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Measuring the Impact of Educational Institutions in Higher Education in West Africa: key indicators

Since the 2000s, there has been a massive expansion in private higher education provision. This offer is characterized by diversity, ranging from micro-institutions with few resources to large university groups….

Since the 2000s, there has been a massive expansion in private higher education provision. This offer is characterized by diversity, ranging from micro-institutions with few resources to large university groups. This rapid growth reinforces the need to measure the social impact of these institutions, in order to guarantee and control the quality of the training on offer.

In partnership with 60_decibels (1), an impact measurement company, I&P Education to Employement (2), a funding program that aims to improve access to quality education, has set up “lean data” surveys to monitor and improve the measurement of the impact of companies funded by the program.

Between 2021 and 2023, 60dB conducted 23 studies with 18 post-secondary institutions. Researchers trained by 60dB conducted 5,448 telephone interviews with alumni of the institutions. These alumni were randomly selected from databases compiled and shared by each institution, with cohorts ranging from 5 years up to their entry into the IP2E program. Where possible, 60dB targeted a sample of 200-250 alumni per institution, to guarantee a 90% confidence level and a 5% margin of error. These data were essential to help companies better understand their role in their alumni’s career paths. They guided the implementation of strategies, supported by IP2E, to improve their impact on their current students.

In a subregional context of data scarcity, this article looks at the main indicators that educational companies should take into account when measuring their impact.

To access the full report : click here

Rapport : L’impact des entreprises éducatives privées sur l’employabilité des jeunes en Afrique

  • Understanding the demographic profile of your students

Institutions need to understand not only the geographical, but also the socio-economic origins of their students. These segmentations are essential, in order to assess whether all students, whatever their gender, age, socio-economic level or place of residence, have the same chances of finding a job. These parameters can guide companies in setting up specific mechanisms, such as social grants, or relocation to rural areas.

I&P, through the IP2E program, investigates whether students come from disadvantaged backgrounds, by examining key variables: whether they live in rural areas, whether they study in areas where socio-economic development indicators are low, and whether they need social inclusion mechanisms (i.e. scholarships) to pursue their studies. For the purposes of this report, institutions with more than 80% of students from disadvantaged backgrounds are classified as having a “high” level of disadvantage.


  • Measuring professional integration

The professional integration of graduates is a key indicator of the effectiveness of educational institutions, but its measurement is complex.

For the purposes of this study, the insertion rate refers to the proportion of former students who report being currently employed, and who report having found a job within six months of graduation. Graduates’ insertion rates can be influenced by external factors such as economic conditions, making it difficult to attribute employment directly to the quality of the education received.

At the time of the study, 61% of alumni from IP2E portfolio institutions were employed. 39% found a job within six months of their training.

Institutions also need to understand the reasons why their alumni are not employed. Alumni interviewed cited a lack of job opportunities in a competitive environment, administrative problems with their institutions and career transitions to explain this situation. 10% were still studying at the time of the study.

Taux d'insertion

  • Identifying the most promising career paths

The study revealed that former students with a vocational training diploma are more likely to enter the job market independently, and therefore have the highest average integration rate, at 46%. Institutions also need to determine whether the skills imparted are being used by students in their work.

  • Knowing how to find a job

Establishments can measure their contribution to students’ job search. To do this, they need to identify through which intermediaries students have found their jobs. In our study, nearly 3 out of 10 former students relied on friends or family to find a job. 15% also rely on external networks. Only 12% find their jobs through the career guidance services offered by the schools. Yet this is one of the main reasons why students recommend their school. Companies therefore need to strengthen their career services.

  • Find out about graduated satisfaction

Alumni’s employment status influences their level of satisfaction with the school. The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is a common indicator of customer satisfaction and loyalty. The study reveals that it is higher among employed students than among unemployed ones. Former students take into account the quality of training, the relevance of training, the learning environment and the support given to students in their job search.

  • Integrating the multi-dimensionality of impact measurement

60 dB has created an impact index specific to I&P: the I&P Education Impact, which includes the factors most cited by alumni in defining their quality of life. It was measured through a deliberately open-ended question, to find out how alumni perceive their well-being. The most important parameters that emerged were :

      • Employment conditions: the most fundamental factor is having a job, whether formally or informally, or through self-employment or an advisory role.
      • First job: getting your first job within six months of graduating is also a key factor in effective professional integration.
      • Retirement benefits: the retirement pension is the first social benefit declared and serves as an indicator of formal employment. It is a sign of access to a basic and essential benefit.
      • Job satisfaction: the type of job (formal, informal, internship, self-employment) also plays a key role.
      • Satisfaction with salary: similarly, in addition to satisfaction with the job itself, satisfaction with salary is also important, as it covers the financial aspects.
      • Quality of Life: the improvement in general well-being, as perceived by alumni themselves, is a key impact indicator.

Qualité de vie


By 2030, 30 million young people will be entering the African job market every year. Universities and vocational training centers play a vital role in enabling students to develop their skills to the full and make an effective contribution to the job market. The impact of higher education institutions in West Africa is multidimensional, encompassing professional insertion, social inclusion and improved quality of life for students. Measuring this impact presents significant but essential challenges for informing educational policies and institutional practices.

(1) 60_decibels is an impact measurement company that brings speed and scalability to social impact measurement and customer insight.

