EY today announced a three year sponsorship agreement with Mara Foundation – a social enterprise that has been set up to support Africa’s emerging entrepreneurs in a move that will see EY provide mentors, monitoring and evaluation systems to improve Mara’s efficiency and general structuring, governance and operational advice.
This is aimed at boosting the chances of entrepreneurs turning their business ideas into reality and a shared belief that SMEs will act as a fundamental channel for increasing employment and building economic growth in Africa.
According to Ajen Sita, CEO for EY, Africa, “EY is passionate about supporting entrepreneurship and partnering with Mara Foundation in this regard is a perfect fit for us. It allows us to continue living our purpose of ‘Building a better working world’ through nurturing and developing entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are important to a nations’ economic health and by uplifting them we are giving back to the communities in which we live and serve.”
The sponsorship comes just one week after the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) announced a shake-up of aid programmes in Africa – shifting away from traditional priorities such as fighting disease and hunger and doubling funding in investments that boost growth and create jobs. Last month, Japan also announced a greater focus on Africa, as did the US who revealed plans to host a US-Africa summit in August to further strengthen ties with “one of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing regions”.
Mara Foundation, part of Mara Group, was established in 2009 to help create sustainable economic and business development opportunities for young business owners through a variety of initiatives including Mara Mentor – an online mentoring platform developed by Mara Online and Mara Ad-Venture Fund – a micro venture capital vehicle.
The deal will see EY to connect with entrepreneurs via Mara Foundation across Africa and further facilitate the opportunity to offer them concerted support in their growth.
“By 2040, Africa will be home to 1 in 5 of the world’s young people, and will have the largest workforce globally, at 1.1bn people. If Africa truly wants to compete internationally, we must seize the opportunity now to develop a workforce that is competent, confident and creative. Mara Foundation has been set up for this very reason, and I’m delighted that EY are on board to support us in our endeavours. Their insights and expertise will be invaluable to the entrepreneurs we work with,”Ashish J Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation.