South Africa Prioritizing Social Entrepreneurship as Key to Africa’s Progress

South Africa Prioritizing Social Entrepreneurship as Key to Africa’s Progress | EduPulse Magazine
South Africa Prioritizing Social Entrepreneurship as Key to Africa’s Progress | EduPulse Magazine

South Africa’s minister of social development Lindiwe Zulu and African Development Bank (AfDB) Senior Vice President Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala have agreed that helping Africans acquire the skills to start and scale businesses is critical to building resilience.

Minister Zulu led a 10-person delegation for a courtesy visit with Tshabalala and African Development Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Beth Dunford, at the bank’s Abidjan headquarters on 16 May. The bank’s Director for Human Capital, Youth and Skills Development Martha Phiri, and other members of the Agriculture, Human and Social Development complex also attended.

Discussions touched on ways to boost opportunities for youth and women, the lessons of Covid-19 and the role South Africa can play in driving the rollout of social security across Africa.

“The entire continent needs comprehensive social security for its citizens,” said Zulu. We have to start obviously with our own country, and then do SADC.” She said the Covid-19 pandemic hit the middle class hard, prompting the government’s decision to provide grants of 350 rands ($18.35) to those that lost jobs and then to include those that had been out of work.

Zulu said the ministry was prioritizing social entrepreneurship as a long term strategy for South Africans.

Vice President Dunford agreed, saying,  “We really think getting people the skills they need to  drive the transformation of the country with ingenuity, energy, the resources they have, and to take forward their own ideas to really drive the private sector, which is the future.”

The Bank has been focused on providing youth and women with the skills and resources needed for entrepreneurship, Dunford added. She cited the Bank’s planned Youth Entrepreneurship Investment Banks program and the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa initiative as examples.

Director Phiri  pointed to the iDice initiative in Nigeria as a further example of the bank’s commitment to supporting African youth. In collaboration with partners, the $618 million iDice initiative will support more than 200 Nigerian technology and creative start-ups, including providing them with non-financial services.

“We believe we have a comparative advantage working in post-secondary education,” Phiri said.   She added: “With respect to technical and vocational training, we are providing support to infrastructure to expand access rates. Right now, access rates are below 20% and this is unacceptable.”

In closing remarks, Tshabalala said the Bank’s High-5 operational priorities influenced its value addition to projects.  “I think what we do which is unique is that in all of these 5 areas we understand that you don’t just build a road that goes from one place to the other. You think about what agriculture can I do there, what industrial activity can I put there. Do I need to put telecommunication s cables in there, can I put some training in there during the building of the project and beyond? What role can I put there for women and for children?”

She stressed that fragility was an issue in all African countries and needed to be taken into consideration in project planning. Tshabalala also expressed the hope that the issues that had been discussed during the meeting could be captured in order to inform the Bank’s country strategy paper (CSP) for South Africa.  The CSP is currently being prepared.

While in Abidjan, the South African delegation also met with representatives of the Ivorian government.


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