Boost Africa: Empowering Young African Entrepreneurs

What is Boost Africa?

Africa has some of the world’s fastest-growing economies and a young, and quickly growing population. However a consistent trend in young graduates leaving or failing to return home at the end of their studies is an increasing threat for the continent’s social, economic, environmental and technological progress.

Boost Africa, a joint initiative between the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Investment Bank (EIB), and one of the flagship initiatives of the AfDB’s Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy, aims to harness the continent’s potential, and create opportunities on the ground through:

  • enabling and enhancing entrepreneurship and innovation across Africa;
  • creating new and quality jobs for young Africans;
  • contributing to the development of an efficient entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa;
  • addressing the financing gap at the earliest and riskiest stages of enterprise creation; and
  • developing and strengthening skills and expertise with young entrepreneurs.

Boosting the entrepreneurial power of Africa’s young people will:

  • create innovative and compelling modern businesses;
  •  increase the capacity for these businesses to compete regionally and globally;
  •  attract both domestic and foreign investment and diversify investor profile;
  • contribute significantly to job creation and economic growth.

The idea is to become the premier platform to launch globally competitive companies from Africa.

Boost Africa stems from a belief in entrepreneurship and innovation, and that they can play a significant role in accelerating living standards and social progress in Africa by meeting the needs of the people.

It will support the development of affordable solutions to fundamental challenges affecting those at the base of the pyramid, from access to energy and healthcare to financial services, education and internet connectivity. Supporting start-ups also means sustaining the democratisation of the economy, in a context characterised by an unequal distribution of wealth and high barriers for newcomers to start a business.

What are the components of Boost Africa?

  1- Investment Programme

The Investment Programme will span the whole venture segment, including seed funds, incubators, accelerators, follow-on funds, business angels funds, equity-crowd platforms, and venture capital funds to support the creation of innovative and highly scalable start-ups and SMEs.

It will focus on those ecosystem builders that are able to generate first-rate opportunities in terms of quality, creativity, impact and innovation, from fund managers to accelerators, incubators and business angels.

The investment component will be structured as a co-investment partnership between EIB and AfDB, who will each commit up to €50 million. Third-party investors from the public and the private sector will be invited to co-invest with the ultimate aim to mobilise a combined amount of €200 million, and leverage €1 billion in additional investments through financial intermediaries.

Deploying a blended finance approach, the programme expects to build a portfolio of 25 to 30 funds over a 7-8 year period.

  2- Technical Assistance Pool

The TA Pool aims to provide capacity building and disseminate best practices for:

  • The investment readiness of intermediaries, especially first time local fund managers;
  • The business and technical training of investee companies/entrepreneurs; and
  • The creation of investors’ networks, notably for business angels.

  3- Innovation & Information Lab

The Lab will act as a catalyst for innovation, knowledge and partnerships by incubating and piloting promising new ideas. It will also assess and disseminate best practices and provide support to ecosystem interventions at country level.

Through this integrated approach, Boost Africa will both provide financial capital and develop human capital, helping fund managers and entrepreneurs to effectively deal with the many obstacles that arise when building new funds and new enterprises.

What types of sectors does Boost Africa target?

The focus will be on sectors where innovations can improve quality of people’s lives, in particular that of poorer households, providing access to affordable products and services. These sectors include, but are not limited to:

  • ICT
  • agribusiness
  • financial services and financial inclusion
  • health
  • education
  • renewable energy

There will be a particular emphasis on intermediaries that focus on youth and women as final beneficiaries.

Development Impact

The overall target size across the various components of the initiative is expected to be around €250 million, leveraging €1 billion in investments, supporting 1,500 SMEs, and creating 25,000 direct jobs and at least 70,000 indirect jobs.