From the Program Manager’s Desk
Three years ago I received from Ecobank, a newsletter in which they chronicled the business exploits of Patrice Motsepe. The business mogul is already wealthy beyond imagination and can afford to spend the rest of his life relaxing in the Bahamas or the Maldives but he stated something so striking I began to wonder if we have a generation of young people with such drive. The key statement in his shared advice was “Innovate or go extinct.” This commitment to lifelong innovation and development made me stop and think. Are we doing enough to change ourselves and society? What are young people doing to improve their lives and their place in society? Are they making their voices heard? How many have attempted projects to improve their communities and how many are looking beyond basic academic knowledge?
To answer these and many other questions that are floating in my head, I advance that young people must stand up and take risks. The business moguls that we see today have not had a silver spoon handed to them, they have suffered, toiled, and lost many nights of sleep to get to where they are. They have not been scared to risk it all. Some have made investments that have left them broke only to try again. Success is about pain, risk, and suffering. It does not come overnight but requires a commitment like that voiced by Patrice Motsepe. As young people, it is important to know that with success there is no miracle, life is not stopping but is continuously evolving and moving forward. It’s either we adapt and adopt, innovate, and build the future we want. As a teacher, I am always asking my learners what kind of future they would want to see. This question, I have realized, is not the right question.
Instead, I should be asking “What are you doing now to prepare and contribute to the future you want?” The first question is wrong because it fosters feelings of entitlement to a set future with all systems in place for the comfortable fitting in of young people. However, there is no defined future, everyday challenges are waiting to be solved. Who must then solve these issues but those who want to benefit from it, the youth. The future we envision can only be turned into a reality if young people are constantly innovating and willing to be actively involved in building the future of their dreams. The responsibility and obligation to self-improvement is self. Today’s young people must stop being a fault-finding and complaining generation but a problem-solving and innovative one.
As we begin a new year and another round of innovative solutions from high school learners in the 5th National Business Case Competition, I hope that young people continue to dream big, innovate, and live the reality of finding solutions for community-related problems in an entrepreneur-driven and sustainable way. Education must, as an end goal, produce young people who not only possess academic knowledge but have the skills relevant to growth and development. Our drive is to develop Africa’s future business leaders and this can only be done if the young people themselves possess the mindset for change. This year lets us grow the largest network of young business people and provide the right support and environment to boost youth entrepreneurship.
“What are you doing now to prepare and contribute to the future you want?”