The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has launched an initiative to boost job creation through involving low-income people in Africa in business development programmes as customers, employees, producers or entrepreneurs.
The African Facility for Inclusive Markets (AFIM), launched recently in the South African city of Cape Town, is expected to benefit thousands of small and medium scale enterprises in agriculture, industry and the distribution sector targeting women and young people in rural areas.
"A new private sector is emerging in Africa with great potential for creating new jobs, income opportunities and products and services for all," said the UNDP Special Representative for AFIM and UN Resident Coordinator for Kenya, Aeneas Chuma, while launching the initiative at the World Economic Forum for Africa 2011.
Through its offices in Johannesburg, Dakar and Nairobi, AFIM will focus on markets, products or services with the largest potential for job and income creation benefiting people on low incomes. Those sectors include agriculture, food, tourism, mining and retail.
About 73 per cent of Sub-Saharan African's population - almost 560 million people - live on less than $2 a day, according to World Bank figures.
The initiative will build on knowledge sharing and best practices from regional and national private sector initiatives in more than 12 African countries, including Angola, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya and Malawi.
As a partnership-based initiative, it will bring together the private sector and regional and international development agencies into an alliance for pro-poor markets focused on environmental sustainability and post-conflict recovery.
AFIM's work will be modelled on similar initiatives, such as the Business Call to Action, a global partnership comprising UNDP and seven other international and donor organisations that challenges businesses to strive for commercial success while contributing to poverty reduction.
"The African Facility for Inclusive Markets is a great opportunity to broker partnerships and dialogues between businesses, governments, regional organisations and other development partners for sustainable and pro-poor markets," said Mr. Chuma.