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The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund

The YEI Trust Fund promotes youth entrepreneurship and innovation

What is it?

  • A trust fund to support the new generation of African entrepreneurs and innovators  

The Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund (YEI Trust Fund) is a trust fund launched in November 2017 under the auspices of Jobs for Youth in Africa, a Bank initiative in line with the Bank's High 5 priorities.

The YEI Trust Fund is intended to help implement the goals of the Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative, which are to create 25 million jobs and equip 50 million young men and women of working age with the skills they need to help them join the formal sector, by 2025.

The Fund, which is managed by the Agriculture, Human and Social Development division in the Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Department, received an initial contribution from Denmark and Norway in 2017. Today, the Fund has reached nearly USD 40 million and welcomed the Governments of Sweden, The Netherlands and Italy as additional donors to its pool of donors.

What is it for?

  • To give young African men and women the skills for tomorrow and the means to innovate

The population of Africa has large numbers of dynamic young people, who are an asset if the issues of unemployment, the education system, jobs and rising inequality are addressed.  The opportunities and challenges alike are considerable.  Were Sub-Saharan Africa to invest wisely in its human capital, GDP would grow by US $500 billion per year for 30 years, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

Today more than ever, we need to realize the economic potential of the continent's young entrepreneurs and innovators to create millions of high-quality jobs and promote inclusive economic growth continent-wide.

The Fund’s goal is to strengthen the employment and entrepreneurship ecosystem for young people in Africa by funding incubator programs, access to finance, study and reform programs that will foster the development of innovative start-ups created and led by young African men and women.

How does it work?

-  Launched and managed by the African Development Bank, this specially targeted fund is run by an oversight committee and a technical review committee.

The oversight committee is composed of donors who meet at least once yearly to decide on the Fund's work program and other operational documents.

The technical review committee draws its members from Bank departments whose mandates include support for young people and entrepreneurship in Africa.

-  To better support innovative young entrepreneurs in Africa, the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Fund finances the annual Challenge Prize that awards the 20 best African SMEs or startups created and run by young people, especially young women. Prize winners receive funding.

A first call for applications will be published before the end of 2018 for SMEs wishing to compete for the inaugural edition of the Challenge Prize.

In addition to the Challenge Prize that directly funds the continent's best and most innovative SMEs, the YEI Fund offers young people financial support through partners. Grants are provided to specialized bodies with proven expertise in supporting and financing young entrepreneurs in Africa.

Who can the Fund help? How do you apply?

Three types of organization can apply for YEI Trust Fund financing and respond to its requests for proposals:

1.  Bodies that support entrepreneurs and SMEs - start-up incubators and enterprise accelerators, financial institutions (banks, credit agencies and guarantee funds) specializing in funding and mentoring SMEs.

2.  Approved research centers - whether independent or attached to universities, whose role is to develop innovative solutions appropriate for the African context, with proven expertise in conducting studies and research on youth entrepreneurship.

3.  State bodies working in employment, entrepreneurship, and young people may receive technical assistance to help them help their respective governments effectively reform their legislation so as to encourage entrepreneurship and job creation.

The Fund is dedicated to supporting SMEs in all 54 African countries, but its focus in 2018 will be on approximately six countries classified as fragile or with high migration potential.

For more information, please contact