(2) The I&P Education to Employment Initiative (IP2E), an impact financing program launched in 2021 that aims to improve access to quality education and strengthen the training-employment match in Africa, in order to guarantee better employment opportunities. IP2E finances and supports private companies in the post-secondary education ecosystem.

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Conversations with Senegal’s educational ecosystem: the imperatives to employability

Each year, Senegal sees a cohort of 200,000 young people enter the job market, according to official figures from the Ministry of Employment, Vocational Training, Apprenticeship and Integration. Yet, despite…

Each year, Senegal sees a cohort of 200,000 young people enter the job market, according to official figures from the Ministry of Employment, Vocational Training, Apprenticeship and Integration. Yet, despite this abundance of potential manpower, youth unemployment remains a major concern.

This reality raises a crucial question: why this gap between job supply and demand? And why are so many young graduates struggling to find a place in the job market?

In the 21st century, professions have undergone a continuous and growing evolution, requiring graduates not only to have technical qualities, but above all to be able to demonstrate personal and interpersonal skills and attitudes: soft skills.

In this article, we talk to a number of people involved in education, vocational training and entrepreneurship in Senegal, about updating knowledge and the importance of developing soft skills for employability.


” The skills young people are trained in are not always adapted to the real needs of the job market. “

The training of young people must be aligned with the real needs of the labor market to ensure an effective transition from education to employment. On the one hand, this gap can be explained by the fact that too much emphasis is placed on the acquisition of theoretical knowledge to the detriment of practical skills. In the short to medium term, this gap can be bridged by hands-on learning in the early years of training, through internships or work-study schemes. Secondly, there is the technological lag: technological advances are constantly modifying skill requirements, and training programs are not updated quickly enough to keep pace with this evolution.

– Florence Diob, Financing Manager, Financing Fund for Vocational and Technical Training


”  Developing soft skills as well as hard skills”

The quality of education has improved significantly, at least from a technical point of view, but employability requires learners to develop soft skills as well as hard skills. Communicating effectively, resolving conflicts, managing interpersonal relations… these skills can be acquired through an initial training circuit, but also via continuing and short-term training courses. Working on these aspects enables you to acquire a complete set of skills that are necessary to succeed and assert yourself in a competitive professional world.

– Harouna Thiam, Responsable Formation-Insertion – Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training


” Teach and professionalize “

There is a notable difference between teaching, which is the transmission of knowledge and concepts, and professionalizing, which aims to prepare learners for a professional environment by developing practical, applicable skills.

We offer a school-enterprise training program, with two application restaurants and a patisserie, so that students are exposed to a professional environment right from the start of their apprenticeship. Since 2006, we have also set up partnerships with leading hotel establishments to recruit young apprentices. In the near future, we also plan to set up a placement agency for our graduates.

– Sidy Dieme, Director of Institut Les Marmitons[1]


” An entrepreneurial school “

The vast majority of training courses teach students how to do a job. We have made it our mission to teach them how to create one. Our actions begin in the first year of the bachelor’s degree, with the inclusion of an entrepreneurial module in the curriculum to complement managerial skills.

The Entrepreneurial School takes place in 3 stages:

  • Year 1: Discovery of entrepreneurship with a project idea for each student;
  • Year 2: Students create a mini-company or scenario for a service;
  • Year 3: Creation of a business plan.

We focus specifically on developing the entrepreneurial skills, business knowledge and aptitudes needed to create, manage and develop a successful business.

– Georges Ndeye, Managing Director, ISM Ziguinchor [2]


” Economists must map employment needs ” 

Major labor market trends can be anticipated. Mapping employment needs is crucial to ensuring a better match between supply and demand in the labor market, fostering economic development, reducing unemployment and improving the productivity and competitiveness of workers and companies.

On the other hand, the results of this mapping would enable a greater number of young people to better orient themselves in their choice of academic path, and at the same time prevent a potential skills shortage.

– Mame Pemba Balde, HR Manager CRS West Africa [3]


The development of human capital for adaptability and integration skills in a fast-changing job market underlines the importance of rethinking educational strategies. Training programs must now not only motivate students, but also actively prepare them for their future careers by developing their soft skills.

This approach calls for a reassessment of the role of initial training, with the emphasis on boosting self-confidence, individual fulfillment and the development of cross-disciplinary skills through internships and work experience.

En investissant dans le développement des soft skills, en adaptant les programmes éducatifs aux besoins du marché du travail et en favorisant la collaboration entre ces différents acteurs, le Sénégal peut créer un environnement propice à l’épanouissement professionnel de sa jeunesse et à une croissance économique durable.


[1] *Les Marmitons est un institut de formation aux métiers de la gastronomie, de l’hôtellerie et du tourisme au Sénégal. En savoir plus

[2] ISM Ziguinchor est un établissement d’enseignement privé installé à Ziguinchor depuis 2005. En savoir plus 

[3] CRS est une organisation humanitaire internationale, dont les objectifs comprennent la fourniture d’aide d’urgence, la promotion du développement économique et social, ainsi que le plaidoyer pour la justice sociale En savoir plus.

