The mindset of almost every graduate in Africa is to come out and get a white-collar job. Everybody wants to get a good job that will cover daily expenses, build a house, get a pension to live on after retirement, and so on. The question that comes to my mind each time I think of this is who then will create the job that everybody is craving for? Africa needs disruptive entrepreneurs to transform its economy.
Who is to blame for this thirst for jobs? Is it the people or the government? When we are in school, the government assures us of jobs after school. Politicians tell us that we will have a good life with comfortable jobs. Promising us and yet not going on retirement to give us space. Nobody is talking of job creation.
Should they have been telling us about creating institutions and a positive environment for enterprise creation, don’t you think it would have changed the minds of the people from job search to job creation?
Entrepreneurship in a nutshell will bring about job creation, empowerment, poverty reduction and income generation.
Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime. Lao Tzu
I want to relate to the first part of the above, ‘Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day’ , to what most African governments are doing. By using jobs as a propaganda for good living, they are just trying to encourage the people to depend on them. They (politicians) want the people to look at them as ‘saviors‘. That’s why we see poverty everywhere in Africa because majority of the people depend on what the government can offer to them. A strong economy is built by entrepreneurs. In a strong economy, the private sector employs more people than the government. In my country Cameroon, the government is fighting to be the number one employer.
Let’s take the second part of the quote, This is giving the people independence. This will make the person self-sufficient and creative. I love the way the Igbo people of Nigeria carry out business. They are one of the most enterprising peoples of Africa. They don’t actually employ their workers and pay them salaries. They teach them the trade and at the end, give them the stock needed or money to start their own businesses (I am not in any way supporting the inhumane part of the deal where some treat their employees like slaves). This people have contributed a lot to what we see today as Nigeria, the largest and strongest economy in sub-Sahara Africa. This is to say that if a little effort is made on the part of the government to encourage entrepreneurship, a lot of changes will take place and Africa will be strong again.
Anyhow, on my part, this section of the above quote by Lao Tzu is limited, considering the situation of Africa today. My thoughts below may differ a little. This thought may have been valid in his time, but things have changed more. What we need today may be a little disruptive.
Teach a [wo]man how to start a fishing business that will employ others. It will feed [her]him and family; it will feed and transform [her]his community. This is how we should think if we have to make Africa a self-sustaining continent. Africa is usually termed ‘the bread basket of the world’. It’s really ironic. How can you be termed that and you live on aid from the same people who call you that? Why should Africa be the bread basket of the world and be unable to feed itself?
For Africa to be able to feed itself, institutions must be put in place to encourage the creation of businesses. Businesses that will help create jobs and empower communities. This will bring about reduction in poverty and improved income. Incomes generated from these businesses will mean those benefiting from it could save or reinvest in other income generating projects.
For this to happen, it is necessary for governments or the institutions in charge to promote entrepreneurship by putting in place working policy goals to encourage entrepreneurial thinking. Encouraging disruptive entrepreneurs is what African economies need to assure the generation generating jobs, poverty reduction and economic growth..