Entrepreneurs are the “very lifeblood” of Africa’s economies, and are responsible for the continent’s growth, according CJ Kujenga, strategic growth markets leader for Ernst and Young (EY) Africa.
EY is currently accepting applications for its 2015 “Accelerating Entrepreneurs” business incubation programme, with Kujenga saying applications from African entrepreneurs are strongly encouraged.
“Entrepreneurship is one of the five priorities for action that EY believes will be most critical to a successful African future. This makes entrepreneurship a major focus area for EY Africa and we strive to ensure that we present a consistent and visible message about the role it can play in developing the economy of Africa,” Kujenga told Disrupt Africa.
“We are committed to the continent, its growth story and the entrepreneurs who will drive that growth. And it is this commitment, which underpins our call to startups and entrepreneurs to partner with us through our accelerator programmes,” he said.
According to Kujenga, entrepreneurs have a critical role to play in helping to forge solutions to increasingly challenging societal issues, through building thriving businesses which contribute to the economy.
“Entrepreneurs have a vital role to play in any healthy and vibrant economy. Their contribution is increasingly important, with countries facing some of the most challenging societal issues of our time: challenging economic conditions and high levels of unemployment,” he said.
“In order for Africa to achieve its potential, it needs entrepreneurs who build large organisations with integrity, add value to their markets, develop skills on a large scale and create sustainable jobs. As EY, we take it upon ourselves to not only assist in their growth, but to celebrate the energy and ideas they bring to advance our economies.”
One of the key ways entrepreneurs can help instigate change and progress is through their power to question norms, innovate and inspire others to do the same, Kujenga believes.
“The ability of entrepreneurs to innovate, inspire others and power a business along the difficult journey from start-up to market leader is truly extraordinary. Entrepreneurs ask the questions that others don’t and in doing so challenge the status quo. These entrepreneurs can drive social change and create shared value,” he said.
EY believes the biggest contribution entrepreneurs can make is social impact – innovative ways to change the lives of those who have been marginalised in the mainstream economy, Kujenga explains.
“They are the biggest contributors to job creation, the very lifeblood of our economies. They are responsible for Africa’s growth. Through them, economic growth and development will continue on the continent.”
The Accelerating Entrepreneurs programme sees six entrepreneurs selected to participate in EY’s yearly “Entrepreneur of the Year” event, with the entrepreneurs receiving all expenses paid trips to Monte Carlo to participate. At the event, entrepreneurs will receive growth training, as well as forge relationships with potential mentors and coaches.
The programme is open to startups which have reported US$50 million or less in sales for the past two years. Applications can be made via the EY website, until March 1, 2015.