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Digitization and professional integration: achieving digital integration in Côte d’Ivoire

The rise of digital technology has revolutionized the way we live, communicate, learn and, of course, work. This transformation is especially significant in Africa, where young people face both unique…

The rise of digital technology has revolutionized the way we live, communicate, learn and, of course, work. This transformation is especially significant in Africa, where young people face both unique challenges and countless opportunities in their quest to enter the job market.

To understand these dynamics and the potential implications of digital technology, we met with key players in the African education ecosystem in Côte d’Ivoire. A series of testimonials attesting to the growing importance of digital technology in education, and the need to support this movement.


” From helpful to necessary, from necessary to indispensable “

In just a few years, and even more since Covid came on the scene, digital has gone from helpful to necessary, and from necessary to indispensable. Professional integration, access to information, interaction, or simply adapting to contemporary demands mean that the adoption of a digital component in almost all training courses has become absolutely essential.  Today, digital technology enables young people to find their place in this fast-changing world, by facilitating rapid access to information and making learning easier.

Dia Jean-Fabrice – Head of Studies at the Institut Ivoirien of Technologie[1]


” Training the trainers ” 

The determination of the continent’s young people to embrace digital technology is obvious. But we still need to find a way to better equip them. Firstly, digital equipment and materials are still difficult to access for most people. Secondly, it is essential to invest in the training of trainers, to ensure that digital skills are properly passed on to young people, and to promote their successful integration into an increasingly digitalized world. Finally, we need to multiply the opportunities for young people to apply the skills they have acquired through internships or work-study schemes.

Jean-Delmas Ehui – CEO of ICT4Dev [2]


” A public policy focused on digital technology “

In addition to the difficulties involved in acquiring the necessary equipment and making training programs accessible, one of the barriers to digital development is the delay in implementing public policies in favor of digital, the lack of training for trainers, as well as the absence of incentives for companies to take on young people for practical placements.

Changes are needed to provide equitable access to digital resources and train players in education and industry: Fund the purchase of equipment and adequate infrastructure for institutions; encourage collaborations between educational institutions and digital sector companies to facilitate internships and practical learning opportunities; develop advantageous tax policies for companies investing in training young people and developing digital skills ; set up continuing education programs for teachers and professionals, to stay up to date with the latest technological and pedagogical advances.

Jocelyne Mireille Desquith – Assistant to the General Coordinator of the Government Social Program


” Sharing ideas and gaining visibility ” 

Digital is revolutionizing professional career management by offering a range of tools and resources that can be accessed at any time and from any location… as long as your area is covered by the internet network.

Beyond this aspect, digital offers young people a platform to make their voices heard and influence social change. Through social media, young people can share their opinions, experiences and demands with a global audience, helping them to broaden their impact and mobilize support for their causes, or echo the ideas they share.

– Achille Koukou – Managing Director of Tg Master University [3]


Digitalization offers immense potential for integrating young people into the African job market. However, concerted efforts are needed to overcome the obstacles and fully exploit these opportunities, in order to create a prosperous and inclusive future for all Africans. By implementing these measures, Africa can realize its full potential in the digital age, and provide its young people with the tools they need to succeed in an ever-changing world.


[1] Bilingual French-English institute of higher education dedicated to information and communication technologies, biotechnologies and business management. Read more 

[2] A startup specializing in the development and integration of digital and technological solutions for the agricultural sector. Read more

[3] School of excellence preparing for a double Bachelor’s degree (French and Ivorian) in Digital Management and Business Management. Read more


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Are universities in Africa excluding women?

Abidjan, early 60’s, the young Dicoh Mariam Konan starts studying chemistry at the Technical High School. She soon became the first female chemist in the Ivory Coast. Her portrait on…

Abidjan, early 60’s, the young Dicoh Mariam Konan starts studying chemistry at the Technical High School. She soon became the first female chemist in the Ivory Coast. Her portrait on the 25fcfa coins, still in circulation today, illustrates the impact of her career. It symbolizes a West Africa in progress, with educated women, while the period of independence is in full swing. 60 years later, this progress is slowing down, only 8% of Ivorian women continue secondary studies. A figure that applies to the rest of the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. How to explain this situation?

Over the years, sub-Saharan women have found many socio-economic barriers to pursuing higher education. These include gender stereotypes and women’s place in society, a clear preference for boys’ education over girls, and poverty. Indeed, the cost of higher education generally falls more heavily on poor households than on rich ones.

Yet, studies show that women play a key role in the continent’s economy. According to UNESCO, the impact of girls’ education on national economic growth is undeniable: a one percentage point increase in girls’ education increases the average gross domestic product (GDP) by 0.3 percentage points and increases the annual growth rate of GDP by 0.2 percentage points.

These figures raise many questions:

  • What mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure sustainable access to higher education for girls?
  • How can we influence deep-rooted societal practices?

A look at 3 mechanisms set up by I&P Education and Employment, aimed at increasing the number of young girls enrolled in higher education institutions to enable them to find their place in the job market.

Overcoming the socio-economic barrier

At ISM Ziguinchor, 11:00 a.m., Elise, originally from the Sédhiou region of Senegal, is taking a management course. After having interrupted her schooling due to pregnancy, she received a scholarship for excellence from ISM Ziguinchor. The first institution of higher education in the capital of Casamance, the establishment is a fine example of parity, in fact, girls represent 55% of the staff.

