Six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies over the past decade were in Africa. As the continent’s population becomes increasingly educated and hungry for opportunities, dynamic startups are being created, developing real-world solutions worthy of investment and global attention. Yet the startups are forced to develop in a fragmented, confusing ecosystem that consists of short-term NGO programs, bureaucratic governmental efforts and corporate investments in development. While all of these initiatives have merit standing alone, they lack the continuity and consistency that is needed to grow a burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem. As a result, potential entrepreneurs are not connecting with the opportunities available, reducing the chance that their job creating ventures get off the ground.
Africa.co will be the first initiative implemented to unify these efforts and maximize their efficacy as a part of the greater whole. By coordinating the ongoing efforts in a manner that promotes collaboration among the actors and helps direct future programs, Africa.co will be able to synthesize the development efforts in the African entrepreneurial ecosystem and retain a focus on the ultimate goal of empowering the entrepreneurs. Specific activities include a continental grassroots entrepreneurial ecosystem mapping initiative, developing a go-to African entrepreneurship resource library and creating a new set of African entrepreneur role models. Concrete outputs include ecosystem maps and virtual libraries for ten of the most advanced African economies, a central web hub for African entrepreneurship activities and news, and an international presentation to share best practices that can be replicated in other regions. This project will make a difference for the brightest African entrepreneurial minds by giving them the tools, connections and support that they need to create local economic opportunities and begin changing the world’s perception of business in Africa.