By Toghi Confidence Precious
The award winning Novelist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her TED Talk about “The danger of a single story,” said that although Africa is a continent full of catastrophes, there are other stories which are not negative such as the incredible resilience of the African people, who despite the government shortcomings and failed infrastructure, they still thrive.
In today’s contemporary world where everything seems to be competitive and dire, young Africans must brace up to take responsibilities for themselves by venturing and taking advantage of opportunities to transform their lives and those around them. With the world moving from the conventional norms to disruptions in technology, agriculture, E-Commerce, Creative designs, Projects and products management, young people should among other things veer towards business enterprise.
Although, the entrepreneurs’ journey come with all forms of difficulties and challenges, such as little or no access to finance and business mentors, poor infrastructure to support business growth and so on, these are not enough grounds for discouragement or complacency. Success ladders are very often slippery and not all rosy. It takes commitment, vigour, passion and determination to climb the stairs of success.
Young people in Africa have in times past proven that they are more than able to make a difference in the world using their God given talents to unravel the mysteries behind the littered natural gifts of nature.
Some of these young Africans whose names quickly come to mind are the Liberian FOMBA TRAWALLY, who during the civil war in 1989 fled to the Gambia as a refugee and returned to Liberia in 1991 trading rubber slippers (flip flop). By 2010, Trawally had crossed the $1 million mark from his business which he started with a $200 life savings to becoming the first paper and toiletries manufacturing company in Liberia.
So is BETHLEHEM TILAHUN ALEMU, who grew up in the poor village of Zenabwork in the suburbs of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her business which is one of the most popular and fastest growing eco-friendly footwear brands in the world started with capital raised from family and friends in 2004. My friend, the founder of By’nada Foods started his business with a very minimal capital, and with no workforce. Faced with such depressing situations at the initial stage of his business, he sparked the youthful strength, passion, commitment, energy and resilience of an African and delivered on his targets and set goals. With integrity of purpose as his hallmark, he opted in to producing quality, healthy and enriching oil through his mill which was of the highest international standards possible within his reach.
The undaunting Tanzanian Patrick Ngowi, who at age 19 took a loan from his mother and her friend to sponsor his trip to China, today owns the most successful solar energy company in East Africa where he’s giving back to his community by providing access to clean and sustainable renewable energy. Others are the successful Aliko Dangote who started a business with a loan from his grandfather and paid back in six months, Anna Phosa the South African celebrity pig farmer, Kenyan EcoPost Ruho Lorna, Zimbabwean Econet Global CEO Strive Masiyiwa, Ashish Thakkar, the CEO of Mara Phones which is the pioneer company that manufactures high quality mobile phones in Africa; the business tycoon, Mo Ibrahim, the South African Desmond Mabuza, who at 28 years old operated the first fine dining restaurant in South Africa and by 2014, opened a signatire restaurant in Abuja Nigeria and continues to expand the brand across Africa, and a host of other Africans.
The stories of these African entrepreneurs are to challenge every other young African that there’s success littered everywhere, just if you can excavate the opportunities. Every forward-thinking young African must irrespective of outlay of reasons confronting him make the decision to make a difference in their world.
According to the United Nations reports, by 2030, there will be 375 million young Africans in the job market which is about 1 in every 3 young people globally. The impact of this is that, there will be a significant gap between the number of young people seeking work and the limited available employment opportunities. To this end, young Africans muct as a matter of necessity take charge of their own destinies. Don’t ever take your gifts for granted.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation GateKeepers 2018 report predicted that by 2050, 86% of the world’s extremely poor people will live in sub Saharan Africa. This is indeed a call to action for the African youths who the African Union charter claims as her biggest resource and of enormous potentials. We must work tenaciously to rewrite this narrative that must be countered.
In times of economic challenges most people look at life from a position of what isn’t working as opposed to what is. Even more so, if you equate yourselves with what you do rather than who you are, and you’re struggling in your work, it will fundamentally impact your life. “Attitude is contagious.” It’s not only contagious to others but to yourselves as well as you talk yourself into something or out of something. If you’re going to self-talk it might as well be in a way that energizes you and helps you succeed even in the midst of difficult times.
In closing, be challenged by the words of Patanjali (c. 1st to 3rd century BC), “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds; your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
It is now therefore incumbent on young Africans to roll-up their sleeves and dust-up their dreams and potentials to compete with the rest of the world.