The policy is clear: “When awarding scholarships, 60% of girls and 40% of boys. For equal competence, the choice is made for girls,” says Georges Bernard Ndèye, director of the school. When asked why girls, the answer is simple: “The desire to get girls out of their vulnerable situation.

Higher education has an additional cost for families living in rural areas or without a university who have to go to capital or secondary cities. For families this means additional costs such as transportation, accommodation, and food[2]. In Ghana, for example, among the poorest households, sending a young person to a higher education institution increases their non-food expenses by 37%[3], an unthinkable sacrifice for many.

Sending a student to college increases a poor household’s non-food expenditures by 37 percent in Ghana

Students and their families analyze the benefits of higher education versus the income if the young person worked right after high school. For Priska Manga, a doctor at Cheikh Anta Diop University, the first obstacle for girls is the family. Social norms (role of men and women in the family, marriage, maternity, etc.) also play a role. A Wolof proverb says “Diangou Djiguène amoul ndieurigne”, a woman’s studies are of no use. Investing in the higher education of young girls can be seen as a waste of time and investment for the most vulnerable families.

Parental education is a critical factor in decision making. When the head of the household has completed secondary school, children are 10 times more likely to pursue higher education than a child in a household with a lower educational level of the head. Thus, convincing vulnerable families of the importance of higher education for girls is necessary. But it is essential to couple this societal change with financial support mechanisms. The granting of a scholarship may be a condition for a young girl from a disadvantaged background to pursue higher education.

Local and adapted infrastructures

In 2016, ISM Ziguinchor, wishing to respond to the accommodation problems of its students, decided to create a branch in Kolda, a city located 500km from Dakar. At the beginning of the school year, the administration realized that the majority of the students were married girls, whose families did not want them to move away for their studies. Families want to keep their daughters within a family circle, to protect them, but also to avoid any incidents that would damage their reputations (unwanted pregnancies, etc.). Bringing the institution closer to female students in rural areas increases their access to quality higher education when social norms prevent them from going to the city alone. For student mothers, the provision of childcare facilities at the place of learning helps them stay in school. To help female learners focus on their education, UNICEF has set up a daycare system as part of the “Girl Power” project in Côte d’Ivoire. The project aims to strengthen the entrepreneurial skills of young girls in the suburbs[4].

  • Dormitories: when school becomes home

Families also use tutoring systems. The student (girl or boy) is placed under the authority of a tutor, usually a family acquaintance. When necessary, or when there are difficulties within the host family, the girls drop out of school. Another solution is to make the school the place to live. The construction of dormitories in schools allows families to find a reliable solution to the issue of distance from the place of learning. This solution is being tested in ESSECT Poincaré schools. Located in the city of Bouaké in Côte d’Ivoire, the school welcomes students from all over the region – mainly agricultural – and beyond.

  • The importance of decent and adequate health facilities

In addition to having a decent toilet, it is also a question of equipment adapted to female physiology and available in the sanitary facilities.

Once they enter the school, students spend a large part of their day there. In addition to the availability of facilities, it is important that they feel comfortable. Both private and public, restrooms are places that must meet the requirements of safety, hygiene and privacy[5]. Since joining the IP2E program, Mr. Ndèye considers that decent sanitary facilities are fundamental for the development of young girls. During their menstruation, girls need to have access to toilets with water, soap and garbage garbage cans where they can dispose of their sanitary protection[6]. The availability of these pads is also necessary. In addition to having decent toilets, it is also a matter of having appropriate facilities available in these spaces. When interviewed, girls express an interest in separate toilets. They often emphasize the criteria of hygiene and the desire for privacy and safety.

  • Ensure the protection and well-being of students

Providing a safe learning environment goes beyond infrastructure. Gender-based and sexual violence affects girls more than boys. It is present during higher education, but goes unreported. It can include harassment between students, harassment between professors and students, and the exchange of good grades or job offers for sexual favors. Within the IP2E program, all supported companies develop a “student safeguarding” policy. This policy aims to prevent and respond to different types of incidents (sexual violence, physical safety, etc.) and to increase awareness of these issues among students and staff. Institutions are developing mechanisms for reporting and handling complaints. These mechanisms help build trust and improve the learning experience of young girls.

Inspiring Role Models

At the Institut Ivoirien de Technologie (IIT), along with business and computer courses, students receive leadership and personal development courses. Prisca and Grâce, two second-year students, explain that these courses help “to know oneself, to find one’s strengths to overcome one’s weaknesses. They often discuss the girls’ development with their male classmates. For Grace, one of the reasons for not pursuing higher education is the lack of self-confidence in girls. This lack of confidence stems from the “low esteem” that those around them place on the education of young women.

Gender stereotypes are also found in the orientation. The so-called promising fields, such as science, are often assigned to boys. Fabricia Devignes, a gender expert at UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning, explains that “the representation of women has an impact on girls’ education and learning outcomes.

In the companies of the I&P Education and Employment program, one institution makes the difference in the sciences: the USSD (Université des Sciences de la Santé de Dakar ). The Board of Directors of the USSD is chaired by a woman. In the university, 60% of the students are young women. When questioned, the female students explain that most of them come from families where their parents are already working in the health sector. To strengthen the resolve of these future doctors, USSD is also implementing a women’s leadership program. These are mentoring sessions during which women in the health sector will lead exchange sessions with the students. For Professor Ndir, it is by taking the example of female role models that there will be women leaders in the field.

