November 13, 2020

Understanding the East African Ecosystem: Tools Every Innovator Should Know About

Last month, the East Africa Chapter of the Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) hosted a webinar to showcase ecosystem mapping tools that are being developed and launched throughout the next year. The webinar offered a space for five organizations that have conducted mapping studies to speak about the tools they are developing and current findings.

For innovation organizations interested in identifying funding opportunities, resources, mentors and more, here are some tools to look out for:

1.      Child & Youth Finance International’s Ye!

An online platform for young entrepreneurs to connect, collaborate and support each other.

Ye! was created to help young entrepreneurs between the ages of 16-30 years connect with peers, receive knowledge and coaching from experts, and locate funding. By providing entrepreneurs with the tools that they need to grow their organizations and succeed, Ye! hopes to lower youth unemployment globally. After creating an account on the Ye! website, innovators can read through country guides to learn about country-specific laws, taxes, startup hubs and more.

Over the next year, Ye! will also be publishing a policy mapping landscape to study entrepreneurship education, the ease of doing business in certain countries, and access to finance and networks. For more information or to get involved, please contact Lubna Shaban at

2.      Anza

An online interactive map of Tanzania’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and a follow-up report.

Anza is a business accelerator in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania that provides startup support, a working space, and a one-year accelerator program, Anza 360°,to social businesses within the country. Anza is currently researching the innovation ecosystem in Tanzania, in collaboration with Diligent Consulting and the Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship Development, to design an online interactive map for innovators to find non-governmental organizations, accelerators, and startup resources. The project is sponsored by the UKAid-funded Human Development Innovation Fund.

The online map is estimated to be published this November. The report, to be published within the next few months, will include information on patterns, gaps, and opportunities in the Tanzanian entrepreneurial ecosystem. For more information or to get involved, please contact Camilla Shearman at

3.      United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

An African youth and women entrepreneur online portal.

In 2013, the UNDP launched the African Women and Youth Finance Digital Directory to provide and disseminate information on funding sources and technical assistance programs to support women and youth-run enterprises in Africa. To expand upon their work in this field, the UNDP is creating a continental portal to bring together all information, networking, mentorship, and funding resources for entrepreneurs.

The hope is for this online portal to be accessible by mobile application and launched by the end of March 2017. For more information or to get involved, please contact Priscilla Chimwele at

4.      The Practitioner Hub for Inclusive Business

An online database of organizations and publications that support the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and inclusive business.

The Practitioner Hub has partnered with Connect to Grow and the Asian Development Bank to create SearchInclusiveBusiness, a database of 270 organizations that offer financial and/or technical support to SMEs in developing countries. The Practitioner Hub also offers a database of more than 1400 publications to provide entrepreneurs with more information on impact investors, partnership brokers, and other finance topics in low income and/or emerging markets.

Both databases are available right now and are being updated and expanded regularly. For more information or to get involved, please contact Lara Sinha at

5.      British Council

A mapping of social enterprise sectors and activities in East Africa.

The British Council, in collaboration with the European Union, has recently launched a two-year pilot project called Support for Social Enterprises in East Africa. The project will promote and strengthen an evidence-based social enterprise approach in Kenya, Ethiopia, and the wider East Africa region. The British Council hopes to map new quantitative and qualitative data about social enterprise activities to better understand the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The project will study the location, size, sector, and objectives of social enterprises in the region, in addition to activities of support organizations, government, research bodies, and other stakeholders.

The British Council is in the midst of outreach and data collection efforts, but will be writing a peer-reviewed analysis report to summarize their findings. It is estimated that this report will be published within the next year. For more information or to get involved, please contact Wubet Girma at

Photo provided by Jacaranda Health