Johannesburg, South Africa (7 February 2014) 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.
The agreement will see EY providing a wide range of services to the Foundation, including industry specialists to act as mentors, monitoring and evaluation systems to improve efficiency and general structuring, governance and operational advice. The breadth and depth of EY’s support will further boost the chances of entrepreneurs turning their business ideas into reality.
The announcement is born out of a shared belief that SMEs will act as a fundamental channel for increasing employment and building economic growth in Africa.
It 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”.
Ajen Sita, CEO for EY, Africa, said: “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.”
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 and Mara Ad-Venture Fund – a micro venture capital vehicle.
Ashish J Thakkar, Founder of Mara Group and Mara Foundation, said: “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.”
The sponsorship of Mara Foundation will allow EY to connect with entrepreneurs across Africa and further facilitate the opportunity to offer them concerted support in their growth.
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Following on from EY’s successful integration in 2008 of 87 countries into one area from across Europe, Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), the firm has launched its Africa Business Center™ (ABC), which aims to enhance the effective and efficient links between its geographic reach and areas of expertise. The firm enjoys representation in 33 countries across Africa.
About Mara Foundation
Mara Foundation is part of Mara Group, a pan-African multi-sector business with extensive operating experience in both African and international markets.
Established in 2009, Mara Foundation focuses on fostering entrepreneurialism in Africa through a myriad of programmes designed to address the complete life-cycle of an entrepreneur’s business idea. The Foundation works to create sustainable economic and business development opportunities for young entrepreneurs via Mara Women, Mara Mentor, Mara Launchpad and the Mara Ad-Venture Capital Fund. Mara Mentor’s online platform and mobile app have been developed by Mara Online – Mara’s online and mobile technology business.
For more information, visit www.mara-foundation.org.