Enterprising Youth: Sub-Saharan Africa’s Uncashed Dividend

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Fernholz, Fernando R

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Nearly one-third of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population is between the age group of 10 and 24 years (Devlin, 2013). This is only expected to grow further. However, the region has the fewest number of wage-earners (Monga, 2013). Youth employment is even worse as only about a third of the jobs created in Africa between 2000 and 2008 employed people between the ages of 15 and 24 years (African Economic Outlook, 2013c). The shrinking role of the public sector and the inadequate size of the private sector are the major reasons for the high unemployment rate in Africa. Low level of skills, lack of information about the job market and cultural and social stigmas further contribute to youth unemployment in Africa. The demand-management policies to promote youth employment have been ineffective. Thus, in the absence of jobs and due to the inefficacy of active labor market policies, entrepreneurship is critical to the future of Africa. However, lack of entrepreneurial training, inaccessibility of finance and markets, inadequate infrastructure, and cultural and political constraints are some of the main barriers to youth entrepreneurship. In light of the growing relevance of self-employment and an increasing inclination of African youth towards pursuing it, addressing the barriers to entrepreneurship is critical to Africa’s growth agenda. As a result, youth entrepreneurship programs offer various interventions including training, financing, mentoring, support, market access and other services to resolve the constraints faced by youth. However, evaluations of these programs have shown that they produce a variety of effects, both positive and negative, that preclude any generalizations. Moreover, the impact studies of such programs are few in number and lack consistency in type, implementation, and the environment of the programs’ interventions. Nevertheless, there is considerable evidence that youth entrepreneurship programs have made a valuable contribution to youth employment. This paper focuses on a qualitative study of interviews with 11 specialists in the area of entrepreneurship to understand the best practices in the design and implementation of entrepreneurship programs.





Garg, Sukanya (2014). Enterprising Youth: Sub-Saharan Africa’s Uncashed Dividend. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/8597.

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