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Current Reality

According to World Bank, Africa poised for first recession in 25 years due to the covid-19 pandemic. A rapidly changing economy and inequality were persistent issues before this unprecedented economic crisis and world-wide pandemic. We know communities are hurting and struggling due to this pandemic. What was lacking before is now amplified tenfold and the need for action is blindingly present. With an uncertain future, we must push forward and start toward recovery and an equal playing field.

To create new jobs, build resilient local economies, and include more people in the economy, we must reverse unfair policy and trends in communities nationwide. If we do not act quickly and intelligently for entrepreneurs in the coming months or years, our economy–if it ever does recover–will be more exclusive and truly feel like a winner-take-all scenario.

While it’s been heartening to see government and industry step up during this pandemic to infuse entrepreneurship and small businesses with needed capital, there’s another group of people who have been working, often unnoticed and unheralded, behind the scenes. To support and catalyze entrepreneurs for years — startup ecosystem builders or just ecosystem builders. And, with the exponential challenges brought about by pandemic, entrepreneurs and communities will need ecosystem builders now more than ever.


“Startups are the key vehicle by which regions and their citizens can take advantage of technological change, and startups depend on strong ecosystems… Those places that fail to boldly and immediately invest in startup ecosystems, and thus fail to produce startups, will experience economic stagnation.” —Startup Genome

Recognizing the need for a better way to grow dynamic, inclusive economies in communities, a movement of sorts has begun, as a growing number of people turn to entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem building as an economic development focus. But, if the work of ecosystem building is to grow, evolve, and expand, the emerging discipline of ecosystem building needs to organize into a recognized field.

Setup A Startup a leading standard bearer in this nascent movement is launching the inaugural Africa Startup Ecosystem Builders Summit & Awards (ASEB-Summit), an annual conference with the mission to “advance ecosystem building as a new approach to economic development to help more people and communities achieve economic independence through entrepreneurial success.”

The summit will raise awareness and convene hundreds of passionate and committed community builders, economic developers, and business development professionals across Africa in an ambitious attempt to professionalize and advance the emerging field of entrepreneurial and startup ecosystem building.

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