The Africa Islamic Economic Foundation recognises the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation as the basis for job and wealth creation in all modern economies. It has therefore launched the Start-up/Innovate Africa Program to promote entrepreneurship and innovation among African Youth, with a special emphasis on technology transfer and wealth creation to help them create jobs and economic opportunities by providing them with greater access to education, financial capital and business support services. The objective of the Program is to foster the development of local visionaries, champions and implementers in some select African countries, who will form a globally linked network of champions and enterprises in view of the realities and challenges of the international marketplace for long-term partnerships. In particular, the Program will provide a clear and valuable support to each phase of start-up creation (e.g., ideation, validation, build, launch, growth, and maturity), with a specific focus on the financial sources that can be used to implement each phase.
Technology transfer, in the context of the Program is the process of taking innovations out of laboratories and finding commercial applications for those technologies. Although the Initiative will look at all kinds of entrepreneurship, its focus will be on technology transfer and new venture development. This flagship Initiative hopes to equip participants with the knowledge on “how” entrepreneurship takes place as well as “why” it takes place. While the “how” of new venture development is related to the entrepreneurial process (innovation, technology transfer assessment, business plans, fund raising, launching of the enterprise, and the harvest or selling of the enterprise), the “why” of entrepreneurship is focused on why people and groups of people engage in the entrepreneurial process.
Overall, the Program is designed to function as an integrated Program, which will bring together business entrepreneurs, academia, and governments to contribute to, and leverage local and global initiatives for knowledge transfer, accumulation, use, and diffusion to accelerate technology-based economic development for sustained economic growth and shared prosperity in Africa.
Therefore, within the framework of the Program participants are taken horizontally across its five most crucial phases – Stand-up, Start-up, Scale-up, Exit and Mature phases – as exhibited in the ecosystem below.
- Stand-up Phase is when individuals or groups are identified and equipped with the technological and entrepreneurial knowledge and attitudes to attempt the creation of new businesses and enterprises.
- Start-up Phase is when resources are mobilised and regulatory requirements are fulfilled for the successful participants of the Stand-up phase to start and operate a new business and enterprises.
- Scale-up Phase is when the successful start-ups expand their businesses to new markets or in innovative ways.
- Exit Phase is when the business owner(s) or the investors decide to cash out their investments made in the Start-ups.
- Mature Phase is when the Start-up is well established (founded for a number of years), but requires support to continue to adapt and grow particularly in times of transition and decline.
With intensive focus and inspired collaboration, the program hopes to stimulate all African countries to achieve the following bold goals:
- train 100,000 young entrepreneurs to become founders and owners of businesses, job creators and global age experts annually
- create 50,000 new or renewed enterprises annually
- 1 billion US Dollars invested into the African entrepreneurial ecosystem in five years
- Build a dense, vibrant and connected Africa that attracts diverse resources and talent