The United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs indicated that, there were 1.2 billion youth aged 15-24 years in 2015. This is projected to reach nearly 1.3 billion by 2030. Despite this large youth population, developing countries have failed to absorb the youth into their education systems and labor markets, thereby not fully benefiting from this “youth dividend.” In Africa young people account for over 60% of all unemployed workers. According to the International Labor Organization, young people in the region stay unemployed for longer periods which can have multiple negative effects on society. Sustained unemployment reinforces intergenerational transmission of poverty, promotes anti-social behaviors and violence.
The Swiss Re Start Up Academy is a collaboration between JA Ghana and Aiducation International, a Swiss-based non-profit organisation and funded by the Swiss Re Foundation. The academy is a one week residential entrepreneurship workshop with the goal to introduce senior high school graduates and students in tertiary institutions to and build their understanding of key concepts and their application in starting and running a business.
The program is aimed at inspiring talented students from financially disadvantaged backgrounds to identify opportunities around them, live up to their potentials in life and influence their communities positively.
The students team up with business ideas and work together in the week to develop the business model. They are mentored by staff of Swiss Re and other accomplished entrepreneurs in Ghana. The mentors facilitate sessions and act as coaches for students, guiding them through developing business models, providing advice and helping troubleshoot challenges they encounter.
Participants of the Swiss Re Start Up Academy are inducted into the Global Young Leaders Alliance (GYLA), a network of past and new participants of the Swiss Re Start Up Academy in Kenya and the Philippines, enabling them to connect with each other, have professional discussions, share jobs and opportunities and support each others’ businesses.