Zambia: Why Youth Development Fund has failed to create jobs and changes needed

“The evaluation found that the YDF created a total of 742 paid jobs from 2011 to 2015.The involvement of politicians in the disbursement of funds has negatively influenced the public perception of the Fund and its potential as a youth economic empowerment vehicle. The Fund is highly linked to the political structures” (ZIPAR)

The 2020 Budget presented by Minister of Finance, Dr. Bwalya Ng’andu on September, 27, 2019 did not cover the issue of Youth unemployment comprehensively as one would have expected. There were a few theoretical and cavalier sentences in budget that the minister read like: “ With regard to skills development, support to technical, vocation and entrepreneurship development as a means for job and wealth creation will remain a priority”, which did not inspire confidence about its practicality and impact. Youth unemployment is an issue I consider as the number one social, political and economic problem facing Zambia to day but one gets the impression it is no getting enough attention.

The practical aspect of Youth empowerment that the Minister should have addressed in the budget was the reform of the moribund Youth Development Fund. In the current article, I will address factors that have contributed to its failure to achieve job creation. The next one will provide comprehensive and practical solutions on how the Fund can be redesigned to create jobs for young people.

The Republic of Zambia government created the Youth Development Fund (YDF) in 2000 in order to address the issue of Youth unemployment through encouraging young people who could not find formal salaried employment to pursue entrepreneurship and self-employment. This option to employment is one of the universally and internationally recognized solution to youth unemployment.

However, 19 years down the line, there is nothing much to show for it. This article will address the reasons why the programme has miserably failed and why it needs to be revisited and refined as it still offers hope to the issue of solving youth unemployment if innovatively implemented.

According to the study and evaluation of the programme done by the Zambia Institute for Policy analysis and Research (ZIPAR) in 2018, they concluded that the programme failed to achieve its objectives

“The evaluation found that the YDF created a total of 742 paid jobs from 2011 to 2015. Compared to the amount of resources that were invested in the YDF, the jobs did not sufficiently contribute to reduction in the high youth unemployment rate. Additionally, the welfare of the beneficiaries did not improve compared to that of the non- beneficiaries”, ZPAR study concluded.

The intentions of the policy were noble but any knowledgeable person would have predicted or foreseen that the programme was destined to fail from the word go. The reasons why the programme was not going to achieve its objectives was because of flaws in its design, implementation and monitoring and evaluation.

In the first instance, the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child development was charged with the task of managing the fund – loan assessment and disbursement of funds – for Youth empowerment. It is curious how one could have expected a line ministry to all of sudden become a financial institution and expected to carry out the complicated task of loan assessment, disbursement and recovery. It is obvious that issues of capacity, skills set, and experience were certainly going to arise in the administration of the fund.

The Youth Development Fund Programme (YDF), was premised on the flawed assumption that money was the panacea to youth unemployment and is the only impediment to youth going into business. And as such, once funds were provided, Youth were going to set up businesses and create jobs. But if any comprehensive independent research had been done, the programme would have been designed in such way that other resources like business development services, practical youth entrepreneurship training, information dissemination, mentoring and coaching and the use of 21st century digital tools would have been incorporated in the programme. These were clearly absent.

There is also the big and persistent mistake that Government bureaucrats make by thinking that they can come up with private sector policies including those relating to job creation to the exclusion of the people with the expertise and who know how jobs are and be created – the private sector. It is crystal clear that one of the major reasons why the YDF failed is the fact that the Private sector was not involved by government in the design of the programme, its implementation and its monitoring. There was need for the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Child Development to involve the private sector by tapping into private sector expertise and possibly out sourcing some of the services as well as entering into some form of Public Private Partnerships (PPP).The line Ministry would still have been able to be in charge of the overall management of the programme.

The Youth Development Fund started in 2000 but there was no strong formal Monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework in place to find out how the fund was performing and whether it was achieving its objectives. The first M& E was contracted in 2017 which is 17 years after its commencement. It was, therefore, impossible to track and measure the impact the fund was making so that improvements could be made.

The other major problem that contributed to the fund failing to achieve its objectives is the fact that it is highly politicized. The various administrations under the MMD and PF have abused the Fund for political purposes and the Zambia Institute for Policy analysis study alludes to this.

”The involvement of politicians in the disbursement of funds has negatively influenced the public perception of the Fund and its potential as a youth economic empowerment vehicle. This is because the Fund is highly linked to the political structures, which make youths think the funds are a political reward or benefit, and this perception could have significantly affected repayments”. ZIPAR study observed.

