Nairobi/Kampala: The unemployment figures in Africa are staggering, people aged between 18 and 35 years are the most affected, accounting for 60% of the unemployed according to the African Development Bank.
While this situation is discouraging for most people, it serves as a source of motivation for Patricia Jumi, who passionately works with talented, ambitious, innovative, and high potential entrepreneurs. Patricia strongly believes that entrepreneurship is the key to solving the joblessness situation on the continent and a key driver of economic and social progress.
Patricia is an Executive Director and founding partner of GrowthAfrica, a Kenya headquartered organisation that focuses on growing successful enterprises in Africa through business acceleration, strategic advice and facilitation of access to investments. Integral to this process is equally the development of the leadership skills and capacity of the entrepreneurs driving the enterprises.
“I believe that Africa’s fastest route to social and economic transformation is through entrepreneurship. If ambitious, committed and talented entrepreneurs get the support they need for their entrepreneurial journey, their businesses can accelerate their growth trajectory creating income generating opportunities and employment needed to accelerate the continent’s path to prosperity,” says Patricia Jumi, who holds an MBA from Copenhagen Business School which she completed in 2007 after receiving a Danida Fellowship for one year.
GrowthAfrica’s Acceleration Programme
GrowthAfrica has with its acceleration programme dedicated itself to the growth of African entrepreneurial ventures that Patricia Jumi is convinced is at the centre of the continent’s socio-economic growth.
“Our core acceleration programme is a six-months’ cohort based programme with additionally thirty months individualised support. The programme is based on our own, in house developed methodology and learning tool. It encompasses peer-to-peer learning, mentorship, facilitated business exploration and development as well as facilitated access to investors,” she explains.
The programme kicks off with a 5-days boot camp that introduces the overriding concepts and explains the methodology and approach of the programme to the founders of the typically 12 participating ventures. The entrepreneurs also conduct a diagnosis of their own business through intensive sessions with facilitators, advisors, mentors, catalysts and peers. It is followed by a series of six 3-days workshops that focus on topics such as: Customer engagement, product innovation, supply chain and production, distribution and sales as well as strategies for scale and investment.
When GrowthAfrica makes a call for applications from entrepreneurs, they receive about 150-250 applications per country. The recruitment phase is followed by a rigorous 4 phased selection process to narrow down to the best 12 ventures.
“It is very important to select entrepreneurs who are committed and want to scale their business significantly and are willing to do what it takes to achieve these goals. Over the years, we have watched entrepreneurs develop their leadership skills and steer their employees and businesses to unimaginable growth,” Patricia Jumi says.
GrowthAfrica has to date run 12 acceleration programmes (10 in Kenya, 1 in Uganda and 1 Ethiopia), graduating a total of 128 ventures and 248 entrepreneurs. GrowthAfrica is on a mission to scale its offering across the continent. Next stop is Zambia later this year.
“The goal of the programme is to accelerate and unlock significant growth of the businesses that we work it. We are committed to help these ventures increase their revenues and profits as well as prepare them to be investment ready. The GrowthAfrica team is very dedicated to ensure we deliver on our promises to the entrepreneurs,” Patricia adds
Since its inception, GrowthAfrica has worked with more than 100 businesses, which have created over 2,400 formal jobs. GrowthAfrica works with business from diverse sectors such as agribusiness, education, IT/mobile solution, fintech, renewable energy, construction and affordable housing, water and sanitation, health and manufacturing/processing.
“Imagine the number of jobs created if more than 100,000 businesses in Africa were given an opportunity to scale? We would not be having any jobless young people; the quality of life would improve as more people would meet their basic needs and the cycle of poverty on the continent would come to an end,” says Patricia.
It all began at university
Seeking to create job opportunities for young Africans is something Patricia Jumi has always been passionate about since her days in university. After enrolling at Makerere University, Uganda for a BA in Business Administration in 1997 she soon became an active member of AIESEC, a leading international youth organisation which provides internship and volunteering opportunities for students from 2,600 universities around the world.
“My role at AIESEC was to pair Ugandan students with international students and place the international students at high profile companies like Coca-Cola and DHL in Uganda. It was very exciting and challenging and it sparked off my interest in business leadership and job creation,” she says.
The future of GrowthAfrica
While supporting other entrepreneurs develop their businesses, Patricia has her own vision of how to expand GrowthAfrica. She wants it to become a franchise and roll out the accelerator model in most if not all African countries to leverage entrepreneurship as a key tool in job creation and economic development.
“When I look at the idle youth in many African cities I cannot help but envision the hidden talents. GrowthAfrica can help bring out, so why not make it a franchise?,” Patricia Jumi says.
She believes that focus on the growth of high potential ventures will ripple into these businesses employing talented African youth everywhere.