As part of its mandate to increase sustainable global economic growth by creating a more empowering ecosystem for entrepreneurs, Ashish J Thakkar, Chairman, United Nations Foundation – Global Entrepreneurs Council (UNF – GEC) and Founder Mara Group and Mara Foundation calls for greater collaboration and engagement between emerging countries, particularly Africa and India, to facilitate new opportunities and accelerate job-creation over the next 5 years.
The economic welfare of developing countries and their integration into the global economy through economic liberalization, deregulation and democratization is seen as the paramount way to triumph over poverty and inequality.
Important to this process is the development of an animated entrepreneurial ecosystem in which small businesses can play a central role.
For small businesses, the benefits of international collaboration will:
Opening up export markets as products become compatible on a global scale
Increased operational efficiency
Increased adherence to international standards
In India Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-job policy is estimated to add almost 50 million jobs to the workforce by 2020 while 70 million new jobs are expected to be created across Africa in the same period. Accelerating entrepreneurial collaboration by the governments of both these regions can lead to the creation of up to 3 million new entrepreneurs by 2020. These 3 million entrepreneurs in turn will facilitate additional direct and indirect employment and economic benefits for 25 -30 million people in the same period. These new entrepreneurs combined can generate US$ 50 billion in economic benefits for the two regions by 2020, which is 50% of the combined value of India-Africa trade expected in 2015.
This surge in new entrepreneurial growth can further accelerate wealth creation for these two regions, adding to the US$ 500 billion in trade ties by 2020 as articulated by the joint vision of African leaders and Indian industrialists. This is expected to add a combined 30-40 million additional consumer households in Africa and India by 2020 (in addition to the existing 200 million consumer households across Africa and approximately 450 million in India).
Highlighting the enormous possibilities of collaboration and partnerships between the two regions, Ashish J Thakkar, Chairman, United Nations Foundation – Global Entrepreneurs Council and Founder Mara Group and Mara Foundation said, “Increasing entrepreneurial cooperation between India and Africa can play a significant role in poverty elimination and increasing employment. In the 21st century however I see entrepreneurs and innovators more central to finding sustainable solutions to these issues along with governments. The challenges and opportunities faced by continental Africa and the Indian sub-continent are strikingly similar. Both are economically vibrant regions, with a young workforce that is full of anticipation and hope for the future. A resurgent Africa and an economic power such as India have much to gain if they encourage and foster greater people-to-people collaboration through entrepreneurship and mentorship.”
He further added, “As Chairman of UN-GEC and an African business leader, I am deeply enthused by and have great respect for India’s and Prime Minister Modi’s partnership-oriented model of engagement with the African continent. This great partnership now needs to move from a government-to-government level to a people-to-people level to encourage greater innovation and economic benefits, to be led by entrepreneurs of both regions. This new entrepreneurial surge will bring in economic benefits of approximately US$ 50 billion while also increasing jobs and generating additional economic opportunities in the region. This will also support the key objectives of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.”
Most of these jobs are expected to be created in the area of modern retail, e-commerce, education, textiles, FMCG, healthcare, pharmaceutical and manufacturing. Cross-collaboration between the two regions will also accelerate knowledge sharing and capacity development.
In a conversation between Ashish J Thakkar and His Excellency, John Dramani Mahama, President, Republic of Ghana, the two leaders touched upon how entrepreneurs are ordinary people with extraordinary goals and people with solutions-in-progress. They spoke about a global human network linked by the internet and digital platforms to help them connect and collaborate — sharing skills, bringing insights and resources to create new solutions to accelerate sustainable economic growth and development. They encouraged India’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem led by a strong, digitally powered start-up community and 48 million strong SME base to look towards Africa for partnership and collaboration to encourage and facilitate entrepreneurship in both regions.
Greater entrepreneurial linkages between the two regions, home to over 2.2 billion people and also home to some of the earliest human civilizations directly links to the success of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Especially to Goal 8: Promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all. This goal directly links to goals 1 – 4 that advocate the goals of ‘no poverty,’ ‘no hunger,’ ‘good health and well-being,’ and ‘quality education.’ It also indirectly impacts goals 5 and 10 that advocate ‘gender equality,’ and ‘reduced inequalities’ respectively.
The United Nations Foundation – Global Entrepreneurs Council also urges India and Africa to leverage more effective use of the internet. Given their diverse topography and physical characteristics, the digital divide in both regions is a threat to continued skills development, education and healthcare outreach and the creation of regional entrepreneurial hubs which can facilitate new employment. The more effective use of social media oriented people to people connect, broadband technologies including satellite broadband along with existing terrestrial technologies will help bridge the digital gap more effectively and also help accelerate the growth of entrepreneurship.
Agriculture is a major economic sector of the African continent accounting for 25% of the GDP and employs 60% of the total workforce of African nations. Like in India, agricultural production in Africa is highly fragmented, since more than 85% of the farms occupy not more than two hectares. Indian and African entrepreneurs can use digital solutions to collaborate in the areas of developing new farm technologies and open new markets for agri-produce from both countries, create farmer self-reliance, combat the ill-effects of climate change thereby accelerating food security especially in the areas of pulses, fruits and vegetables. This in turn will also benefit the agri and food-processing industries in both their regions.
Africa-Indian trade grew steadily at a rate of almost 32 percent annually from 2005 to 2011. This growth was spurred by Indian private investments in ICT, energy, automobile manufacturing, and telecommunications. In the span of less than a decade, since 2007, Regional trade has more than doubled from US$ 25 billion to US$ 57 billion, while two-way trade is estimated to have reached US$ US$ 90 billion by the end of 2015. African leaders and Indian industrialists have expressed their joint vision of realizing US$ 500 billion in trade between Africa and India by 2020. African exports to India are growing at a rate of 32 percent annually, while India’s exports to Africa are growing at a rate of 23 percent. Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, and South Africa account for about 89 percent of Africa’s total export trade with India. Enabling greater people to people connect amongst entrepreneurs will ensure further surge in trade.
For more information on the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, please visit- www.unfoundation.org/GEC.
About the United Nations Foundation
The United Nations Foundation builds public-private partnerships to address the world’s most pressing problems, and broadens support for the United Nations through advocacy and public outreach. Through innovative campaigns and initiatives, the Foundation connects people, ideas, and resources to help the UN solve global problems. The Foundation was created in 1998 as a U.S. public charity by entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner and now is supported by global corporations, foundations, governments, and individuals. Learn more at www.unfoundation.org.
About Ashish J. Thakkar
Ashish is the Founder of the Mara Group and the Mara Foundation. Through its investments and operations, Mara Group now employs over 11,000 people across 22 African countries in sectors spanning technology, financial services, infrastructure, and real estate. Ashish is passionate about enabling, empowering and inspiring young and women entrepreneurs. To that end, in 2009, he founded Mara Foundation to foster and support emerging entrepreneurs through mentorship and venture philanthropy.
Being a global thought leader on entrepreneurship, Ashish is a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Africa and was recently awarded the Future Awards ‘Young Leader’ Award. In 2014, Ashish also won the MTV Base Leadership Award and was one of the first Africans to be featured in Fortune’s 40 under 40 list. Ashish advises several heads of state in Sub-Saharan Africa, and sits on Dell’s Global Advisory Board and the Board of ‘The Africa Center’, a creative space on New York’s Fifth Avenue which has a vision of becoming Africa’s embassy to the world.