The idea of solving youth unemployment with entrepreneurship and self-employment initiatives is a noble one and can achieve its intended objectives but the big question is the vehicles and tools used to implement the policy. If innovatively designed, and in tandem with the knowledge and ICT economy of the 21st century, entrepreneurship and self-employment can solve the youth unemployment problem. The government should rethink the design of the Youth Development Fund.

It is imperative that the promotion of youth entrepreneurship should be approached comprehensively in order to achieve lasting impacts. A mix of financial and non-financial support as well as partnership with the private sector can influence the success and sustainability of such policies.

Source Lusaka Times

South Africa: Youth employability a key issue for agri sector

The agriculture sector – which employs just under 1 million people in South Africa according to StatsSA – is crying out for a solution to its youth employability challenge.

This was one of the key takeaways from the Youth Employment Service (YES) participation at the recent CGA Citrus Summit held in Port Elizabeth.

“Lack of viable and sustainable youth employability solutions was a clear issue for all stakeholders,” says Lara Grieve, YES business development manager.

Grieve added: “What was clear from the event was that the agriculture sector is looking for ways to bring a more collaborative approach to the unemployment challenge, bringing government and the commercial players in the agriculture sector together.”

Borne out of the CEO Initiative, YES has become one of the highest impact programs in SA, creating on average nearly 700 work opportunities each week in its first five months.

These opportunities provide unemployed black youth (18 – 35 years old), the chance to access the workforce, gain valuable skills and earn a basic wage. Furthermore, these YES youth are equipped with smartphone devices to learn valuable skills including work readiness, health and safety, financial wellness and more through the YES application. YES also enjoys a strategic partnership with LinkedIn. This means that YES youth can access one of the largest professional networks in the world, and build CVs and references that put them in front of potential future employers.

A further benefit of YES is that it offers attractive benefits to businesses looking to improve their Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) scorecard rating. Qualifying businesses can improve their B-BBEE rating by either 1 or 2 levels by employing and absorbing YES youth, in line with the Practice Note issued in October 2018.

“Agriculture is an important sector for the South African economy,” says YES chief executive Tashmia Ismail-Saville, who points out that there is an over-concentration of youth looking for work opportunities in Gauteng, but finding themselves competing with highly-skilled people for entry-level jobs.

Ismail-Saville says that South Africa would benefit from a decentralized workforce where jobs are created in developing parts of the economy. “By creating employment in the agriculture sector, salaries and skills are retained in these regions, contributing to economic development. If we create 1,000 entry-level jobs in a region such as Limpopo or Nelspruit, we add R42m to the local economy.”

Source Farmers Review Africa

South Africa: Western Cape youth are hungry for change

By Muhammad Khalid Sayed

Time spent electioneering for the ANC in the Western Cape has been a journey into the hearts and minds of the youth who are hungry for an opportunity to walk tall in the new South Africa.

Over the past few months, I have been privileged to be part of the leadership of the ANC Youth League that has been electioneering for the ANC in the Western Cape.

It has been a journey that took us into dwellings that were in informal settlements, townships, rural areas and even middle-class suburbs.

Many of these dwellings were not what one would traditionally call a home. But to its occupants they were home, a place one could view as one’s own space, even if at times there was not a crumb of food, electricity or running water.

The journey through dwellings in the Western Cape to meet young people, view their circumstances, and talk with them about why it was important to register and vote for the ANC on May 8 has been a voyage of discovery.

It was a journey into the hearts and minds of the segment that makes up the biggest part of the South African population: the youth – my constituency, the young ones who one day will be viewed as the older generation.

I was struck by the hunger burning in their eyes. It was not a hunger that said “gimme gimme because I’m entitled to it”. It also was not a hunger that was screaming loudly “we want handouts because the country owes us”.

No, it was a hunger for integrity, self-respect, education and the chance to walk tall in this new South Africa. The youth with whom I had had soul-searching discussions were not part of those who go about bringing educational institutions to a standstill by destroying buildings or blocking access to educational institutions.

The young people I spoke to knew the value of education and were conversant with or open to discussing what drove those young rebels with a cause, such as Anton Lembede, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and Walter Sisulu, to add fire to the liberation struggle and form the ANC Youth League.

The example of these firebrands and the story of how they rejuvenated the ANC 75 years ago was appealing. Looking back it was their intervention that ended with Nelson Mandela taking office as the first black president of South Africa.

