It  was held on Monday, 13th June 2016 (10.00am-1.00pm) the conference “Women and Youth Entrepreneurship in Africa: The Impact of Entrepreneurial Education on Development” at the Trusteeship Council Chamber of United Nations Headquarters in New York.

The high-level meeting was organized by E4Impact Foundation, the Permanent Mission of Italy to the United Nations, the Permanent Observer Mission of the African Union to the United Nations, the United Nations Office of the Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA), the Office of the Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth, UN Women and the Permanent Missions of the Republic of Kenya and Ghana to the United Nations.

The event aimed to:

1. Identify ways to support and sustain women and youth entrepreneurship in Africa

2. Engage Member States, United Nations system entities, African continental organizations, private sector, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, with the aim of galvanizing action towards the support of women and youth entrepreneurs in Africa

3. Showcase concrete examples of “impactful” women and youth entrepreneurs in Africa

4. Encourage the exchange of ideas on how enterprises with a strong social foundation can accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the African Union’s Agenda 2063

To this extent, the event featured the participation of Permanent Representatives of Member States to the United Nations in New York, Heads of United Nations system entities, Senior Officials of the African Union, high-level representatives of private sector and civil society groups and, last but not least, women and youth entrepreneurs from throughout Africa.

The meeting was a real success and knowledge and best practices were shared among the spekaers and the audience. E4Impact experience, recognized as a virtuous case, was illustrated by the President of the Foundation, Letizia Moratti, as well as from some E4Impact entrepreneurs and collaborators: Mabel Quarshie, founder & CEO of Acquatic Industries (Ghana); Lucy Kapkirwok, founder and CEO of Sanpad Ltd (Kenya) and Fr. Pazisnewende Kaboré, Program Leader of the E4Impact MBA at CERAP (Côte d’Ivoire).

Why an event with such issues?

Over the past decade, Africa has been among the world’s fastest-growing regions, with improved governance and economic reforms helping to galvanize annual growth of more than 5% on average. The continent is home to a third of the planet’s mineral reserves and a tenth of the oil, while foreign direct investment (FDI) in the continent has grown in the past decade, despite global stagnation.

In spite of this promising data, unemployment in Africa was estimated at more than 15% in 2015, with some countries reaching up to 30% — a situation that has fuelled persistent poverty as well as economic migration due to the lack of local businesses able to generate employment opportunities.

While widespread unemployment on the continent has negatively affected virtually all segments of the population, it has most strongly affected women and youth. Gender gaps in employment are high, with women dominating informal sector employment and vulnerable work. In addition, African youth – both men and women – represent 60% of the continent’s unemployed, hindered by lack of employment opportunities and inadequate access to quality education and vocational training.

Recent developments, however, present new opportunities for transformative change for women and youth in Africa. 2015 marked the adoption of historic agendas for the continent at both the global and regional levels, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the continent’s 50 year transformative agenda for development, peace and security, and its First Ten-Year Implementation Plan.

The event was aimed to analyse the development of entrepreneurship in Africa, with a special focus on women and youth, highlighting, among other, the work of the E4Impact Foundation and its partnership with the African Union.

Watch the speech of H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (Chairperson of the African Union Commission) during the event!