The Innovation & Entrepreneurship Lab (the Lab) is an initiative of the African Development Bank, developed under its Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy, created in 2019.
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The Lab aims to create jobs for young Africans – women in particular – by supporting youth innovation and entrepreneurship. Beyond its focus on six pilot countries (Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa), the Lab has continental reach and works to strengthen the entrepreneurial ecosystem of African countries. With a budget of $9.5 million, the Lab receives technical and financial support from the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the European Union, the Fund for Africa Private Sector Assistance (FAPA), and the Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation Trust Fund (KOAFEC)
With that said, according to the International Labour Office (ILO), “green jobs” are created by the shift of economies, enterprises, workplaces and labor markets toward a sustainable, low-carbon paradigm that provides decent work. ILO estimates that a low-carbon economy will create 24 million jobs globally in the next 20 years.
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Since Africa faces significant climate impacts and challenges, many of those jobs will be created as its countries adopt renewable energy infrastructure. Opportunities for startups and small and medium enterprises to address these challenges will expand, and need continued support from enterprise support organizations and investors.
According to the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA), “climate consciousness has percolated into Africa’s private investment landscape”. Through 2022, 79 climate-related deals worth $1.3 billion have been recorded, with an average ticket size of $22.7 million.
Most investments backed renewable electricity producers in the utilities sector, with a focus on solar energy. According to a 2012 study, the renewable energy sector in Morocco could contribute between 267,000 to 482,000 jobs by 2040.
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Many of these opportunities will fall to small and medium sized enterprises across a range of sectors, from agriculture (with precision irrigation initiatives such as Seabex in Tunisia), to e-mobility (for example, electric moto-taxis such as those developed by Ecoboda in Kenya) or the circular economy (building plastic recycling industries as Coliba does in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana).
By supporting organizations that structure entrepreneurial ecosystems and provide direct support to start-ups, the African Development Bank hopes to create a ripple effect that will spur creation and growth of more start-ups, create jobs and value for their communities and clients.
As part of its capacity building activities, the Lab has provided customized, high-level training to incubators and accelerators across Africa through the ESO360 program, in collaboration with the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, VC4A & Hub Collective. This program aims to strengthen incubator activities and provide better support to the start-ups in their respective ecosystems.