Young entrepreneurs

Financial support and business coaching for young entrepreneurs

Jeunes entrepreneurs Sénégal
© Philippe Lissac / Godong

Supporting young entrepreneurs in launching and growing a business is a strategic priority for ADA. ADA collaborates with a multitude of actors to provide young entrepreneurs with flexible, tailored financing as well as business skills.

Fostering youth entrepreneurship in developing countries is key for reducing unemployment and for maximising the contribution of young people to the economy. However, they face significant challenges in developing countries as few financial service providers understand and adequately serve young business owners. 

Young entrepreneurs are seen as high-risk clients because of their limited credit history, high mobility and lack of assets to offer as collateral. They therefore often depend on their savings or money from friends and family to start and grow their businesses. 

Financing alone is not enough

Another challenge is a general lack of business skills as there is too little business development support and professional training in most countries. Nevertheless, financial and accounting skills are essential for growing a business and for obtaining and managing a bank loan. Young people also need appropriate training to take advantage of new opportunities in renewable energy, agroecology, and the circular economy. 

ADA has therefore extended its range of partnerships. In addition to collaborating with financial institutions, ADA works with support structures for entrepreneurs such as incubators and accelerators. All projects aim to provide young people with business management support, access to tailored financial services as well as market access. 

All parties gain from this setup; it makes the financial institution more willing to grant loans as they are reassured that the entrepreneur is well supported and supervised. The incubators on the other hand are able to offer more holistic services to entrepreneurs thanks to partnerships with the financial institutions. This not only makes their service more attractive but also more durable.

Creating a favourable business environment in Senegal

With the support of the Luxembourgish development agency LuxDev, ADA is creating a favourable environment for young entrepreneurs wishing to set up a micro-business in northern and central Senegal by building and coordinating a network of technical and entrepreneurial support providers in collaboration with the local microfinance institution U-IMCEC (Union Mutualiste d’Epargne et de Crédit). 

Jeunes entrepreneurs Sénégal
© Philippe Lissac / Godong

This project aims to develop tailored financial services for young people with flexible conditions and to provide training and coaching before and after the loan disbursement. ADA also helped the incubator Jokkolabs to develop a certified training on agroecological horticulture and food processing which enabled 142 entrepreneurs to fine-tune their business plans and to enter the market in 2022.

In late 2022, the programme was enriched with post-financing support for young entrepreneurs, which enabled better monitoring and improvements. As a result, the programme is now ready to be upscaled and has already been extended to northern Senegal.

Helping businesses grow with YES-FI

While the project in Senegal aims to help young entrepreneurs launch their business, ADA also seeks to support existing companies who need to finance their next growth phase. The Young Entrepreneurs Sustainable Financing Initiative (YES FI) supports growing entrepreneurs with financing (both working capital and in-vestments) between EUR 5 000 and EUR 50 000 in various African and Latin American countries. This is one of the least covered ranges of funding needs in the “missing middle”, which refers to funding requests that are too large for MFIs and too small to attract the attention of commercial banks and impact investors.

As long as the entrepreneurs have an outstanding loan, they also have access to support from partnering incubators. The costs for this support are partly covered by the loan repayments. The programme finances entrepreneurs to create a financing history with local financial institutions, which can then take over the subsequent financing rounds at a lower risk and without ADA’s support.

Another key element of YES-FI is that debt repayments are based on the entrepreneur’s monthly turnover instead of repaying fixed amounts. ADA chose this innovative approach to reduce the risk of non-repayment of loans as the entrepreneurs are granted more flexibility. The incubators use financial information from the entrepreneurs to determine the repayment amounts every month. 

The YES-FI programme is supported by Generali Investments Luxembourg.


Key figures 2022 

Access to and use of financial services



organisations offer specific financial services for young entrepreneurs


young entrepreneurs were financed with tailored financing mechanisms


entrepreneurs were financed through YES-FI and created or maintained 360 jobs financing mechanisms


young people benefited from a savings product


Access to and use of capacity-building services


organisations offer specific financial services for young entrepreneurs


young people benefited from business support programmes via incubators and/or an accounting service by young accountants via a digital platform


Contribution to the SDGs

2.3 — Increase the agricultural productivity and income of small-scale food producers, including access to financial services

4.4 — Strengthen necessary skills for employment and entrepreneurship

8.10 —  Strengthen the capacity of domestic financial institutions

9.3 — Access of small-scale enterprises to financial services and their integration into value chains


ADA provides different types of young entrepreneurs with tailored financing mechanisms to address funding gaps and with business skills to increase their social, environmental and economic impact.


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