International employability and entrepreneurship programme aids partnerships for 24 UK and Sub-Saharan Africa universities

Bayes Business School programme works to reduce levels of youth unemployment in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Twenty-four Sub-Saharan Africa university entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems have been strengthened because of an initiative, led by Bayes Business School (formerly Cass), The University of Nairobi, and colleagues at ChangeSchool.

The Innovation for African Universities (IAU) Programme, launched in 2021 and funded by the British Council, was tasked with improving the prospects of employability in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa by funding partnerships between universities in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Results from the programme include improvements in 24 entrepreneurial ecosystems, working on topics including biotechnology, agri-entrepreneurship, inclusive innovation, carbon literacy and the circular economy, sustainable tourism, construction and social enterprise. Projects have delivered improved training for students and staff and developed long-term partnerships across different stakeholder groups, including with UK universities and other ecosystem players.

Projects found ways to reach out to communities that are underserved by entrepreneurship education, such as disabled or rural-based populations. Other projects took a problem-solving approach and focused on using technology to solve community pain points – such as resolving the plastics waste or post-harvest losses.

There are also indications that these partnerships are now able to start better quality ventures that employ more people and help solve rising unemployment levels in Africa.

The aims of the programme, steered by Professor Sam Kamuriwo, with support from Dr Sara Jones and Professor Harry Scarbrough, were to develop skills to help build industries, companies, products, and services, while supporting the internationalisation of universities in both continents, who continue to support overseas initiatives.

Professor Kamuriwo said:

“The key to our success was the community platform we built – with more than 300 academic and ecosystem players from more than 80 entities across five countries with a passion for entrepreneurship. Coming together to exchange knowledge and build skills and work to strengthen innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystems was great to see.”

Dr Jones, Director of the Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice, has previously worked on other international projects as part of the Creative Spark: Higher Education Enterprise Programme, which works to develop entrepreneurship and enterprise skills across Ukraine, central Asia and the South Caucasus. These projects in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan have already trained 74 academics and over 1,300 students, resulting in new business ideas for solar panels, smart mirrors and Oinobook – a felt book teaching children in Kyrgyzstan about local traditions – among many others.

“It’s been wonderful to have the opportunity to apply lessons learnt through previous research and practice in this exciting new context,” said Dr Jones. “It is incredibly rewarding to see the impact that many of the projects in the IAU programme are already having, for the young people of Africa, and beyond.”


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