The Africa Young Entrepreneur Support (YES) Programme will run a six-month training in entrepreneurship, leadership and business skills for 25 early stage social entrepreneurs.
The programme, which targets entrepreneurs under the age of 30, began on January 17, and it will run through to June this year. It seeks to recognise opportunities, explore innovative approaches, mobilise resources, manage risks, and build viable social enterprises for budding industrialists.
Africa Yes Program Lead Isaac Jumba says thereafter, three entrepreneurs will receive minimum fund grants of Sh1.5 million each, with zero-equity funding, to impart their communities.
Top cohorts, he adds, will also be connected to other funding pools.
“We incubate early stage social entrepreneurs, and expose them to our hands-on and practical learning model around sessions such as design thinking, building scalable business models, financial management that they can apply in their businesses,” Mr Jumba says.
The pilot project was undertaken in 2017, after which the first YES cohort ran last year, between January and June. The programme runs for six months every year for each cohort between January and June, and July and November.
“We give social entrepreneurs safe space where they can learn from their peers and other mentors,” Mr Jumba says.
The initiative, he notes, allows cohorts to learn from other social entrepreneurs as well as a rich pool of facilitators and mentors.
The programme focuses on “some of the world’s biggest problems” in education, health, climate change, food security, poverty, among others.
“So once our applications open, we review all of them and invite all the social entrepreneurs that meet our criteria for an online interview after which they are invited for a chat, with a panel of judges who access the venture and entrepreneur to see if they are a fit for what we are looking for and vice versa,” Mr Jumba says.
The next step, he says, is to visit the actual working places of finalists to access their works and impacts on the ground.
“Our criteria for selection includes ventures that have a clear problem they are solving in their community. Their solutions must be viable, tested and already in place,” Mr Jumba says.
“We look for self-starters, leaders, change makers who are building viable businesses and creating impact in their local communities and beyond.”
He says one challenge they face is scaling-up beyond East Africa where there are many budding entrepreneurs who would love to enroll in the programme.
“More Impact amongst social entrepreneurs will mean more impact among the communities they serve,” Mr Jumba says.
He says some of their investors include Africa Insight and Beautiful Store Foundation.