Are you a young aspiring African entrepreneur? Try one of these programmes

By Daniel Mpala

For Ghanaian tech entrepreneur Mohammed Sylla taking part in Stars From All Nations’ (SFAN)ReadyForWork programme has helped him make some important changes to his IT consultancy and web development business El Jay Creatives.

“These changes included establishing a proper effective communication guide, critical and design thinking on our projects as well as general organisational management,” says Sylla (pictured above).

The six-week programme, which aims to equip young people with practical employment and entrepreneurship skills, is one of many around the continent aimed at helping young entrepreneurs.

Here are a few that aspirant entrepreneurs should look into:

South Africa

SAB Kickstart Ignite: The SAB Kickstart Ignite programme is aimed at entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 35 who have a business idea or prototype that can potentially solve a business challenge. There’s also the SAB Kickstart Urban Agri Programme, which is aimed at young crop farmers between the ages of 18 and 35 who are looking to commercialise their operations. You’ll have try enter next year, as applications for this year’s edition closed last month.

SAB Foundation Tholana Enterprise Programme: This initiative is aimed at youth in rural areas, as well as at entrepreneurs who have a disability and who show potential and commitment to grow a business and create jobs. The two-year business support programme provides participants with seed-funding and assistance with access to markets.

Entrepreneurship Development Academy: University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science runs the Entrepreneurship Development Academy. Through the academy, the university works with entrepreneurs in both the formal and informal sectors, from startup through to high-impact growth. The academy’s programmes differ based on the sponsor’s objectives, the nature of sophistication of the entrepreneurs and the sector they represent. The length of each programme varies from one-week bootcamps for startups through to three and four-month programmes. In the past, the academy has run programmes that aim to help township entrepreneurs as well as participants who do not have a formal education requirement.

Raymond Ackerman Academy of Entrepreneurial Development: This post-matric level academy offers a six-month, full-time programme in entrepreneurial development. The course aims to develop entrepreneurial mind-sets in young people between the ages of 18 and 30.

Junior Achievement South Africa: Junior Achievement South Africa offers the Entrepreneurship Academy Programme which is aimed at those in Grade 10 or 11, as well as the Youth Enterprise Development Programme aimed at those between the ages of 18 and 35. The seven to eight month Entrepreneurship Academy Programme teaches participants among other things how to start their own businesses. The Youth Enterprise Development programme aims to help participants to start up and learn to run sustainable businesses.

Business Management Training: The National Youth Development Agency runs the Business Management Training programme which aims to create a conducive environment for young entrepreneurs to access relevant entrepreneurship skills, knowledge, values and attitudes for their businesses. The programme is open to South African citizens between the ages of 18 and 35 who run 100% youth-owned businesses.

Young Minds Entrepreneurship Programme: This University of Stellenbosch Business School programme helps school-leavers, students and young graduates to create their own career opportunities, with guided life direction. The programme aims to equip students with the necessary business skills required to produce successful entrepreneurs. The next cohort starts on 4 February and the programme costs R54 800.

Eeesay: The Entrepreneurial and Environmental Empowerment for South Africa’s Youth (Eeesay) project is partly funded by the EU and is implemented in partnership with the Wildlife and Environment Society of South Africa and Business World Development Trust. The project supports young people in schools and out-of-school youth to plan, set up and run educational and environmentally sustainable and profitable enterprises.

Yled In-school MBA Programme: Johannesburg-based Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Development runs a 28-week programme that gives selected in-school learners the opportunity to hone their leadership, interpersonal and entrepreneurship skills.

Youth Entrepreneurial Programme: Vodacom and the Innovator Trust established the Youth Entrepreneurship Programme (YEP) in 2017. The programme is aimed at equipping local unemployed youth with the requisite set of skills to become cutting-edge entrepreneurs. The tailor-made programme aims to drive innovation and create job opportunities that could bring significant changes to the local economy. Currently in its third roll-out, the year-long programme has been run in Gauteng and the Western Cape with plans to extend it to Durban and Mpumalanga. Applications for the next cohort will open around February or March next year.