Changing mindsets

In Tamale, northern Ghana, educational company Openlabs is bringing role models into the local community to change attitudes. To train girls in computer skills, Prince Charles, campus manager, and his team conduct outreach to girls as young as primary school, families, women’s groups, and religious leaders. To facilitate the exchange, some team members come from the targeted communities. Zeinab, a student from the Choggu community, spoke. She explains that it is possible to be a young woman, belong to the community and pursue higher education. Prince Charles went on to explain the financial benefits that the education of young women will have on these communities. He also explains the scholarships and discounts that Openlabs offers to young women.

In recent years, the historical gap in access to secondary education between girls and boys on the African continent has narrowed considerably and is now being reversed thanks to government efforts (in Senegal, in 2021: 52% of girls versus 48% of boys). This quasi-parity has highlighted a non-generic inequality, but rather a strong disparity according to the social and geographical origin of future students, and partly explains the low rate of continuation of higher education. Although few girls and boys pursue higher education in sub-Saharan Africa, girls from disadvantaged or rural backgrounds are at the bottom of the pyramid in terms of access to university.

Guaranteeing sustainable access to education for vulnerable girls requires providing mechanisms for financing higher education. For girls in rural areas, the multiplication of community-based higher education offers is also a lever to be implemented. The institutions must be safe places, where the well-being, safety and health of the students will be preserved. Finally, it is necessary to change mentalities, especially regarding the place of girls in scientific fields, in order to ensure that women fully participate in the development of the continent.

“The emancipation of women goes through education. If we manage to have more educated women, we will have women leaders everywhere.”

According to Dr. Priska Manga, “The emancipation of women is through education. If we can have more educated women, we will have women leaders everywhere. Disadvantaged girls need continued access to quality education in order to become self-sufficient and active in the development of their region[8]. Quality higher education develops and strengthens the skills needed to enter a highly competitive labor market, and enables them to claim a decent, adequate and equal income to improve their quality of life.


[2] Darvas, Peter, Shang Gao, Yijun Shen et Bilal Bawany. 2017. Enseignement supérieur et équité en Afrique subsaharienne : Élargir l’opportunité au-delà de l’élite. Directions du développement. Washington, DC : Banque mondiale. doi:10.1596/978-1-4648-1266-8.

[3]Darvas & all

[4] UNICEF. Projet Girl Power. 2020.

[5] Marion Simon-Rainaud. 2021. Mélanger les filles et les garçons a facilité l’accès aux toilettes », 7 mars 2021 ?

[6] GPE. 2018. Comment les toilettes peuvent-elles contribuer à promouvoir l’éducation.

[7] BBC News Africa. 2019. ‘Sex for geades’: Undercover in West African universities.

[8] C. Manse. 2020. Education des filles, émancipation des femmes.

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Youth employment: Africa should not train more, but train better

A couple of numbers are enough to understand how important the challenges related to the employability of young people on the African continent are. Currently, 15-24 year-olds represent 20% of…

A couple of numbers are enough to understand how important the challenges related to the employability of young people on the African continent are.

Currently, 15-24 year-olds represent 20% of the African population, but more than 40% of the unemployed [1]. By 2030, according to UNESCO projections, approximately 100 million young people will enter the African labor market due to the demographic structure of the continent.

Meanwhile, many companies and employers are looking for qualified [2] and therefore employable[3] individuals. There is a mismatch between available training programs and the specifics of the labor market, which is undergoing constant restructuring, in many sectors,.

Therefore, one could ask whether the great challenge today is not to train more, but to train better? Especially in the context of technical and vocational education and training, which obviously have a major role to play in promoting the integration of young people into the workplace.

In this article, we will explore three paths to improvement, based on the experience of an African SME in Côte d’Ivoire which specializes in professional training: the Institut de Management, de Gestion et d’Hôtellerie (IMGH), founded by Augustine Bro in 2009. Between December 2020 and July 2021, IMGH employees (managers, middle-managers, trainers) participated in capacity building training organized by GIZ Côte d’Ivoire.

Pathway 1: negotiate the shift to digitalization

Technical and vocational training courses are the first to have to adapt to globalization and the resulting technological changes, as they are oriented towards practice, learning, and the acquisition of work techniques. The transition to digital technology, which was supposed to be gradual, has been drastically accelerated by the Covid-19 crisis, which has had a major impact on the training sector and has redefined the demands of the labor market.

The prerequisites to successfully negotiate this shift are first of all material. In West Africa, household connectivity is not guaranteed in many rural or isolated areas. In addition to internet coverage issues, there are also the costs of the packages needed to consult the online tools necessary for learning[4]. Finally, the acquisition of computer equipment to access the content of online courses is an additional burden for students.

IMGH Focus:

To overcome these material difficulties, IMGH has put training capsules online which can be consulted via computer and mobile phone. This initiative solved both the impossibility of holding face-to-face classes at the height of the Covid crisis, and the connectivity of learners, insofar as most had at least access to the internet via their smartphones. Financial efforts will still be required to ensure that all students have access to online courses.

Since the start of the Covid crisis, IMGH has adopted a mixed approach, combining face-to-face and distance learning. This format offers many advantages: self-paced learning, customizable content, cost savings, etc. It is also a proven model that will be able to adapt to future crises, whether they are health, economic, or political.

