Supporting the Informal Sector: Connecting entrepreneurs to expert volunteers


Informal education is a type of vocational and technical education that goes on outside of the formal learning environment of school, a college or a university, however, more can be said by way of providing a definition of the term. Informal education can be seen as “learning that goes on in daily life”, and/or “learning projects that we undertake for ourselves” (Smith, 2009).

Today, there are many young entrepreneurs with limited or no formal education. They get attached to extablished enterprises by way of apprenticeship in order to arquire skills. Others find solace in trial-and-error aproaches to business startup.

According to a UNESCO survey: of all regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rates of education exclusion. Over one-fifth of children between the ages of about 6 and 11 are out of school, followed by one-third of youth between the ages of about 12 and 14. According to UIS data, almost 60% of youth between the ages of about 15 and 17 are not in school.  (UNESCO, 2020)

With limited or hindered pathways back into the formal education and training systems, they face serious skills gaps that impact their income potential and lower their social mobility. This, in turn, negatively impacts the overall economies in which they operate.

These entrepreneurs constitute the informal sector. They operate on the margins of formal or mainstream activities. Their activities are normally outside the conventional scope of government regulation and assistance and are typically youthful and burdened with unhealthy or unsafe working conditions, lack of social protection arrangements and health facilities at work and little or no formal training.

Mentoring and volunteer support

There is the need to provide mentoring and volunteer services to these entrepreneurs to ensure that they begin on the right footing. Support can play a significant role in improving the skills of most of these people. Volunteer experts can offer tailored support with no additional fees. There is also the need to carefully select the volunteers to ensure they have the right skills, experience and attitude.

AAE offers support to entrepreneurs by connecting them to volunteer experts to offer a range of tailored support, such as translation, graphic design, website design, business planning, copy editing, proofreading and research.

Training Workshops

Aside online mentoring and volunteering services, local training workshops can play a pivotal support role for the not-so-tech-savvy entrepreneurs. On the 22 June 2015, 30 entrepreneurs were trained on “How to prepare your elevator pitch” at the Catholic Institute of Business and Technology in Accra, Ghana, as part of a Ye! Community workshop held byy AAE ,

Ye! Community, is a partner of AAE, and a global platform that supports young and aspiring entrepreneurs to build their businesses and enhance economic development in their countries and communities, and
Lisa Freiburg of MDF Training and Consultancy delivered the workshop and AAE staff, Cornelius Nartey and Betty-Ann Ananeh, facilitated.
Despite steady rain in the morning all participant made it and took part in an interesting, interactive and enjoyable experience.
The topic for the workshop was “How to prepare your elevator pitch”. An elevator pitch is a short, pre-prepared speech that explains what your enterprise does, clearly and succinctly. 

An elevator pitch is used to introduce yourself to new customers or potential investors in a short time. The name comes from the time it takes to ride in an elevator (lift) a few floors. Your pitch should be intriguing enough to initiate further conversation around your business, where you can then sell your audience on the idea. Preparing this pitch provides you with a powerful and effective tool that you can use anytime and anyplace.

Works Cited

Smith, M. K. (2009). Communities of Practice. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education.

UNESCO (2020) Education in Africa


AAE is a volunteer-run organisation coordinated by a network of national teams.

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