In Nairobi, on March 6 and 7, the AGYP powered by MEDEF successfully organized the Stars in Africa forum, the largest private sector event dedicated to youth entrepreneurship in Africa. An opportunity for companies to highlight their societal actions and to share the economic models of tomorrow.

800 CEOs, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship actors from over 40 African and European countries traveled to Nairobi for the first Stars in Africa edition, at the invitation of MEDEF, AGYP and MEDEF International. A unique economic and societal two days meeting of actors bringing proven solutions for youth training, employment and entrepreneurship in Africa while doing business. The challenge: how to combine business development and inclusive growth?

Companies at the heart of African and global economic growth

During the opening ceremony, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, explained: “Africa is marching away from a narrative of helplessness to that of hard work and prosperity, anchored on investment and trade”. He continued “An event like Stars in Africa is very important because it allows entrepreneurs to meet and build projects together. And finally, to be an example for the politicians“.

With an expected population of over 2 billion people in 2050, a quarter of the world’s population, Africa is the continent of global growth in the 21st century. This huge potential is challenging Europeans and Africans. For Europeans, it is first and foremost the success of their companies in the face of fierce international competition. Then, building a peaceful and constructive political relationship around commercial, migratory, climate and security issues. For Africans, these are economic and social models to affirm. Across the continent, 30 million young people enter the labor market each year. The need for solutions is immense. As such “to create employment, it takes companies, and to create companies, it takes entrepreneurs, these young people are as many potential entrepreneurs” recalled Pierre Gattaz at the opening of the forum.

It is to promote this entrepreneurial spirit that the Active Growth & Youth Programs (AGYP) were created at MEDEF in 2016. They bring together more than 12,000 actors from business, employment, training and youth, from both continents. Stars in Africa brought them together, in the form of a world cup, for two days, at iHub, the continent’s flagship incubator. Under the auspices of the International Organization of Employers, BusinessEurope and Business Africa, each business community was invited to come along with its companies championing inclusive growth and its best startups.

Highlighting the continent’s entrepreneurship to foster its emergence

Stars in Africa is a movement that produces operational results. It highlights and fosters actions that support the development of entrepreneurship. Panels, masterclasses, workshops, marketplaces, many spaces were dedicated to connecting, sharing and accelerating entrepreneurial successes in seven areas: energy and environment, health and well-being, digital and tech, agri-food, education and training, financing.

An annual thought leadership paper on innovative entrepreneurship in Africa was launched in partnership with KPMG. For 3 years, entrepreneurs from 15 countries and 8 key sectors will be given the floor in order to identify pitfalls to avoid and models to replicate to allow entrepreneurship to flourish in Africa and the acceleration of the continent’s growth.

Danson Muchemi, 33-year-old, CEO of JamboPay, online payment solution and PayPal’s main competitor in Africa, and 37-year-old Leticia N’Cho Traoré, CEO of Addict Group, multi-sector serial entrepreneur model, received the Business Africa Entrepreneur Award of the year 2017 from Pascal Lorot, President of the Choiseul Institute and Pierre Gattaz, respectively, in the categories Jury’s Favorite and Young Woman Entrepreneur.

Among the best startups present, a dozen was selected for the Stars in Africa Award, a competition to reward the most promising young entrepreneurs of the continent. Supported by Wari and Schneider Electric, two of them won a prize and a dedicated support in the coming year: in the digital and technology category, Mobiticket of Nickson Nyakambi which deploys a public transit ticket system on mobile phone; in energy and environment category, Strauss Energy of Tony Nyagah which manufactures solar tiles.

Corporate Societal Engagement in the field as an asset for differentiation and sustainable competitiveness

For all attending companies, Stars in Africa was the occasion to score double. First of all, to get in touch with the young entrepreneurs that are coming up with the best innovation of the continent, in their ecosystem. A strategic move for the future development any industry. Nearly 200 young startupers were present, selected and brought by the partners (iHub, Afrobytes, FrenchTech, MakeIT, UP40).

Then, to showcase -as to be inspired- the best societal practices of companies which, developed in parallel of their business operations, contribute to youth entrepreneurship. These practices are increasingly important as countries struggle to attract and retain “quality” investments, meaning creating jobs and shared growth locally.

The organization of this forum has also struck a chord with regional observers. The #StarsInAfrica hashtag has been trending topic in 17 countries of the continent. President Kenyatta, accompanied by five members of his government, noted: “Through Pierre Gattaz, we salute the commitment of the MEDEF and the French business community”.

The first edition of Stars in Africa ended by looking at its next steps, in the next three years, in the different subregions of the continent. The commitment of various attending communities to continue to make youth entrepreneurship the key to inclusive growth in the continent is also expected to fuel many initiatives in the coming months.

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This first edition of Stars in Africa was held with the support of KPMG, Cevital, Qwant, NDC Pro, Engie, Emergence Capital, Wari and Schneider Electric.

Source: MEDEF

Image details: Adan Mohamed, Ministry of Industry, Investments and Trade of Kenya, Pierre Gattaz, President of the French Business Federation and Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, visiting the young entrepreneurs of iHub incubators in before Stars in Africa opening ceremony on March 6th.