Beyond concerns about equipment and connectivity, the greatest challenge of this transition to digital could be that of the competence of trainers and the transmission of knowledge (theoretical knowledge, but also and above all, know-how – techniques, professional gestures, practice, behaviour,  quality,  values).

Some of these elements, already difficult to transmit in a face-to-face environment, are even more so in distance or hybrid teaching and require much more involvement and pedagogy from the trainers. Hence the need to train trainers and any other person involved in the transmission process beforehand.

Pathway 2: Update trainers’ skills

The quality and relevance of any professional training is directly related to the professional competence of the trainers.

In the case of vocational training, most of the courses offered are taught by teaching teams from the trade. This situation responds to the logic of transmitting techniques specific to each profession, which would otherwise be difficult to share. Nevertheless, this empirical knowledge, acquired thanks to years of experience in the field, tends to become fixed in time. The risk being that once transposed onto the job market, the skills transmitted to students turn out to be obsolete. Consequently, it is essential to constantly renew the skills of trainers.

The training of managers and middle-managers is also an essential aspect to take into account. In the age of digital transformation. The success of a new development strategy depends on the ability of all employees to adopt it. They contribute fully to the internal transformation of the company and thus participate in the process of skills transfer.

IMGH Focus

The GIZ training, which the IMGH team attended, is based on the logic of alternating practice and theory, which allows the knowledge acquired to be updated and transferred directly to the workplace thanks to a point of view and experience from outside the organization.

According to Augustine Bro, founder of IMGH, this training has enabled her entire team to be more aware of the changes taking place in the professional market and to adapt their training offers in the long term.

Pathway 3: Capacity building through the co-development method

Finally, there can be a more collective approach to the new problems linked to the transformation of professions. Updating skills and knowledge to adapt to the demands of the job market is a necessity, and being in contact with other professionals would be an effective way to overcome one’s own shortcomings and acquire new knowledge.

A professional co-development group is a development approach for people who believe they can learn from each other to improve their practice. Individual and group reflection is facilitated through a structured consultation exercise that focuses on issues currently experienced by participant[5].

Thus the co-development method makes it possible to directly approach the practical side of a job, or of a task to be carried out, in a concerted manner. In contrast to a normative approach that only offers a single point of view, co-development, through the plurality of contributions, increases the development perspectives tenfold. This approach encourages everyone to consider a situation from a different and complementary angle, to think much deeper and to adapt new and more productive solutions.

IMGH Focus

“The adoption of the co-development method has brought new life to our organization. A new and very positive dynamic has taken hold and everyone is now voluntarily contributing to it, whether it be in terms of training, management, or governance. For example, those who are more comfortable with computers do not hesitate to give a helping hand to their colleagues in difficulty, and those who are struggling with other issues do not hesitate to ask for advice or help. So far, this method has been nothing but beneficial, both in terms of accounting and the work atmosphere” – Augustine Bro

In summary

The mismatch between existing training programs and the needs of an ever-changing labor market hinders the economic development of African countries. Opportunities exist and are being created, but the continent is still struggling to provide a skilled and employable workforce.

Vocational training actors, such as IMGH in Côte d’Ivoire, need to offer up-to-date and relevant content. We have mentioned here some of the practices implemented by IMGH since the Covid-19 crisis and the GIZ training (digitizing its training offer, strengthening the skills of trainers and teams…), but many other ideas can still be formulated to bring relevant and quality vocational training to African youth!



[2] Jean-Michel SEVERINO, RFI 20/01/19

[3] En se référant à la définition donnée par l’Organisation internationale du travail (OIT), l’employabilité est « l’aptitude de chacun à trouver et conserver un emploi, à progresser au travail et à s’adapter au changement tout au long de la vie professionnelle »


[5] Adrien PAYETTE, Claude CHAMPAGNE, PUQ, 1997 ( )

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Acceleration programs: a miracle solution for early-stage companies? (1/2)

Capitalizing on the boom of Africa’s entrepreneurial revolution, official development assistance (ODA) actors are increasingly taking on the challenge of supporting new generations of entrepreneurs willing to contribute to job…

Capitalizing on the boom of Africa’s entrepreneurial revolution, official development assistance (ODA) actors are increasingly taking on the challenge of supporting new generations of entrepreneurs willing to contribute to job creation and the emergence of more inclusive growth on the African continent. It is in this context that programs, initiatives and structures claiming to “accelerate” businesses have emerged in recent years. 

Note: Part 2 of this article, spotlighting an Ivorian company supported by an acceleration program, will be published next week.

Acceleration: A promising concept for African startups

When it comes to entrepreneurship, acceleration is defined as a service that provides mentoring, networking, and sometimes funding, to growing companies. However, the term is used to refer to a wide variety of very different programs. These include “accelerators” and start-up studios (such as GSMA Kenya and Flat6Labs Egypt), which are often physical or virtual structures that focus on digital economy (1) start-ups and are typically located in English-speaking countries, as well as investment funds that define themselves as booster programs (such as Catalyst Fund and Janngo) and/or that develop a range of acceleration program services to diversify their portfolios.

These programs are mainly funded by international organizations and private donors (e.g., West African Trade Investment, funded by USAID; Orange Corners, funded by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency).

