Africa’s Getting Younger — 3 Reasons Why That’s Exciting for Entrepreneurs

Young Africans are about to become a major topic of conversation. 

Why? 

Because this demographic is undergoing a massive boom. 💥

Africa is the Benjamin Button of population demographics. Source: Our World In Data

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Here are some of the most impressive stats:

  • Nearly 60% of Africans are under the age of 25, compared to 27% of Europeans.

  • The median age across Africa is 18, compared to 35 in North America.

  • By 2050, sub-Saharan Africans will make up a third of all young people globally.

This exploding group represents both potential customers and affordable, untapped talent. Here’s how entrepreneurs can take advantage of the African fountain of youth.

Hey, Young Spender

The most obvious opportunity is sales of youth-focused products and services.

Not only is Africa’s youth growing, but households are consuming and spending more every year.

Internet access is increasing, urbanization is happening fast, and lots of consumers are moving from informal retail (like local markets) to shopping malls, creating all kinds of new spending patterns.

This almost limitless potential goldmine includes:

💍 Nigeria’s enormous wedding industry

👟 South Africa’s growing sneaker market

📈 A soaring demand for e-commerce 

South African rapper and sneakerhead YoungstaCPT is shown in a sneaker store in the music video for his song “Takkies” – slang for sneakers. Source: YouTube

Africa’s Got talent

By 2040, Africa will need 2m new jobs per month to keep up with population growth.

There are tons of reasons why global businesses might want to capitalize on that trend. For starters, Europe’s aging population could face a labor shortage.

Trendster George Burgess is the founder of Modern Day Talent, a startup that sources and facilitates remote talent in South Africa for European companies.

He says that South African talent:

👉 Costs 50% less than UK talent or two thirds of European talent

👉 Is abundant, high quality, and English-speaking.

Plus, like a number of African countries, South Africa falls in a European time zone.

Agencies like George’s can make the remote hiring process easier by dealing with tricky, unfamiliar red tape in African countries.

Here are three areas of opportunity.

  1. Go niche. You could build an agency that pairs French or Arabic-speaking Africans with employers in wealthier nations or focus on a particular in-demand skill like occupational therapy.

  2. Employee support. Help meet the needs of remote professionals with co-working spaces, laptop financing, or specialized employee benefits solutions.

  3. Build skills. Demand for tertiary education is booming but African universities can’t keep up. Meanwhile, online learning is expected to grow at a rate of 12% through 2027 in the region.

    You could set up a coding school, facilitate remote apprenticeships or start an online language school to equip Africans with the skills they need to enter the local, US or European workforce.

Startup continent

Africans are entrepreneurial and active users of tech. Pre-pandemic, 22% of working-age people were entrepreneurs (compared to 16% in the US). And tech startup funding is growing at 6x the global average.

It’s a good time to be an African tech startup. Source: Disrupt Africa

With a limited number of jobs available and the youth population growing, a new generation of entrepreneurs is likely on the horizon.

You could look at mentorship programs like One Day, events like Latitude59 or the Africa Entrepreneur Conference, communities like Trends, or SaaS tools tailored for African startups.

Of course, Africa is vast and varied so no one opportunity will apply everywhere.

You may never have given a thought to the young folks in Rabat, Abidjan, and Gqeberha, nevermind doing business in Africa. But as young Africans make up more of the global population, the world will have to sit up and take notice.

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