Concordia launches an initiative to establish innovative partnerships in Africa
Concordia President Graham Carr announced the launch of the Concordia Africa Initiative on June 12 at the annual Conference of Montreal, part of the International Economic Forum of the Americas. The initiative seeks to establish relationships and learn from Africa through unique collaborations that focus on youth employability and entrepreneurship.
Of all the world’s continents, Africa has the youngest population, with more than 60 per cent aged 25 or younger. By 2030, it is estimated that young Africans will constitute 42 per cent of global youth, figures that hold tremendous potential and challenges for the continent and the world’s economic growth and development.
“Concordia has placed Africa at the heart of its international relations because of the endless opportunities for innovative collaborations, as well as the chance to learn from the people and institutions across the length and breadth of this dynamic continent,” Carr explains. “Like Africa, Concordia is young, diverse and brimming with talent who will have a profound and exciting impact on the world.”
A three-pronged approach
The Concordia Africa Initiative is divided into three streams, each with a specific focus and set of activities:
- AFRISE focuses on supporting young African entrepreneurs and providing them with a range of dedicated activities such as mentorship and business incubation, as well as access to networks of experienced business leaders.
- FutureWise centres on collaborating with African institutions on adopting programming to reduce the gap between graduation and employment rates in Africa through cooperative education, applied research and online learning.
- A scholarly collaborations stream will promote the exchange of scholars, artists and students between Africa and Concordia, as well as fostering the development of new research and scholarship.
A promising start
To date, the initiative has made promising headway in forming a robust foundation for success.
Earlier this year through AFRISE, 30 young African entrepreneurs were selected from a pool of 400 to participate in a four-week mentorship and leadership development accelerator. The university invited the top five entrepreneurs to Montreal to make important connections for the next phase of their project.
“AFRISE gave me the opportunity to connect with founders from other parts of Africa, and that made me appreciate the entrepreneurial spirit that resonates within us as one,” says Olalekan Salami, CEO and founder of OneID.
“Africa is on an exponential rise and the youths are contributing largely to it. It was a great time to exchange ideas and experiences and support one another.”
FutureWise has initiated its five-year plan by partnering with the Association of Commonwealth Universities, the Agence universitaire de la Francophonie and the University of Lagos. Together, they engaged with hundreds of recent African graduates, as well as employers, foundations and universities, to get a comprehensive picture of the gaps that exist between graduation and employment rates in Africa.
Scholarly collaborations are currently in the development stage.
Learn more about the Concordia Africa Initiative.