In a globalized context where virtual support is widely available, international accelerators, in the US, Latin America, and Europe, are assisting more and more African startups. Before 2020, the renowned North American Y Combinator had only provided on-site support to 12 African startups—a figure that has tripled in the last two years.

An insufficient offering given the needs of entrepreneurs

This apparent plethora of acceleration programs gives the impression that the needs of African early-stage companies have now been met. This misleading impression is strengthened by the growing numbers of venture capital fundraising exclusively targeting IT startups in a limited number of African countries (Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt.

The number of start-ups across the continent that need assistance in the acceleration phase or upstream during the incubation phase is significant; whereas the range of seed financing (pre-seed/seed) is almost nonexistent if we look at the ratio of funds to the number of entrepreneurs. The financial and non-financial support granted must cover both general and specific needs, and therefore requires time, locally rooted expertise and a personalized calibration/analysis of a business’s needs. Accelerating a company’s growth does not mean accelerating the time required for its development.

Unfortunately, most programs funded by ODAs are not properly structured to overcome the gap between the time/support required for each entrepreneur and the number of targeted beneficiaries. Often these programs are unwilling or unable to assume the real cost of coaching each company and therefore take the risk of acting only superficially/provide only superficial assistance. Implementation resources are limited since there are inexhaustible reserves of new entrepreneurs to support whose scaling up problems  cannot be solved exclusively by a generalist approach.

The apparent profusion of acceleration programs is misleading: the number of startups that need support across the continent is considerable and the supply of seed funding is still largely insufficient.

Draw inspiration and deploy good practices

Since there is still a lot to do to guarantee the development of African entrepreneurship, the experience accumulated in recent years by acceleration program actors make it possible to identify a few “good practices” that could be deployed on a larger scale:

(1) The segmentation of programs is an added value

Every acceleration program must consider the fact that the term “start-up” includes companies that have nothing in common, either in terms of their business or location, and as such, require differentiated support. Segmentation adds significant value as it allows acceleration/support programs to more quickly identify issues and address challenges common to a particular business/company; a Sahelian SME in the agribusiness sector, for example, will have different support needs than a Nigerian e-commerce startup. Segmentation benefits also to programs that favor a virtual and grouped approach but which have difficulty obtaining the expected results with audiences that are too diverse.

Sectoral programs, such as those dedicated to agribusinesses (e.g., the PCESA financed by Danish cooperation in Burkina Faso) or initiatives focused on gender (Access Bank Nigeria’s W Initiative…) are more likely to identify the particular challenges of businesses and better understand regional equity issues (urban, rural, etc.). In the same way, results are achieved when the support continuum has been well thought out. Incubation in particular is not interchangeable with acceleration, as the needs of companies may differ from one phase to another (2).

(2) Greater impact is achieved by training local intermediary actors essential to the development of entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship support structures (SAE) in particular, independent experts and consultants be able to find their market beyond punctual aid from donors (3) . It is by contributing to the local skills development of African professionals that a greater number of companies will be able to scale up. In addition to Afric’innov, whose primary mission is in French-speaking African countries, a few financial players have recently attempted to fill this blind spot in their program offerings. Examples include the collaboration between Argidius and Village Capital, who have been working since 2020 to help structure SAEs in Uganda (Uganda Ecosystem Builders), and the work of mentoring and then financing SAEs carried out by Triple Jump and its experts in Sub-Saharan Africa.

(3) Acceleration programs that provide a complementary set of tools are more effective

First, appropriate seed funding tools, which specifically take into account a company’s lack of financial management skills and habits, can take the form of a repayable advance, as currently practiced by I&P Acceleration in the Sahel (IPAS). An advance lays the groundwork for a relationship with a financier and will probably make it possible to financially support more SMEs through the effect of recycling money (4).

Secondly, we can use skill-building tools that alternate between generalist support (to aim at disseminating entrepreneurial skills as widely as possible) and targeted support (venture building, technical assistance). The technical support provided to a company is just as determinant as the financial support. Y Combinator’s alumni agree that their growth is more due to technical support than to the initial financing, even if the financing gives more weight to the advice given.

Although the scarcity of seed funding is a significant obstacle, support, through skills building and technical assistance, is just as crucial as seed funding.

General skill building (group trainings, bootcamps and workshops, webinars, etc.) is often valued by funders, but technical assistance is largely absent from many acceleration programs. Technical assistance, i.e., contracting with local sector experts (legal, commercial, technological, managerial, etc.), is critical to improving the performance of companies during the absorption of seed financing and the development of traction. Technical assistance is an eminently relevant tool when it is implemented by an investor who wishes to strengthen the enterprise where he perceives risks that would not be detected by other types of actors. Most acceleration programs that include the deployment of technical assistance produce net results: this is the case, for example, with GreenTec Capital’s Boost Digital, which offers technical assistance in business and digital strategy and significantly increases the revenues of its beneficiary startups.

Some traps to avoid

Program funders still face many challenges to increasing the impact of their programs. It will inevitably be necessary to move away from the “all-startup” scheme to support “brick and mortar” SMEs as well and to rethink the establishment of support over time, taking into account that the phases of increasing skills are costly but necessary in order to meet demanding results indicators. It is also important to recognize that high failure rates at the outset are normal given the high initial risks involved, during the time when a company must deploy its offerings, prove itself and find its market. If the company survives, thanks in part to acceleration, then the risks, the need for liquidity and the need for competence (…) all decrease simultaneously.

