In alignment with the Skills for Africa initiative from SAP SE (NYSE: SAP), which promotes education to improve the problem of chronic youth unemployment and expand the IT workforce, SAP and Acumen today announced an investment in a program for social entrepreneurs in East Africa, designed to help the companies grow and scale. Acumen is a non-profit global venture fund that invests in companies, leaders and ideas to change the way the world tackles poverty.
According to a study released today by SAP and global nonprofit organization Endeavor, Kenya needs to create more than 3.9 million jobs for young people by 2020. Over 1.5 million people are currently unemployed in Kenya, and more than one-third of them are between the ages of 15 and 24. Kenya’s workforce is projected to grow by 3.4 million by 2020, due primarily to young adults entering the job market. High-growth entrepreneurs have the potential to be major job engines in the country. According to the study, the number of entrepreneurs is growing at 20 percent or more per year and represents only five percent of Kenyan firms but creates over 70 percent of the total new jobs.
“Despite recent political challenges, Kenya continues to experience strong growth, due to its broad-based economy, strategic location and above all, its youthful population. But without creating more jobs for its young people, Kenya will have challenges living up to its potential,” said Pfungwa Serima, CEO, SAP Africa. “Small businesses can significantly help to reduce youth unemployment in this important market. As this announcement underscores, SAP is committed to finding innovative ways to solve critical social and business issues in Africa and provide today’s young people — and tomorrow’s leaders — with access to the tools they need to succeed in the digital and networked economy.”
Some of the companies selected for the SAP® Social Entrepreneur Fellowship program in 2015 are:
- Sproxil (East Africa): A mobile verification service that helps protect consumers from counterfeit medicine and other health products
- Sanergy (Kenya): A sanitation company that provides clean, affordable toilets and waste management services to low-cost areas
- SolarNow (Uganda): A renewable energy company selling and financing solar home systems for low-income communities
Chosen for their proven business models, potential to scale and outlook for job growth and social impact, the CEOs of the selected companies will participate in a 100-day fellowship program. Kicking off in Silicon Valley, widely recognized as a leading entrepreneurial ecosystem, the fellowship has been designed to address the pain points of early stage growth companies including strategy workshops, networking, leadership skills, and organizational growth strategies.
“We see tremendous potential in this selection of entrepreneurs,” said Duncan Onyango, East Africa director, Acumen. “Our hope is that by leveraging SAP’s core capabilities and by utilizing their fellow CEOs as resources, this cohort of Acumen entrepreneurs will be able to not only scale their enterprises but also share best practices with others in the region to influence the overall sector and deepen their impact.”
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