Young Entrepreneurs: Bloemfontein-based Young Entrepreneurs runs a number of virtual courses aimed at those between the ages of four and 18. These include the Launchpad Programme aimed at those 18 years and older and the Young Millionaire course which is designed for entrepreneurs between the ages of 16 and 18. The course is based on the book How to become a millionaire at 22 by Albert van Wyk.


MEST: The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) offers full scholarships for its year-long entrepreneurial training programme that covers business, communication and software development. MEST in turn incubates and invests in startups founded by graduates of the programme in incubators in Accra, Lagos and Cape Town. Applications for the next cohort close on 7 February with the programme set to start in August.

JA Company Programme: Junior Achievement Ghana offers the JA Company Programme which provides introductory entrepreneurship education for high-school students by giving them the opportunity to organise and operate an actual business. Over the course of 16 weeks, students collaborate to start a business, develop a product or idea and run the business.

Stanbic Business Incubator: The Stanbic Business Incubator programme has trained over 1200 entrepreneurs who have gone on to start their own businesses. Since its inception four years ago it has also trained 2923 youth on how to develop business ideas. The incubator offers business development services, mentoring and coaching services and provides avenues for accessing markets and sourcing funds.

Africa Internship Academy: Accra-based African Internship Academy offers an Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Programme as well as the AIA Business Starter-pack Programme which helps entrepreneurs to strengthen their capacity to launch and advance their entrepreneurial ideas.


JA Company Programme: Junior Achievement Nigeria’s JA Company Programme teaches senior secondary level students how to start and run their own business, develop a product or service, and market their brand with the support of a volunteer. Students come together to form a company, choose a business name and elect company officers to oversee operations of the company for the program duration. The programme teaches students to put theory into practice in order to fully understand what entrepreneurship involves.


JA Company Programme: Junior Achievement Kenya‘s JA Company Programme is a 15-week course aimed at high-school students. The programme is designed to inspire and nurture entrepreneurship skills, financial skills and work readiness among the youth. It also augments school-based, work-based and connecting activities for communities with school-to-work initiatives. There’s also another six-week version of the programme aimed at young people in secondary school and those who did not get a chance to go to secondary school. This programme enables participants to set up self-funded (through table banking savings) financially feasible and viable businesses.

Youth Empowerment Programme InitiativeThe Mombasa-based Youth Empowerment Programme Initiative runs several entrepreneurship programmes aimed at young people including the Social Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Development (Seed) programme and the Student Talent and Leadership Management Programme (Stamp).

Yes Programme: The Africa Young Entrepreneur Support (Yes) Programme provides early-stage social entrepreneurs under the age of 30 years old with six-months of intensive entrepreneurship, leadership and business training. The training is aimed at helping participants to discover opportunities, unlock their potential and create an impact in their local communities. It seeks to identify, inspire and empower 25 young social entrepreneurs to recognise opportunities, explore innovative approaches, mobilise resources, manage risks, and build viable social enterprises. The programme invests at least $15 000 in grant funding in top fellows during the programme. Applications closed in October.


High Flyers’ Youth Entrepreneurship Programme: This three-year initiative plans to provide 1700 young high-potential entrepreneurs in Uganda with financial and non-financial support including enterprise training — focused on access to markets, value addition and value-chain integrations — ongoing mentoring support, access to finance and additional business development support. In addition, the programme aims to help these entrepreneurs increase their income and generate 1700 new paid jobs. The programme is implemented in partnership with Youth Business International (YBI) and Enterprise Uganda and funded by the Argidius Foundation, government of Uganda, Accenture and Enterprise Uganda.


Yas! (Youth for Africa and SDGs) Portal-Platform: Yas! is an online portal for Africa’s young entrepreneurs that was launched by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) last year. It offers free lessons for entrepreneurs, by providing the answers on the key concepts relevant to enterprise development.

Its Tyme: Junior Achievement Africa runs the Its Tyme (Immersion Training Strategy Targeting Young Marginalised Entrepreneurs) initiative in Gabon, Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. The programme provides life skills, business education, mentoring and access to finance and industry specific apprenticeship opportunities to marginalised African youth.

Featured image: El Jay Creatives founder and head of IT Mohammed Sylla