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HomeFor: Policy MakersExploring Africa’s Untapped Entrepreneurial Potential Beyond Rhetoric

Exploring Africa’s Untapped Entrepreneurial Potential Beyond Rhetoric

Image: Jonathan Ortmans is founder and president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN).

In the opening remarks at the GEC+Africa in Cape Town on March 13, 2024, GEN President Jonathan Ortmans echoed hope and actionable insights towards reaching the full entrepreneurial potential in Africa. His speech was filled with practical suggestions that are incredibly relevant for ecosystem builders seeking to foster entrepreneurial spirit within their communities.

A Decade of Progress for GEN in Africa
Ortmans celebrated a decade of progress for the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) in Africa, citing the opening of 13 GEN chapters, campaigns for increased U.S. investor and government interest on the continent, and collaborations with organizations such as EBAN and the Africa Business Angels Network. These efforts have yielded tangible results, including the creation of locally-led Global Entrepreneurship Week campaigns, support for startup communities, and engagement of thousands of startups in accelerators, such as the Entrepreneurship World Cup. The statistic shared by Ortmans noted a 50% increase in exit events from African ecosystems from 2020 to 2023, along with a 20% increase in the exit value.

Challenges and Opportunities
While celebrating the progress, Ortmans highlighted challenges, particularly around unequal distribution of funding. He pointed out that 75% of VC deal counts went to the top five African ecosystems, emphasizing the need for more inclusive support. President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership and the role of policymakers were acknowledged, urging for thoughtful and deliberate policies to unleash Africa’s entrepreneurial potential.

Building a Resilient Ecosystem
Ortmans lauded the efforts of entrepreneurs as the north star, recognizing their traits of creativity, global vision, inclusivity, and adaptability. His call to action for educators resonated strongly, urging them to foster a learning environment that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills within students. He emphasized the importance of seeking specific support from backers and governments to fuel entrepreneurial growth.

Government Support and Entrepreneurship
The role of governments was underscored, with a call to action for precise problem-solving strategies tailored to local contexts. Ortmans cited Startup Tunisia Policy as an exemplary approach to support employees in transitioning from a job to entrepreneurship. He also stressed the need for rigorous impact assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of entrepreneurship support programs.

Embracing Inclusivity and Disrupting Education
Ortmans stressed the importance of inclusivity and disrupting education to unlock Africa’s full entrepreneurial potential. He highlighted the need to ensure that the benefits of technological advancements reach every corner of the developing world, emphasizing that entrepreneurial dynamism needs a strong pipeline of talented individuals.

About GEC+Africa
“Entrepreneurs play a pivotal role in driving the development of Africa and its people. Our congress will connect the continent’s entrepreneurs with the best and the brightest from around the world. It will also be a chance for Africa to show off its ingenuity and excellence to a global audience,” says Carmen Rossouw, GEC+Africa 2024, Project Lead.

The Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC+ Africa 2024) was pioneered by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN which has footprint in 180 countries globally and 43 countries on the African continent.

This is how you can get involved to build one global entrepreneurship ecosystem:

  • Startups: Enter the Entrepreneurship World Cup. This is your first step into the gateway of GEN help, from cross-border investor and mentor networks to accelerators, prize competitions, founders’ clubs, and community support groups and more.  
  • Community builders: Become a Startup Huddle organizer and build your personal brand in your neighborhood or community among startups, investors, and entrepreneurial support organizations. 
  • Investors: Join GEN Invest. Access our startups and peers of global investor networks.  
  • Governments: Join our GEN Policy community of ministers and their teams focusing on enabling policies to increase rates or new firm formation – getting access to the people behind some of the most innovative policy levers in the world.
  • All: Start now planning to get involved in your Global Entrepreneurship Week campaign in November. Host an event in your community and help a new community kick the tires of entrepreneurship, opening their eyes to possibilities.
  • Sign up for our future GECs both here in Africa and in Puerto Rico and Indianapolis and join the movement to build one global entrepreneurship ecosystem. 
Lynn Brown
Lynn Brown
Lynn is a content marketer that focuses on brand storytelling through digital platforms. Skilled in a background of web development, search engine optimization and content production, Lynn is excited to utilize over 10 years’ experience in digital marketing to help grow the ecosystems that support Africa’s very young entrepreneurs to ensure their success.

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