Grand Africa Initiative (GAIN) in partnership with Africa Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has trained young African entrepreneurs from across Africa through its empowerment programme, GAIN-Afreximbank masterclass on entrepreneurship and intra-Africa trade.
GAIN is a Pan-African non-governmental organization committed to helping African young men and women, between 15 and 35 years, to develop and harness their unique ideas, talents and abilities for success in education, entrepreneurship, innovation and employment.
It also trains, empower and provide technical support to African young men and women by equipping them with digital, leadership, employability and entrepreneurial skills for sustainability.
Executive Director of GAIN, Chinwe Okoli, in a statement, explained that the empowerment programme was part of the Afreximbank’s effort to increase participation of African young entrepreneurs in cross border trade and expand trading activity under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) which is pivotal to the continent’s economic transformation and integration.
She said the program was designed to equip young African entrepreneurs who were selected from across Africa with skills to build and scale their businesses across borders, learn key insights that will help them identify opportunities in various African markets, expand their businesses, manage trade finance, form partnerships, grow income, leverage the opportunities of the AfCFTA, attract foreign direct investment and create employment for more youths.
She disclosed that the program received applications from 1,376 young African entrepreneurs from 29 African countries out of which 200 participants were selected based on the set criteria.
She added: “The program kicked-off on the August 8th, 2022, with a virtual opening ceremony which had the Senior Manager, AU/AfCFTA Relations and Trade Policy, Afreximbank, Mr. Babajide Sodipo, the High Commissioner of South Africa to Nigeria, His Excellency, Thami Mseleku, and the selected participants and members of the public in attendance.
“It was a three months programme that had intensive master class facilitated by global experts and leaders in various aspects of business who brought in class experience and mastery. The participants acquired knowledge from facilitators from Africa, America, and Europe who covered 15 broad topics which was followed by mentorship and business advisory sessions with experienced mentors and experts in various business sectors.”
According to her, the program’s anticipated results include an increase in the number of properly structured businesses, a rise in business partnerships between young entrepreneurs abroad to support intra-African trade, the emergence of a new generation of global entrepreneurs in Africa, and the creation of more employment opportunities for young people in Africa.
She attested to the fact that participants had the knowledge and abilities required to establish globally competitive enterprises, record increased trade volumes, position their companies for the AfCFTA, and grow their operations to support the continent of Africa’s economic growth.
In their evaluations of the program, some of the participants expressed appreciation for the program’s organizers and agreed that it provided them with access to a variety of toolkits for creating strong, prosperous firms that would have an international reach.
A participant from Nigeria, Amina Onawo Mohammed, said, “This program is topnotch. It went beyond my imagination. I applied SWOT techniques to strategize my business which really helped out these three months.”
A participant from Malawi, Robert Chikuse, said, “before I joined the program, my ideas were not structured and I was blind to the possibilities out there and how I could benefit from the ACFTA. This program introduced the idea of networking and the importance of having a clearly defined strategy and branding.
Another participant from Kenya, Kevin Maino, said, “The program is an important step towards opening up African opportunities and expanding youths engagement in the international trade and exports market”.