By Jimoh Babatunde
The African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development, AUDA-NEPAD, and its strategic partners have rolled out the drums to celebrate the first anniversary of the 100,000 Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, MSMEs, Initiative.
AUDA-NEPAD launched the 100 000 MSMEs Initiative with advisory support from McKinsey & Company, financial and technical support from Ecobank, UNDP, USAID, Microsoft and the World Bank to accelerate African economic transformation, provide skills development programming and build resilience against the economic shock triggered by the global pandemic.
The 100 000 MSMEs Initiative’s ambition has been expanded to reach over 1.5 million MSMEs in Africa through training on entrepreneurial and business skills while establishing networks for support and incubation to bolster their success.
The Initiative comprised of three pillars underpinned by a digital platform: MSME Academy, MSME Finance, and MSME Marketplace.
The Initiative is aligned to Aspiration 1 of the African Union’s Agenda 2063, which aims at building a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development. It is also linked to UN Sustainable Development Goal 8, which promotes inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
Dr Ibrahim Mayaki, Chief Executive Officer at AUDA-NEPAD said “According to the International Finance Corporation, about 70 per cent of Africa’s total employment is contributed by MSMEs. This huge percentage highlights how critical the MSMEs are for building Africa’s socio-economic development.
“Indeed, we build back better with healthy economies. So far, the world’s largest economies have already spent USD 16 trillion in post-covid recovery efforts and in Africa, a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises centred approach to COVID-19 recovery can shift the continent’s economies to a sustainability trajectory.”
Between August 2020 and February 2021 with the support of the grassroots reach of Ecobank and the convening capacity of high-level government participation and the UNDP, the MSME Academy launched in thirteen countries and recorded the following results: registration by more than 25,000 MSMEs, 14,000 MSMEs attended online events, and more than 3 million participants tuned into webinars held on radio and online platforms.
The next step is to launch the Academy in the other Member States, with training modules delivered in at least five languages accessible across all 55 African countries.
Having successfully launched the MSME Academy in a few countries, AUDA-NEPAD and Microsoft partnered to deploy a digital learning platform to enhance free access to learning content online to help African youths gain the much-needed skills that would be a criterion to transit to an impending digital economy post-COVID-19.
To ensure the scalability of the Initiative, Microsoft is supporting the deployment of the MSME training platform, which is an Azure-powered online learning platform where MSMEs can access digital skills training and other relevant training content to help them in their entrepreneurship journey.
This content includes business processing, productivity tools content etc., which is available in both English and French. This platform supports learning on the go, while user experiences learning through videos and quizzes – even on low bandwidth or while learners are offline.