New African businesses need financial resources, better facilities and services, and government support to alleviate the challenges they face. These are some of the findings from a survey of 1 000 business owners throughout sub-Saharan Africa on entrepreneurship in their countries, conducted by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GeoPoll) and the US State Department on the eve of President Barack Obama’s visit to Kenya for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, GeoPoll.

GeoPoll surveyed 200 entrepreneurs per country in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa, asking them what resources are most needed to encourage entrepreneurship, what programs they have participated in to improve their businesses, and what are the biggest challenges facing new businesses.

Respondents were also asked about programs or activities they had participated in that helped improve their businesses, with many citing business seminars, ICT training, and trade-specific workshops they had attended. The findings will be used at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit to highlight common needs of entrepreneurs across Africa and around the world.

Key findings include:

* 44% of respondents participated in a program or activity in the past year aimed at improving their business. Of these open-ended responses, several key categories were identified, including business development and management training or courses, agricultural activities, entrepreneurship programs, and financial training.

* When asked what would most help increase the number of entrepreneurs in their country, responses were quite divided. While 36% said “more financial resources”, 24% said “better facilities/services” and 23% replied “government support”.

* One question asked specifically about increasing youth and women entrepreneurship, which is the focus of GES’ opening day. Funding was cited as the resource most needed to help youth and women entrepreneurs at 41%, followed by government support (22%), access to market information (18%) and access to high-skilled workers (16%).

* There is a strong desire for more training resources, with training programs and entrepreneurship courses in school being the most popular responses to a question on how government could help people start businesses.

* Social media was found to be the most popular online tool for supporting business growth.

“As policymakers explore smart and sophisticated steps to develop healthy entrepreneurial ecosystems across the African continent, the voice of the entrepreneur must remain in the foreground,” says Jonathan Ortmans, president of the Global Entrepreneurship Network. “Being able to hear directly from the entrepreneurs helps guide our conversations at the Summit and beyond.”