Improving the skills of young people to be entrepreneurs in the age of technology is essential

The young people of Africa are, without a doubt, one of the greatest resources of the continent. As other regions struggle with aging populations and declining birth rates, sub-Saharan Africa can claim a mean age 19.7 with around 70% of the population under 30 years old. These young people are becoming better educated and connected.

But all that potential means nothing if they don’t get the opportunities to develop it. And in many countries, it is clear that they are not. In South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, the unemployment rate sits in 63.9% for those between 15 and 24 years old and 42.1% for those between 25 and 34 years old. Meanwhile, in Nigeria, the rate among 15-34 year olds is about 42.5%. And in Kenya, the lobby group The Youth Congress says that seven out of 10 unemployed are aged 35 or younger.

While there are a number of interventions that could and should be done to help turn these numbers around, perhaps the most important is ensuring that young people have the skills they need to be entrepreneurs. Indeed, Research has shown that innovators can create significant wealth and have considerable influence on the development of society.

It’s even more critical at a time when technology is accelerating so quickly that jobs can quickly become redundant.

“Encouraging entrepreneurship among young people not only allows them to create their own opportunities and jobs for other young people,” says Didi Onwu, managing editor of The Anzisha Prize, an organization born out of a partnership between the African Leadership Academy and the Mastercard Foundation that seeks to increase the number of entrepreneurs that generate employment fundamentally and significantly in Africa. “It can also help them recognize and pursue employment opportunities that they otherwise might not have been able to.”

See also  New technology helps self-driving cars handle bad weather – IoT World Today

Yes, entrepreneurship really is a skill.

Before delving into exactly what kinds of skills can help foster entrepreneurship among young people across a continent, it’s worth noting that there is a widespread myth that needs to be debunked. Over the years, the glowing profiles of entrepreneurs (particularly in the tech space) have convinced many that entrepreneurs are born, not made.

But, as Onwu points out, that’s simply not true.

“The idea of ​​the brilliant innovator turned billionaire is a good story,” he says. “But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that the most successful entrepreneurs were given the tools they needed to be successful from a very young age.”

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, for example, enjoyed a lot of time with his high school computer at a time when owning one was still a rarity. Her mother also served on the board of directors of a nonprofit organization with then-IBM president John Opel, helping the then fledgling company. mark a contract with the computing giant that ultimately proved crucial to his future success.

“While we can’t provide every potential young African entrepreneur with a family connection, we can help them develop critical entrepreneurial skills that will serve them well in the future,” says Onwu.

The right skills are the most important

While there are obviously a number of hard skills, such as those related to technological competence, that are important to being an entrepreneur, the really valuable ones are a bit more intangible. And equipping young people with those skills requires more than a simple curriculum.

Take networking, for example. While you could teach the basics in a course, building real networks takes time and consistent effort. The same is true for pitching to investors for financing. Other skills, like mastering the fear of failure, can only be learned through practice.

See also  Howard Hosts 5th Annual Black Blockchain Technology Summit: The Hilltop

“It’s something we thought about a lot when we redesigned the scholarship program from scratch a few years ago,” says Onwu. “We wanted to ensure that our fellows holistically developed a wide range of entrepreneurial skills throughout their fellowships and beyond.”

Fellows, for example, have access to communities of fellow entrepreneurs, are introduced to a wide network of stakeholders and business experts, and given the opportunity to shadow successful entrepreneurs in their industry. It is an approach that makes a lot of sense considering that Research has shown that exposure to innovation has a significant positive impact not only on the type of innovation young people produce, but also on their overall ability to be innovative.

Upskilling, now and forever

It must be made absolutely clear that Africa needs its young people to be equipped with entrepreneurial skills if they are to reach their full potential in an age of fast-paced technology. And, as Onwu points out, efforts must be made to ensure that this is the case at all levels of society.

“While we are incredibly proud of the work we do at the Anzisha Prize, together with our partners, no single organization can provide all of Africa’s youth with the skills they need to thrive as entrepreneurs,” he says. “It needs buy-in from governments, NGOs, the private sector and a variety of other stakeholders.”

Furthermore, these efforts cannot simply be short-term, but must be sustained over a long period of time.

“The factors that make upskilling young people in Africa to be entrepreneurs so important now are not going to go away any time soon,” he concludes. “It is therefore essential that every effort is made to ensure that any initiative aimed at developing entrepreneurship is sustainable and capable of adapting to an ever-changing business and technological environment.”

Leave a Comment