A new World Economic Forum initiative, the Africa Growth Platform, has been launched to help Africa’s community of start-up enterprises grow and compete in international markets.

The Africa Growth Platform seeks to achieve this goal by securing commitments from governments to implement policy reforms aimed at stimulating and accelerating business growth.

It also seeks to achieve this by building a community of investors comprising private investors, foundations, multilateral institutions and corporate intrapreneurs to better coordinate and pool resources that could facilitate larger subsequent rounds of funding and by creating and sustaining a community of start-up businesses to promote collaboration and share best practices.

The need for an innovative approach to help Africa’s start-ups reach a sustainable scale is backed up by data. Two-thirds of Africa’s 420 million young people are unemployed, which highlights a clear need for new solutions to drive employment growth.

At the same time, Africa’s population is endowed with an entrepreneurial spirit, with early-stage entrepreneurial activity 13% higher than the global average. However, due to insufficient support and infrastructure, the region’s start-ups are 14% more likely to fail than those elsewhere in the world.

“Africa’s entrepreneurs are its greatest economic asset but spirit and resourcefulness alone are not always enough to help them succeed. Too often, start-ups and innovative enterprises fail needlessly through lack of additional finance or overly burdensome regulations. The Africa Growth Platform brings together all the actors – governments, investors and the businesses themselves – necessary to create an environment where they can fulfil their potential in terms of growth and employment,” said Elsie Kanza, Head of Africa, World Economic Forum.

The founding members of the Africa Growth Platform are:

  • Alibaba Group
  • A. T. Kearney
  • Dalberg Group
  • Export Trading Group
  • US African Development Foundation
  • Zenith Bank

The Africa Growth Platform will play a major role in the programme of the World Economic Forum on Africa, which takes place on 4-6 September in Cape Town, South Africa. The platform aims to leverage the convening power of the meeting to secure commitments and participation from leaders of government and business, investors and other stakeholders.

The theme of the 2019 World Economic Forum on Africa is, ‘Shaping Inclusive Growth and Shared Futures in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’. The meeting will convene more than 1,000 regional and global leaders from government, business, civil society and academia. Participants will explore new models to help Africa achieve success at a time when technology is creating dramatic economic and societal shifts.

The meeting’s highly interactive programme will also cover issues as diverse as skills and education, the ocean economy, the economic impact of drones, free trade and ecommerce.

The Co-Chairs of meeting are Ellen Agler, Chief Executive Officer, The END Fund, USA; Jeremy Farrar, Director, Wellcome Trust, United Kingdom; Arancha Gonzalez Laya, Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva; André Hoffmann, Vice-Chairman, Roche, Switzerland; Alex Liu, Managing Partner and Chairman, A. T. Kearney, USA; Jim Ovia, Chairman, Zenith Bank, Nigeria; and Sipho M. Pityana, Chairman, AngloGold Ashanti, South Africa.