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African Union endorsement
StartUpAfrica Executive Director Erastus Mong’are (right) and African Union Deputy Chair Erastus Mwencha at the conference where the endorsement took place.

African Union endorsement

StartUpAfrica to implement Diamond Challenge curriculum in countries throughout Africa

Last summer, Dan Freeman and Julie Frieswyk from the University of Delaware’s Horn Program in Entrepreneurship visited Kenya, where they worked in partnership with Wilmington-based StartUpAfrica to provide educational opportunities and encourage youth entrepreneurship there and in other East African nations.

Freeman and Frieswyk, hosted by StartUpAfrica Executive Director Erastus Mong’are, traveled to four counties throughout Kenya to visit students who participated in the Horn Program’s Diamond Challenge for High School Entrepreneurs. There they learned about the students’ exciting ideas, goals and dreams, and about how their projects were making real and positive impacts on their lives and communities.

This fall, this relationship has taken another step forward, as the African Union (AU) has endorsed the Diamond Challenge as well as StartUpAfrica.

The endorsement took place at the 2016 StartUpAfrica Entrepreneurship Conference at George Mason University, where the conference keynote speaker AU Deputy Chair Erastus Mwencha also delivered and signed a partnership letter between the AU and StartUpAfrica.

“StartUpAfrica has been called on to transfer its experience in the area of entrepreneurship in school curricula under the Diamond Challenge program to other African countries,” Mong’are said.

Other goals of the partnership include transferring this curriculum to AU Technical and Vocational Educational and Training (TVET) centers and providing assistance to AU entrepreneurship programs targeting women-led businesses.

According to Mwencha, AU's technical teams managing these programs have identified the work of StartUpAfrica as "an excellent complement to AU's own programs."

Mong’are said that the growing success StartUpAfrica and the Diamond Challenge in Africa shows that opportunities are growing and developing for entrepreneurs throughout Africa.

“We at StartUpAfrica take this endorsement and partnership with gratitude knowing that the road behind us has been hard and the one ahead of us will be even harder,” Mong’are said. “But we are prepared for the challenge to deliver quality entrepreneurship programs for youth and women in Africa.”

Frieswyk added that the AU endorsement opens the door for new and additional resources for these programs in African nations, and suggests that the Diamond Challenge / StartUpAfrica model is succeeding.

True to form, Frieswyk described this success using the same terms that any entrepreneur would: “Similar to when a startup gets venture funding, it’s a signal that what you’re providing is valuable and addressing a real need.”

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