In June 2021, DOT convened young entrepreneurs from the DOT network in the first co-design session to collaboratively shape and design the purpose and vision for the global Impact Makers Advisory Board (IMAB). The session revealed that the barriers associated with funding early-stage entrepreneurs are often a result of a lack of understanding between funders and impact makers.
The funding gap – characterized by the lack of trust between funders and fundees and the tendency of funders to overlook new and young entrepreneurs, and exclusionary criteria – creates an ongoing struggle for young entrepreneurs to access the funding and resources to sustain their business.
IMAB is inspired by the goal of mutual trust-building and knowledge sharing. It is made up of philanthropists, funders, impact investors, and young social entrepreneurs. It aims to convene stakeholders to support and uplift youth-led enterprises in Africa to incubate quickly towards impact and scale.
On March 17th, 2022, Digital Opportunity Trust, young philanthropists, funders, impact investors and social entrepreneurs gathered for an interactive session to celebrate the launch of the Impact Maker’s Advisory Board and the co-design report.
The IMAB Launch Event kicked off with thematic breakout rooms hosted by youth with early-stage ventures in tech, agriculture, climate, gender, health, and marginalized and displaced communities.
Representatives from East Africa Philanthropy Network, Mercy Corps Ventures, Women First Fund, Firstport Group Catalyst Fund, the Segal Family Foundation and Village Capital shared how they are taking action to address the challenges raised by young entrepreneurs.
Youth shared their personal experiences of the funding gap, including the ever-shifting goal post and funding criteria that often exclude start-ups and youth or women-led ventures. Youth expressed their desire for funders to look at the long-term community-level impact, provide more feedback, fund more ventures at lower seed levels, and adapt to unexpected costs in underserved communities.
“Youth have experience, passion & first-hand knowledge of the needs and challenges of their communities; hence they are best positioned to develop locally relevant solutions. Trust that when youth have access to capital, they will invest it back into their communities.” Violette Uwamutara, DOT’s Regional Advisor, Africa & Country Director Rwanda
The event was the first of many dialogues that will bring together funders and fundees to bridge the funding gap. If you are interested in joining our journey to shift funding models and bridge the gap between funders and fundees in the impact ecosystem, get in touch with Vickie Wambura, Co-Chair, firstname.lastname@example.org, to learn more and see how you can be involved.
About Digital Opportunity Trust
Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) is an international non-profit organization headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, with locally-managed offices in Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Rwanda, and Tanzania and working with strategic partners in Ghana, Uganda, Malawi and Zambia. Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) is a youth-led movement that mobilizes and inspires all underserved and disadvantaged young people with digital literacy, 21st-century skills and the self-confidence that will enable them to thrive in an inclusive digital economy. For more information, please visit www.dotrust.org.
About Impact Makers Advisory Board
IMAB is made up of philanthropists, impact investors and young social entrepreneurs whose goal is to convene stakeholders to support and uplift youth-led enterprises in Africa to incubate quickly towards impact and scale. To view the IMAB Co-Design and Launch Report, visit www.dotrust.org/IMAB.