In a collective effort to address pressing environmental challenges and pave the way for sustainable economic growth, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), UNICEF’s Generation Unlimited (GenU), and IKEA Foundation have unveiled an innovative Green Entrepreneurship Programme called BeGreen Africa. The program aims to empower African youth, fostering green entrepreneurship while tackling the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and resource scarcity.
With a sharp focus on Africa, where environmental issues are becoming increasingly urgent, the partnership intends to create a lasting impact on the environment and provide sustainable job opportunities for the youth. The program draws from the success of previous initiatives like Generation Unlimited’s imaGen Ventures, Yoma solutions, and the Tony Elumelu Foundation’s entrepreneurship program.
“We know the critical role that green entrepreneurship and agripreneurship play in driving innovative solutions to environmental issues and are keen to empower our young ones across Africa, starting with Kenya, to deploy innovative solutions to the climate crisis. This initiative will empower young Africans with the entrepreneurial skills that are needed to accelerate the shift towards toward green economy. Working with great partners, IKEA Foundation and UNICEF Generation Unlimited, we will create new jobs, generate employment, improve livelihoods, help eradicate poverty and address climate issues in Africa,” Tony O. Elumelu, Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, said.
BeGreen Africa is designed to equip young African entrepreneurs with essential training, mentoring, and funding to develop innovative solutions contributing to Africa’s sustainable future. By providing a platform through workshops, mentorship programs, and funding opportunities, the initiative aims to encourage the creation of environmentally conscious businesses that effectively address pressing environmental concerns.
The key objectives of BeGreen Africa include empowering youth, fostering green job creation, addressing the triple planetary crisis, encouraging innovation, and contributing to a sustainable future for communities and the planet at large. The program will leverage the expertise and extensive network of the founding partners to develop green-focused curricula, engage expert trainers, facilitate mentor and alumni network connections, and provide seed capital funding to kickstart and scale green businesses.
The BeGreen waste management pilot, initially launching in Kenya with the support of IKEA Foundation, will train and economically empower 1,000 young individuals, all under 35 years old, empowering them to start or scale their green businesses. The initiative plans to expand its reach to Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, and Morocco with support from the government of the Netherlands through the GenU Trust Fund, focusing on green entrepreneurship across various sectors.
“We know that on the one hand, there won’t be enough jobs to go around for a fast-growing population. On the other hand, we have finite resources in the world. So, we need to look at how we can turn waste into value and create viable green jobs that help us stay within our planetary boundaries. To transition to a green and circular economy, we urgently need partnerships and coalitions of the willing, who are ready to experiment and scale, and who aren’t afraid to take risks,” Per Heggenes, CEO, IKEA Foundation said.
The BeGreen program aims to train at least 1,600 young individuals in green entrepreneurship and waste management across the five countries, providing over US$1 million in seed funding to 225 young entrepreneurs, enabling them to generate revenue and create a minimum of 8,000 jobs. The program’s multilingual Application Portal can be accessed via www.TEFConnect.com, and is open to young African entrepreneurs until September 30, 2023.