The young population in Africa is confronted with multiple challenges. Key among these challenges is the insufficiency of jobs and job-creating avenues. While Africa is the only region where the youth population will continue to grow, over one in five youth are not in employment, education or training (NEET) as of 2019. The SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) target 8.6 aims to substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education, or training. To achieve the goal, it is worth noting that
“Gainful employment of the youth cannot only depend on hiring possibilities offered by the public sector, major multinational groups or companies.”
Entrepreneurship has been touted as a useful pathway for job creation among the youth. Coupled with appropriate conditions for the successful development of innovative business ideas, entrepreneurship is a promising response to Africa’s current youth unemployment challenge. A thorough study of the Ivorian entrepreneurship ecosystem conducted in 2018 showed that fostering entrepreneurship can serve as an economic catalyst and a tangible way to contribute to economic inclusion and growth in Côte d’Ivoire.
“However, incentivising entrepreneurship without developing an entrepreneurial mindset and providing the concrete skills to increase success rates could be counterproductive.”
To this end, the initiative Knowledge 2 Knowledge Entrepreneurship, Côte d’Ivoire was launched on 24 June 2021.
The launch event, sealed by a Memorandum of Understanding, was attended by the Minister of Technical Education, Vocational Training and Apprenticeship, Mr. Koffi N’Guessan, and Ambassador of The Netherlands to Côte d’Ivoire, her Excellency Yvette Daoud, marked the continued cooperation between the Netherlands and Côte d’Ivoire in the area of capacity building and institutional strengthening for private sector development. The initiative, funded by the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend (RVO) Netherrlands through its Orange Corners programme, is jointly developed and implemented by PLNT Leiden Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, SIRIS Academic, UNU-MERIT, and ESPartners. Envisioned as a knowledge-to-knowledge exchange with three institutions, namely Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny, International University of Grand-Bassam and Université Alassane Ouattara, this project aims to enable the staff of knowledge institutes to deliver better entrepreneurship education by providing the latest tools and methodologies to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and skills in their students. This capacity building project will allow for a lasting and replicable development on those skills, with a tangible positive impact on youth employment.
Specifically, the project involves an experiential Training of Trainers (ToT) component within the three participating knowledge institutes. Instead of focusing on generic theory, Western practices and success stories, the uniqueness of this initiative lies in its focus on the development of context-relevant programmes geared towards practising entrepreneurial mindset and skills. The training is a context-driven process where the expressed needs of the three institutions regarding entrepreneurship education serve as the reference for tailored capacity-building interventions. The ToT component aims to empower and support selected teachers design a curriculum on entrepreneurship or improve the entrepreneurial modules offered to their students. The curriculum and modules developed will focus on addressing local challenges, applying methods such as problem-based learning, action learning, systems thinking and using design thinking tools.
Further, the initiative promotes equal opportunities for effective female entrepreneurship and to narrow the gender gap in a country where although there are more women as entrepreneurs than men, only 15% of companies are led by women. The resulting entrepreneurial education is expected to deliver well-trained students with the adaptive capacity and entrepreneurial mindset that helps them to bridge the gap between university education and the job market. The initiative is expected to be completed by April 2022.