The high youth unemployment rate is a significant concern for Sub-Saharan countries, including Kenya, Ghana, and South Africa. The tourism sector has a high potential for creating employment, driving economic growth, and supporting the achievement of sustainable development goals. However, the current tourism jobs for youth in Sub-Saharan Africa are viewed as majorly insecure low-skilled opportunities with low pay, low innovation and few entrepreneurs.
Accelerating Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation for Sustainable Tourism in Africa is a multi-partnership project implemented in Kenya, Ghana & South Africa. Implemented by the University of Brighton, Strathmore University (Kenya), University of Ghana, Sustainable Travel & Tourism Agenda & the Africa Tourism Partners (SA)., the project aimed to provide a practical solution to high-skilled youth unemployment and underemployment in the tourism sectors in the 3 countries. The project design included a mentorship approach for promoting social entrepreneurship that is digitally innovative and climate-smart among tourism students in the 3 countries. The project sought to stimulate sustainable youth entrepreneurship through innovation hubs, mentorship, and access to innovative virtual learning and entrepreneurship platforms.
Implemented in two phases, phase 1 sought to investigate the problem and design the project. Phase 2 comprised project implementation and learning. Phase 1 research findings showed that most tourism students and graduates in the three countries are either unemployed or underemployed. They also lack the entrepreneurship skills and support to develop digital and climate-friendly entrepreneurial ideas for sustainable tourism.
In phase 2, seven coaches, i.e., 5 lecturers and 2 private sector players, carried out training for tourism students on social entrepreneurship in tourism for sustainable development. Forty-five(45) tourism students (fifteen from Kenya, fifteen from Ghana and fifteen from South Africa) and six (6) coaches from higher education institutions and the private sector in the 3 participating countries were onboarded.
The University of Brighton's INSPIRE Open Innovation for SMEs online platform (https://inspire-smes.com/) was adopted for the tourism sector. The platform provides staff and students with the skills, knowledge, tools, technology, and strategic partnership needed to deliver innovative and sustainable (social) entrepreneurship ventures in the African context.
15 out of 45 students were able to complete the coaching process & pitched their business project ideas to a panel of judges & 20 network partners. Out of the 15, 8 students secured seed funding to implement their projects.