Today, South Africa is again looking to its youth for inspiration. But a distinction must be drawn between the various youth formations attached to political parties. As the ANC Youth League, we are the true heirs of Lembede, Sisulu, Tambo and Mandela. We carry the hopes, fears and aspirations of our people. We are different from the youth that hang on the words and politics of the divisive Julius Malema and the whinging Mmusi Maimane.

In the Western Cape, the ANC Youth League, aware of the big shoes that we have to fill, is campaigning for a united province, where we will not refer to fellow citizens as refugees, as Helen Zille once did. We are earnest about tackling crime, making our schools safe sites of learning and boosting the participation of youth in business. Youth employment and participation in sport are also important to us.

So, too, is our support for the leader of the ANC and President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. He is our leader and one of the most respected presidents in the history of our glorious movement, South Africa and the globe.

However, he faces a multitude of challenges in steering the ANC in the right direction and also taking the country out of treacherous waters. In May, he’ll be asking the electorate for a mandate for the ANC to govern for another five years. We are behind President Ramaphosa in seeking this mandate. We have his back.

It’s in our interest that South Africa becomes a successful democracy that will fill all of us with hope, confidence and excitement about the future. If we want to continue the recovery we cannot be uninvolved when it comes to politics and elections. Our future is on the line and, like 1944, the Youth League is ready to serve South Africa.

The situation, as we all know, is critical. When President Ramaphosa launched the ANC Election Manifesto he said that we live in a country where, by the broader definition, over nine million South Africans are unemployed. Disturbing for us is that out of every 10 young South Africans, four are neither in employment nor in education and training.

This is a situation that mischief-making politicians are all too willing to exploit. No one could have said it better than the president when he remarked: “This is a tragedy of vast proportions, a direct challenge to the promise of our democratic constitution and the cause of great hardship and despair.”

We have launched our elections manifesto. At the core of our electioneering is a resolve to help the ANC win a decisive majority as called for by President Ramaphosa.

Such a win will give him the mandate to introduce changes that only the ANC can, accelerate the fight against corruption, build a developmental state that puts people first and that also has dedicated public servants who work diligently to improve the lives of the people.

As youth leaders, we commit ourselves to support a skills revolution in South Africa. We applaud the president’s undertaking to open up the doors of learning to all to equip young South Africans for the world of tomorrow. We also praise plans to expand fee-free education for students from poor and working-class backgrounds to cover both first- and second-year students.

The Youth League agrees that a priority for our country is the rights of women and ending discrimination and preventing violence against women and girls. We also call on all South Africans to work together to end gender-based violence and the patriarchal practices that give rise to it.

During my engagements with young people in the Western Cape, I have been made aware, over and over again, that our youth are disgruntled with the DA and want to see the change in the Western Cape.

But anger alone will not bring in the New Dawn in our province. Voting for the ANC will. That is why we are campaigning and urging all young people to vote for the change that President Ramaphosa is promising.

Source Daily Maverick

Kenya: County Mulls Enterprise Fund For Youth

By Veronica Bosibori

Nakuru County is mulling over a bill on enterprise fund to enable the youth to access loans at three per cent interest rate in order to control the bulging unemployment situation in the area.

The County Executive for youth, gender and sports, Dr. Peter Ketienye, said the county plans to open cultural centers in all the eleven sub-counties and popularize drama.

He said the increased numbers of idle youth were a danger to the economic development of the county because their potential was not being utilized and there is a possibility of them turning into criminal activities.

He promised to expand and modernize Nakuru Player’s Theater because it has a capacity of making revenue for the county and youths who are talented in drama.

MCA for Flamingo Ward, Eddy Kiragu, said the cultural committee which he heads had noted prospects of employment creation through drama, skits and fashion shows.

Kiragu added that just like music, drama should be taught in colleges so as to improve in film making and increase tourist attraction.

Source KNA

Skill-based training necessary to curb shortage of employable youth in Kenya

By Ramakrishnan Hariharan

The shortage of skilled workers in the informal sector is a growing concern for a country such as Kenya, with 77 per cent of her workforce employed in the informal sector.
It may have come as a shock to many when it was reported that a skilled welder for the SGR project could not be found.
At least half a million youth graduate from Kenyan universities annually and a majority of these do not make it to the job market owing to a lack of the skills needed for meaningful employment.

