The WE-RISE! Initiative

The AICS (Italian Agency for Development Cooperation) WE-RISE! Initiative intends to improve the access of women, youth and people living in vulnerable situations to a more inclusive market system in Port Sudan and Kassala states.

The project, jointly implemented by AICS and UN Women, is part of the special allocation 2019-2020 channelled under the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for stability and addressing root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa (EUTF) to support the democratic transition in Sudan. The Target States of WE-RISE! are Kassala, Gedaref and Red Sea State.

Background of the project

The World Bank’s Doing Business reports ranked Sudan at the bottom of the listed countries (171 out of 190) and entrepreneurial activities are low compared to other countries in the region. Even so, the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM 2018), indicates that 53.6% of the population consider it is easy to start a new business in Sudan, and 79.4% consider that starting a new business is a desirable career choice.

The 2018 GEM results of Sudan’s adult population survey showed a relatively high level of involvement in entrepreneurial activities. At the time of the survey, 69.1% of the interviewed manifested the intention to start up a new business activity in the next three years, 10.3% were starting up a new business not older than three months, and 12.6% were consolidating a business older than three months but established less than 42 months ago. As of July 2018, 22.1% of Sudan’s adult population was involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity.
Among the main constraints mentioned for business discontinuation of entrepreneurial firms, the limitation of financial resources represents the main reason that forces entrepreneurs to seize opportunities, start new businesses and manage them successfully. On the other side, liquidity constraints, lack of collateral and track records prevent entrepreneurs from accessing formal financial services. This combination contributes to the bad results for Sudan in the global ranking of the World Bank Doing Business, which classifies the country at 176 (out of 190) for the category of “getting a credit”.

Historically, many entrepreneurs were involved at the micro-level of home-based production (especially among women) and micro enterprises. It has been well observed that many micro and small enterprises (MSEs) have been operated driven by necessity. The results highlight a gender disparity, where men appear to be more involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity than women: the percentage of male nascent entrepreneurs is 12.2% compared to 9.8% of female nascent entrepreneurs.

In addition to being mainly made up of small and medium-sized enterprises, the Sudanese business landscape is characterised by fairly high percentages of business discontinuation (17.3%) and a low rate of established businesses (10.2%). While these data are balanced by a very high proportion of recently created businesses (22.9%) that could reflect a good propensity toward innovation and renovation, it is more likely that high volatility depends on the low-quality and insufficient modernisation of the businesses that, once established, are unable to compete and survive in the market for long.

The data mentioned above furthermore emphasize the need for tailored interventions aiming at encouraging self-employment, fostering job opportunities and improving the quality and competitiveness of the business sector in Sudan.

More in detail, context data highlight how starting up new businesses is still a desirable choice for many Sudanese, even if they are driven by necessity and lack of other job opportunities. At the same time, the local entrepreneurial fabric consists of the most of MSMEs that struggle to consolidate their activities.

Low access to financial and non-financial services furtherly limits the possibility for start-ups and MSMEs to set up and survive in a general economic environment that already hinders their operational capability and potential to grow and expand.

Nevertheless, another limit to business continuation is constituted by the low performances of the established business which does not make them competitive in the market and therefore affects their chances of consolidation and survival.

Based on these premises and in the light of WE-RISE! Initiative aims and objectives MDF and Savannah Innovation Labs have been asked to support already established MSMEs and start-ups in Kassala states through a business development project. The target groups for this project will be women, youth and women with vulnerabilities.

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Meet The Ventures

150 ventures will be selected to participate in the WE-RISE! Initiative. When the time comes, this is where you will be able to find everything about who they are, what they do, and what they want to achieve!