Youth and employment: the role of entrepreneurship in African economies (YEMP)

Project summary

Lack of employment opportunities for young people is directly hindering development in sub-Saharan African countries. Entrepreneurship is increasingly considered to be important for economic growth but little is known about how best to support youth entrepreneurship. This project will analyse the role of entrepreneurship in generating youth employment in African countries. The theme will be approached from the perspective of the youth, enterprises and institutions. The project consists of five subprojects: two are cross-cutting (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 'GEM' and Comparative) and three are country specific (Ghana, Uganda and Zambia) devised and led by the partner institutions. Quantitative and qualitative primary data will be collected. A yearly workshop will bring all research partners together to facilitate the exchange of findings and act as milestones. Capacity building will be achieved through participation in GEM, the education of PhD students, networking between partners, co-authorship of publications, and strengthening links to policy makers. The project findings will be disseminated to both policy makers and the academic community through a website, policy briefings, workshops, articles and an edited book. As highlighted by the youth employment focus of the Danish Africa Strategy and Africa Commission, this project tackles an issue which is highly relevant for policy makers and development partners in sub-Saharan Africa.


Project Completion Report - Summary:
The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) studies, which build on a large quantitive data set, have revealed how Ghana, Uganda and Zambia have some of the highest entrepreneurship rates in the world but also some of the highest failure rates (see Drawing on qualitative studies, often using participatory methods, the project has shown how young people are highly resourceful in generating employment for themselves in a wide range of occupations, though they tend to concentrate in a few business types which reduces their competitiveness. For some of the more entrepreneurial youth, establishing a business enables them to move up the socio-economic ladder but many others face frequent failure. Consequently, young people often run multiple businesses simultaneously and switch businesses as they perceive new opportunties. The key challenges they face include lack of entrepreneurial education, capital and mentors. The project has shown how entrepeneurial education can support graduates in their businesses, microfinance institutions can provide finance to young people, and young people can sucessfully draw on their social capital to become successful business men and women. For further information see the project publications listed on the project website and the forthcoming book 'Young entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa' to be published by Routledge.

Go back to all projects