YAS! acts as a hub for young entrepreneurs by aggregating existing information, access to finance, mentorship and networking opportunities.
Young African entrepreneurs with potential to scale up across the region will soon have access to financing and support through a new innovative platform.
YAS!, or Youth for Africa and SDGs, was launched at the Responsible Business Forum taking place in South Africa’s capital, Johannesburg, from 25-27 June 2018. The platform is an online portal developed by UNDP in partnership with Accenture South Africa. It aims to address the four main pillars of the entrepreneurship ecosystem: Information, Mentorship, Funding and Network.
“The YAS! platform, placed in the context of the YouthConnekt initiative, serves as a Pan-African ‘one-stop solution’ to navigate the support services available in the African youth entrepreneurship ecosystem. This will help young people who are developing Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)-related business ideas, and harness the innovation potential of the continent,” said Lamin Momodou Manneh, Director of UNDP’s Regional Service Centre for Africa.
“YAS! will better serve the private sector with innovation, supplier diversification and talent in the African continent and in parallel accelerate the growth of the entrepreneurship eco-system,” said Sandiso Sibisi, Open Innovation Africa Lead at Accenture.
YAS! is a marketplace portal platform, enabling the industry to aggregate existing information, access to finance, mentorship and networking opportunities; and providing easy access to young entrepreneurs through a listing of micro-sites as well as a map-based directory searchable by country and by sector (e.g. finance, networking, mentoring, government program, incubator, etc.).
The initiative will also award financing for youth to develop or scale and implement innovations to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a universal call to action by the United Nations to join efforts to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity. The UNDP-funded challenges on YAS! provide awards/grant financing for the development of youth driven entrepreneurship at two levels:
- Ecosystem challenges: grants focus on catalyzing local ecosystems by providing financial support for local ecosystem players to promote youth entrepreneurship through the provision of support to activities such as business plan development, mentorship events, networking and pitch events at the country level.
- Start-Up and Entrepreneurship Challenges: grants directly fund the development of business ideas, procurement bids from corporates, and equity financing to more established start-ups, providing them the funding they require. YAS! provides entrepreneurship training to the youth that they need to articulate their business propositions.
As part of the launch, YAS! is running an Open Innovation Challenge to work towards achieving the SDGs. Winning entries will receive funding to develop, validate and scale ideas. More information can be found here.