Wits, British Council to boost innovation in Africa
- Wits University
The new Wits Entrepreneurship Clinic will form part of the Innovation for African Universities Project that will drive economic development.
A new Wits Entrepreneurship Clinic, based in the School of Business Science, has been selected to be part of the newly formed Innovation for African Universities (IAU) project, part of the British Council’s Going Global Partnerships programme. The University of Edinburgh with whom Wits recently renewed a partnership, is the UK partner in the project, together with ecosystem players - the Africa Circular Economy Network and the Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct.
“The Wits Entrepreneurship Clinic will see senior commerce students provide advice on entrepreneurship-related issues to members of the Wits community and the general public,” explains Dr Rob Venter, a project leader from the Wits School of Business Science. “These students will be supported by academic staff, alumni, volunteers, and leaders with experience in entrepreneurship. We are grateful for the grant from the British Council which will help to get the Wits Entrepreneurship Clinic off the ground.”
The 24 successful 2021 IAU network partners will receive funding of up to £60,000 to deliver their projects, which address entrepreneurship, youth employability, climate change and digital innovation. The inspiring projects address local and global challenges, and reflect their extensive understanding of community needs and challenges. The partners will benefit from a shared UK-African network of collaborative partnerships which support an exchange of learning that fosters an increased culture of entrepreneurship and innovation within universities across focal programme locations.
Youth are Africa's greatest asset, with the youth population in Sub-Saharan Africa expected to double to over 830 million by 2050. This growth will bring unprecedented opportunities for entrepreneurship and innovation. But many young Africans lack the opportunities, training and support to develop their ideas for businesses and enterprise.
The Going Global Partnerships Programme aims to foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within universities and to facilitate the development of skills required to build industries, companies, products and services. The IAU project is specifically designed to support the development of African-UK University partnerships that build institutional capacity for higher education engagement in entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems in selected African countries.
“By bringing together universities from across the UK and sub-Saharan Africa with organisations supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in the region, we can facilitate an exchange of learning, ideas, knowledge and connections to enable universities to become key champions for innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Moses Anibaba OBE, the Regional Director of the British Council for sub-Saharan Africa. “We recognise the key role that universities can play in the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Africa, helping enable African youth to become the job creators of tomorrow and drivers of economic development in the continent.”
Mandisa Cakwe, Director: Teaching, Learning and Research Development in the South African Department of Higher Education and Training adds: “Partnerships are key for the expansion and strengthening of the higher education system in South Africa. The IAU is building partnerships between universities in Africa and the UK, which will help us to achieve our strategic goals and contribute to building the capacity of students and staff, as well as improving the curriculum in specific areas that some projects will focus on. The department welcomes the support of the programme and is looking forward to more possible areas for future collaboration. The IAU promises to be a great and much needed platform for collaboration, learning, and knowledge exchange.”