Digital Platform Development for Southern Africa Youth Entrepreneurship Development Project
Description of project
Thuma Mina is the Southern Africa Youth Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Development Project aimed at stemming the tide of youth unemployment. Inspired by Souk At-Tanmia in North Africa, it steered the ecosystem towards a robust, sustainable pipeline of scalable youth-led projects, especially those operating on the periphery, while addressing the fragmentation and inefficiencies in the ecosystem.
The web-based portal and its mobile application/interface were a unique gateway for young entrepreneurs, a one-stop shop that connected them to tailor-made support along their journey. It revolved around three intertwined pillars:
(i) Ecosystem building platform/steering committee led by an IT solutions developer and an ESO (Ecosystem Support Organization)/Consultant. The platform aggregated efforts within the community of key players in the MSMEs sector, offered business ideas screening and support facilitation, knowledge generation, monitoring and evaluation, as well as resources/services (including incubators) mapping and connection;
(ii) Technical Assistance to selected business ideas, through tailor-made, client-oriented non-financial support packages throughout the journey, from Ideation to Pre-Operational up to Post-Creation phase, including policy dialogue on the enabling environment. BDS (Business Development Services) partners and mentors/coaches could be based anywhere and connected through the platform;
(iii) Access to blended (loans-grants) finances for business ideas graduating out of the technical assistance. In the first phase of the program, access to finance was done through a partner financial institution and linkages (referral) to SFMs, impact investors/funds, and existing public and private sector relevant programs.
For the next phase, as the pipeline significantly grew with more countries joining the regional platform, it was envisaged to facilitate access to finance through a market-based venture capital fund with the Bank as the anchor investor, return on equity investment, and participation from other DFIs. Additionally, capital markets OTC products would be developed in partnership with JSE to create sustainable access to finance for these enterprises. At the end of the first phase, one regional platform went live, and 600 young entrepreneurs (50% women) had directly accessed financial resources and business development services. Each supported MSME created at least 3 decent jobs, adding a total of 1800 decent jobs to the economy. The financial support had a minimum of 1.5 times catalytic effects.
To analyze the technological options for the delivery of the platform, including existing platforms of the Bank that could be totally or partially reutilized (with modifications), recommendations were made on the solutions that fit best and what has worked in other similar portals in Africa. A first prototype based on a platform design prepared by the EDS consultants was implemented. To achieve this objective, the Developer worked collaboratively with the EDS consultant and the Bank's staff. The development of a full version of the portal was an iterative process that considered multi-stakeholder views and inputs and went beyond the scope of this contract. The creation of a first visual and operational prototype facilitated this process and ensured that the software development work for the future final portal was done efficiently, considering all the necessary requirements.