We must also avoid the model of ephemeral competition and challenges, unless we are clear about their purpose (brand testing, visibility, etc.) and encourage a little more in-depth research work for “nuggets” and summoning patience and local relays in the process of selecting companies outside the circuits known to “serial pitchers”. The implementation of programs designed in Africa, involving African public and private stakeholders, favoring local financial risk-taking (e.g., business angels, African entrepreneurs, especially alumni of acceleration programs wishing to invest) is becoming essential.

In conclusion, we can hope that the enthusiasm of DFIs, international donors and African private actors for acceleration programs will continue and lead to the realization of ambitious aspirations: to strengthen young companies and create intermediary bridges/pathways to capital investment for those with clear development projects. Such a dynamic is inseparable from a broader reflection on the programs that exist further upstream from acceleration (ideation or incubation programs). The quality of our tools must be continually questioned in order to adapt them as closely as possible to the changing issues that growing African companies face.

Notes :

(1) An overview of the so-called gas pedal structures is available on the Afrikan Heroes and CrunchBase websites and in the Briter Bridges 2020 & 2021 reports

(2) Cf étude AFD-Roland Berger « Innovation en Afrique et dans les pays émergents »

(3) On this subject, see the studies and experiments currently being conducted in Cameroon, Congo-Brazzaville and Chad by actors such as R.M.D.A or the Agro-PME Foundation to implement the use of service vouchers, a useful tool for training and accreditation of consultants, etc.

(4) The repayable advance and its effects will be the subject of an article in this Acceleration file.

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Entrepreneurship for a better tomorrow in Guinea

Kouramoudou Magassouba presents the NGO Horizons d’Afrique, which he launched in 2017 to promote social entrepreneurship among Guinean youth.  Entrepreneurship is not – or should not be – limited to…

Kouramoudou Magassouba presents the NGO Horizons d’Afrique, which he launched in 2017 to promote social entrepreneurship among Guinean youth. 

Entrepreneurship is not – or should not be – limited to wealth creation alone. Starting an entrepreneurial project is above all about passion, creativity, strongly believing in a project. The NGO Horizons d’Afrique has been promoting this message since 2017 to Guinean students, so as to train a new generation of young entrepreneurs who are aware of social and environmental issues.

I launched The NGO a few years after my return to Guinea, in a context of latent economic and social crisis (high unemployment rate, especially among young people, illegal emigration). In 2010, I started teaching at a private university in Conakry while working at the Central Bank of the Republic of Guinea. Working directly with young scholars, confused about their futures and very much in need of advice, opened my eyes and pushed me to take action. Because if some government initiatives exist in this area, they are largely insufficient for the moment…

With former students and banking sector professionals, we launched Horizons of Africa to promote the learning of entrepreneurial skills. We do everything in our power to ensure that students are better prepared to enter the entrepreneurial world when they leave school. this cannot be learned in a day!


Promoting Entrepreneurial Spirit in Guinea

Horizons d’Afrique’s ambition is to build a community of at least 1,000 young entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs by 2025, capable of creating sustainable jobs.

We say “intrapreneurs” because we are aware that not everyone can or wants to be an entrepreneur. However, we believe anyone can develop entrepreneurial qualities, such as creativity, innovation, or organization. We can offer employees the tools and opportunities to create and innovate. In other words, we can train them to act as entrepreneurs within the company.


Launching impactful companies in Guinea

Our programs are open to all young people. They are designed to promote entrepreneurial qualities and values that we believe are fundamental for the society as a whole. Today there are about 6,000 new businesses created yearly in Guinea, but most of them are individual companies and do not create any jobs.

We advocate three key values in particular:

  • Empathy: we encourage students to put themselves in the shoes of others and imagine possible solutions to Guinea’s major social and environmental challenges.
  • Optimism: we promote students’ empowerment and “positive mental attitude”
  • Performance: to create positive impacts on the long-run, a company must be sustainable. The economic model of the company must therefore be viable and generate wealth.


Developing programs that address local needs

Horizons d’Afrique has developed a range of programs, depending on the target audiences (high schools, universities, technical schools…). They all provide support to young people who are starting (or are willing to start) an entrepreneurial project. We have built a strong network and we are now able to offer shared resources and skills. For example, we have set up a common technical team (accounting, communication) for the several startups supported by our programs.

With the technical assistance of Pierre ALZINGRE, founder of the Visionari Agency and Start’Up Lycée in France, we concluded in June the first edition of our program “Start’Up Lycée GouTina”, specifically dedicated to high school students. Ten public and private institutions took part in this competition. The students worked throughout the year on entrepreneurial initiatives related to the Sustainable Development Goals. Each working group (made up of ten high school students, including at least four girls per group) was accompanied by a team of three people: a teacher, an NGO staff member and a professional entrepreneur.



Throughout my academic and professional career, in Guinea, Morocco and France, I witnessed on many occasions the importance of educating and training young people, so that this new generation can do something constructive for their lives and the development of their country. With African Horizons, we are working as closely as possible with young people to make this possible. Sharing skills and experience is essential. Knowledge is only knowledge if it shared with other people!

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