The managing director/CEO of Bank of Industry (BoI), Mr. Olukayode Pitan as well as other experts have tasked entrepreneurs to dare to dream beyond the horizon and build a legacy of entrepreneurship that inspires future generations and transforms Africa into a global economic powerhouse.
This call was made at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress Africa (GEC+Africa) meeting organised by GEN Nigeria themed ‘Connecting Africa: Strides in the Nigeria Entrepreneurship Ecosystem’ in Lagos recently.
GEC+Africa is an influential initiative of GEN Africa that unites entrepreneurial communities across the continent. GEC+Africa aims to drive economic growth, empower innovators, and create a sustainable ecosystem for businesses in Africa.
On his part, Pitan, a keynote speaker at the event, said the African entrepreneurial landscape has experienced unprecedented growth in recent years because of the massive pool of diverse and talented young people, increased access to technology, expanding urban population and increased investors’ interest in the continent’s potential.
“This has led to an upsurge in the number of start-up businesses established in strategic sectors such as Agribusiness, Fintech, Renewable Energy, ecommerce, Health tech and so on. These businesses have consistently devised innovative solutions to some of the continent’s most pressing developmental challenges,” he stated.
According to him, “when I look at the activities in the African Start-up ecosystem, I am filled with pride that Nigerian start-up businesses are leading the charge in shifting the continent’s economic narrative into a more positive trajectory.”
Nigeria is leading the pack with the highest number of start-ups in Africa with $8.43 billion in funding according to a 2023 report by Statista and Start-up Genome respectively. Their success and impact have further bolstered arguments made about the importance and roles of entrepreneurship and innovation in the economic future of Africa, hence, the need to replicate these track records in other parts of the continent.
However, he highlighted challenges facing the entrepreneurial landscape in Nigeria to include: limited access to finance, regulatory constraints, scaling up beyond their local market, inadequate infrastructure and lack of mentorship and support structures.
To achieve this, Pitan revealed that there is an urgent need to remove the bureaucratic barriers that make it difficult for businesses to operate across borders and create a legal and regulatory framework that encourages entrepreneurship.
Speaking ahead of the next GEC+Africa event scheduled to be held in Cape Town, South Africa on March 14th, 2024, the managing director of GEC+Africa, Mahlatse Tolamo, said there is need to have an original focused congress, which is aimed at strengthening the Africa entrepreneurship ecosystem.
She said: “the event will bring together 1,500 delegates, and over 30 ministers of trade and investments, to discuss issues around entrepreneurship and trade in Africa and create opportunities for startups within 46 African countries to network while investors and corporate organisations will have access to these SMEs.”
Weighing in on the matter, managing director at GEN Nigeria, Dr Olawale Anifowose said, GEC+Africa Lead Up Event serves as a dynamic platform that showcases the finest elements of successful entrepreneurial ecosystems on the continent adding that, it aims to foster collaboration, knowledge sharing, and networking opportunities, propelling African entrepreneurs to new heights of success.