Omidyar Network Releases Report on the Challenges Faced by African Entrepreneurs and Recommendations for Accelerating High-Impact Entrepreneurship Across the Continent

Omidyar Network is delighted to announce the release of our original report, Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa: Understanding Africa’s Challenges to Creating Opportunity-driven Entrepreneurship.

Despite the positive economic news and encouraging trends that have emerged from Africa over the past decade, the troubling reality remains that the everyday livelihoods of Africans have not kept pace with macroeconomic growth, and per capita GDP levels on the continent persistently lag behind the rest of the world. We submit that entrepreneurship can address this stubborn income gap in Africa if—and only if—it is able to evolve beyond its current state of necessity-based in-formality into one that is vibrant and robust enough to promote sustained economic growth and generate long-term, viable livelihoods across the continent.

To better understand the state of entrepreneurship in Africa, Omidyar Network launched the Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa Initiative in 2012. To execute this multi-phase research project, we were fortunate to partner with the Monitor Group, and together we set out to identify the challenges facing African entrepreneurs and pinpoint the most trenchant barriers that inhibit high-impact entrepreneurship.

The first phase of the initiative commenced with a survey of 582 entrepreneurs in six Sub-Saharan African countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Tanzania. That survey, in turn, was augmented by 72 in-depth interviews and then benchmarked against 19 global peers. The survey focused on four critical aspects of entrepreneurial environments:

  • Entrepreneurship assets: Financing, skills and talent, and infrastructure.
  • Business support: Government programs and incubation.
  • Policy accelerators: Legislation and administrative burdens.
  • Motivations and mindset: Legitimacy, attitudes, and culture.

The second phase of the initiative brought together business, government and thought leaders to analyze the survey findings, as well as more closely examine the state of entrepreneurship in Africa. The sessions were held in October 2012 at the inaugural Entrepreneurship in Africa Summit in Accra, Ghana. The summit was convened by Omidyar Network in collaboration with the African Leadership Network and the Monitor Group and drew more than 300 relevant leaders from both private and public sectors to participate in a solutions-driven dialogue on fostering high-impact entrepreneurship across the continent.

This report presents the findings of the entrepreneur survey, the outcomes of the workshops in Accra and the conclusions of the third, and final phase, of the initiative: the recommended actions needed to accelerate entrepreneurship on the continent.

We are happy to report that a culture of entrepreneurship is growing in Sub-Saharan Africa, with indicators related to entrepreneurial motivations at least on par with or higher than global peers. However, despite these positive signs, the business landscape in Sub-Saharan Africa provides a number of challenges that prospective entrepreneurs must transcend. This report outlines the opportunities and challenges for Africa’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and the key recommendations that we believe will spur the continent forward.