Our Focus

Sustainable Economic Growth


Bridging gaps in the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem in Guinea-Bissau 

The 2020-2023 National Development Strategy for Guinea-Bissau highlights private sector development as a main priority to be enhanced through the improvement of an enabling business climate. However, the country ranks 174 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business index. Similarly, the 2021 UNDP data driven study “Building forward better for businesses in Guinea-Bissau” identifies the key challenges imbedding private sector development to be political instability and institutional fragility; poor and inadequate infrastructure; limited access to business skills and finance; an outdated regulatory environment, with limited opportunities to women’s and youth labour market participation; and a lack of access to diversified economic opportunities. 

UNDP Guinea-Bissau wants to capitalize on the inherent entrepreneurial and creative spirit, with the high proportion of economically active women, youth, and the vibrant networks to build and support start-ups and capacities that will have multiplier effects in a country with a transboundary linkage to the sub/regional markets. The work in this field is based on the approach of creating and supporting value-added chains by integrating support service providers at each stage of the production chain into a coherent interconnected cluster. Entrepreneurs and innovators are the value chain at the core of the ecosystem, which includes all relevant actors as integral building blocks to form a coherent, efficient, and sustainable network that fosters innovations and entrepreneurship. The ecosystem comprises a set of key areas: culture and creativity, policies and leadership, adequate funding availability, quality of human capital, entrepreneurship-based product markets and a wide range of institutional assistance, as well as infrastructure. 

At the strategic level, UNDP interventions respond to the priorities in the 2030 and 2063 Agendas including the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), to enhance negotiation capacity for trade and finance, investments in shared technology, infrastructure and to foster regional integration toward creating transformative changes. At national level, UNDP is developing a National Financial Inclusion Strategy in collaboration with UNCDF, the Central Bank and the government to increase access to financial services.  

UNDP’s vision is to provide support to transform SIDS’ blue economies towards prosperity through an integrated approach rooted in sustainable finance. In Guinea-Bissau this support will include the definition of a National Blue Economy Strategy and Investment Plan and digital solutions to enhance entrepreneurship and ecosystem development, strengthening current economic revenues for the most vulnerable population and tapping into new entry points for increased economic opportunities, particularly for women and youth. The project “Limiting the Impact of COVID-19. A 3x6 Approach” is already working in that direction, promoting income-generating activities and sustainable livelihoods in a neighbourhood heavily affected by the pandemic in the capital city Bissau, to support faster recovery through the diversification of livelihoods opportunities, especially in the blue economy sector. Another intervention in the Biombo region aims to activate a sustainable path for women with disabilities to create income-generating activities linked to the blue economy which also contribute to their financial inclusion. 

Evidence-based research 

Ensuring that the national effort is evidence-based, data driven and informed by knowledge of “what works”, establishing a collaborative approach to research needs and fulfilment, is a key objective. UNDP Guinea-Bissau will support the government with increased data gathering, management to support integrated planning for inclusive and sustainable growth, including evidence-based analysis for national plans which uses innovative methodologies to identify good practices that can be replicated or scaled-up as appropriate. Initial research to set the parameters for action will include a major study to be conducted by the Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures at the University of Denver together with local partners and stakeholders, as well as the partnership with Innovation for Poverty Action (IPA) to setup evidence labs and capacity transfer plans in the relevant national institutions.  

Current priorities – 2022 
  1. Enhancing the start-up and innovation ecosystem 

  2. Creating an enabling environment for the private sector and supporting it directly 

  3. Increasing access to financial services 

  4. Green growth, blue economy, and economic diversification 

  5. Data, statistical capacity and evidence-based research for SDG mainstreaming and acceleration 


Photo: UNDP Guinea-Bissau/2021