The problems bedeviling African entrepreneurs are many, and looking from a sustainability expert point of view, they need solutions that are cross-cutting, so that one fronted solves a number.
While traditionally it was believed that the major problem to success was lack of factors of production: land, labour, capital and entrepreneurship, contemporary times have proved that factors such as climate change, lack of sustainable practices and limited technological knowledge are the culprits.
In climate change for example, the challenge is rampant because businesses today are future-focused, yet the challenge of climate change cannot ascertain our future unless it is addressed urgently.
We all saw some activists staging a sit-in to raise awareness about climate issues ahead of the UN General Assembly, which is a clear sign that this is a global challenge.
What this means is that businesses not only need to be supported financially or with other factors of production but also to be provided with support mechanisms for success.
One area that will make sense for current and future businesses is the training and strategy development that will make them become resilient and sustainable.
Support mechanisms such as peer networking among entrepreneurs is an effective way, where businesses exchange ideas on how they can thrive and build on sustainability, while at the same time addressing and finding solutions to the problems they may be facing.
Mentorship is another intervention that is beneficial although different kinds of mentorship structures yield different outcomes.
This means that there is need to have customised mentorship programmes depending on the specific needs of a business.
Businesses may also want to keep pace with emerging technologies, dismantling barriers to diversity, creating social and environmental impact by working with stakeholders and accelerating progress of employees and suppliers for economic development.
There is, therefore, a need for both State and non-State actors to come up with innovations that are very inclusive of all the above components in what may be termed as holistic all-inclusive interventions.
Recent launch of the first edition of the African Youth Adaptation Solutions (YouthAdapt) Challenge by the Global Centre on Adaptation (GCA) and the African Development Bank, which is part of the ‘Empowering Youth through Jobs and Entrepreneurship’ pillar of the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP) is a case in point of the kind of interventions needed.
The challenge that encourages young entrepreneurs, innovators from micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and other youth-led and youth-owned enterprises in Africa to implement solutions for building resilience and adapting to the adverse impacts of climate change will have an overall impact on the well-being of the continent.
The challenge that will support an initial 20 entrepreneurs with bespoke business mentorship and offer grants of up to $1,000,000 to the top climate-smart ventures is a good example of the cross-cutting support needed for businesses.
This means that different kinds of resources will be leveraged, complementary expertise and networks reinforced and funding of the MSMEs increased, and consequently, sustainable climate adaptation and resilience practices on the African continent will be built.
This will be a win-win situation whereby the businesses not only end up making profits, but also making the world a better place.
This will also spur innovation in climate adaptation and resilience as potential entrepreneurs also get to learn more about this agenda. It is also likely to solve Africa’s most pressing challenges of climate change as well as unemployment.
With KCIC Consulting Limited being the Enterprise Support Organisation (ESO) implementing the challenge and based on its previous experience, some key lessons will have to be implemented to holistically furnish the successful entrepreneurs with the requisite skills for scaling up and ensuring that maximum impact is harvested from the enterprises that will be supported.
There is a massive need to proliferate the ideology of climate action through adaptation and resilience throughout the continent.
While YouthADAPT continues to support the successful climate-smart innovators, it will be paramount to ensure that at the end of the pilot project, hundreds if not thousands of other entrepreneurs in Africa will have learnt and adopted business practices that are expedient to climate adaptation and building a better Africa for future generations through resilience.