Fostering Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Livelihoods in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Multi-country Policy Research and Capacity- Building Initiative

Support for entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises is vital to stimulate jobs and to encourage self-employment in developing countries where labour markets are often unable to absorb the growing number of job seekers, including youth.

Evidence-based research will support policymakers' efforts to foster entrepreneurship and sustainable livelihoods in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly among youth. Researchers will use an internationally recognized and tested approach developed by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) to generate new knowledge about entrepreneurship and SME development in the region. It will shed light on policy questions, including:
- Are sub-Saharan youth entrepreneurial?
- What types of entrepreneurial activities are they engaged in?
- What differences exist between young men and women in the type of start-up businesses and their growth prospects? What accounts for this?
- What issues and challenges affect business creation and life cycle in sub-Saharan Africa? Do young entrepreneurs face additional challenges? How do gender and culture shape these issues?
- Do sub-Saharan youth view entrepreneurship as a viable option? Does this differ between young men and women?
- What are the sources of innovation among young entrepreneurs in the region? What policies can facilitate this?
- What accounts for differences across countries in entrepreneurial attitudes, activity levels, business start-up rates, and life cycles?

The project is a collaborative effort between researchers and institutions in 10 African countries: Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, and Zambia, with a possibility of expanding to other countries in the region. It is a concerted effort to collect regional data and to understand the dynamics of entrepreneurship. Country and regional performance levels will be benchmarked against other countries. Researchers will also assess why one country is more entrepreneurial than another and what this means for job creation and growth prospects. The University of Cape Town's Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will coordinate the work.

Project ID


Project status


Start Date

Thursday, December 22, 2011

End Date

Friday, October 16, 2015


40 months

IDRC Officer

Melesse, Martha

Total funding

CA$ 1,500,000


South of Sahara, Angola, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Uganda, Zambia, South Africa


Employment and Growth

Project Leader

Mike Herrington


University of Cape Town

Institution Country

South Africa

Institution Website