The Africa Growth Platform (AGP) was born out of the realization and acknowledgment of the vulnerability of small businesses in Africa, notably 14% of Startups are more likely to fail compared to the global average. The evolution of the COVID-19 crisis so far has demonstrated that individuals and organizations in a vulnerable state will be even more impacted by the crisis. Thus, it is essential that the operational environment of SMEs and Startups is protected to ensure they survive, retain jobs and drive innovation.
As a multisectoral mechanism bringing together various stakeholder groups including; governments, the business community, startups and investors; the AGP is uniquely placed to provide a forum to coordinate and enhance collective action among various stakeholder groups in order to maximize impact. The AGP can help to bring coherence among the already existing responses of Forum partners and African governments. This new objective is very much aligned with the AGP’s founding mission.
Launched at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, South Africa in September 2019, the AGP was established as a mechanism for the business community in Africa to collectively support the growth of SMEs and Startups in the region. The AGP is an initiative of the Africa Regional Business Council (2018-2019). At its inception the platform had three key objectives with the goal of creating and scaling jobs across the continent:
- Securing commitments from governments to implement policy reforms aimed at stimulating and accelerating business growth.
- Building a community of investors to enable better coordination and pooling of resources that could facilitate larger subsequent rounds of funding.
- Creating and sustaining a community of Startup businesses while promoting collaboration and sharing best practices.
In order to accomplish those goals particularly in the current climate, governments, investors and entrepreneurs must work together to enhance funding prospects and create better enabling environments for business growth so that Africa’s Startups can grow and compete in international markets.
The COVID-19 crisis offers a new opportunity to re-examine the utility of the Forum’s multi-stakeholder model and its possible application to influencing the development of solutions to support Africa's entrepreneurial ecosystems and build resilience through the remainder of the crisis and the economy’s recovery thereafter.