At the same time, according to a study by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, over 86 percent of Kenyan youth aged between 15 and 24 years believe that the education is the ultimate path to a successful life. Slightly below 25 per cent of the respondents cited a lack of quality education as their main challenge in life.

Only 21 percent of the respondents confessed to have college or university education, many of them for financial or other reasons, not because they lack the capability.

With such a huge demographic divide, the question remains: how can we leverage resources to fill existing gaps in the market? Kenyan youth play an integral role in our economy’s growth and can do even more.

Yet, in practice, many youths face an uphill task to participate meaningfully in a way that not only changes their lives but also has an impact on the economy.

Unlike other developing regions, sub-Saharan Africa’s population is becoming more youthful, and there has been a clear need to invest in Africa’s youth as Africa has the most youthful population and is the fastest growing region in the world.

According to a report by UNDP, by 2055 the continent’s youth population (aged 15 – 24) is expected to be more than 452 million.
In response, there has been a strong focus on technological skills that can prepare young adults for future careers that involve augmented intelligence. At the same time, there is still a need to address the existing lack of basic skills.

Source Stardard Digital

How to Know Yourself and Seek Self Improvement

By Maria Jensen

Today, most people like the idea about self-improvement. It’s trendy.

But before you can improve yourself, you have to get to know who you are, what you want, and why it’s so crucial to know the answers to those questions.

Once you know who you are, what you stand for, and what you want, then you can go on to work on self-improvement.

This article will take you through the main reasons why you should take the time to get to know yourself, how to get to know yourself, and then finally how to seek self-improvement.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Why You Should Get to Know Yourself
  2. How to Get to Know Yourself
  3. How to Seek Self-Improvement
  4. Final Thoughts

Why You Should Get to Know Yourself
Many people go through life without getting a clear understanding of themselves. There’s a difference between wanting to be someone and then the actions that creates a person. It’s easy to tell people who you are, but can you actually walk the talk?

We have a tendency to brush away our shortcomings and play a certain role that we’ve intentionally or unintentionally created for ourselves. It may work for a while, but it won’t help you achieve anything in the long run.

Yes, you can say you’re a good spouse. People will believe you when they see the picture-perfect image on your office, but if you go home to a different story, it doesn’t really matter.

In the end, the opinion that matters the most are the one we hold about ourselves. A lie will drain you, overwhelm you, and unresolved emotions will resurface.

Maybe you choose a certain path many years ago and now you feel stuck. You look in the mirror and you don’t recognize yourself. The week seems endless and it’s only 7am on a Monday morning.

These are just examples. It doesn’t mean that only unhappy people need to get know themselves and seek self-improvement. Even if your life is truly as great as it looks like, it’s always worth checking in with yourself.

It’s natural to change throughout life, but too many people are afraid of reacting to this change or realize that the path they once choose may not be right anymore.

Change is scary, but it’s even more scary to ignore your emotions and not react to them. For better or worse – change is the only constant. If you get to know yourself now, then you’ll be able to handle change better. Obviously, you can’t always control what happens to you, but you can control how you react to it.

There’s no time limit for getting to know yourself or window of opportunity. Remember that:

“Self-improvement and success often occur together. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the same thing.”

You can be at the top of your game to the outside world, but still feel the need to get to know yourself and seek self-improvement.

It’s never too late to get to know yourself, because once you do, then you’ll be ready for whatever comes next. When you know yourself, a new road won’t seem scary because you already know whether you’re planning on turning left or right.

How to Get to Know Yourself
So, it’s settled. It’s a good idea to know this person that you wake up to every morning and look at while brushing your teeth. The person in the mirror that kind of looks the same, but yet somehow seems different over time. Here comes the million dollar question: where do you start?

Unfortunately, there isn’t a quick answer (or solution) to this. It isn’t math. There’s no right or wrong. You can’t find a page with all the secret answers and ace the test.

Most people will get a better feeling of who they are over time by simply looking back at their previous actions, reactions and decisions. But you can also choose to take an active part of the progress right now.

Here are some active actions you can take to get to know yourself:

1. Increase Your Self-Awareness
It’s all about you now. Let the outside world exist on its own. It’s not about your neighbour or the guy from high school that posted yet another sunny picture from Dubai. It’s not about them.

Take some time to look at yourself. What have you been doing? How do you react to certain situations? What makes you smile?

And if you keep going back to comparing yourself to a specific person, then ask yourself why you’re so fixated on them. Figure yourself out. You’re worth knowing.

2. Face Your Fears
It might seem obvious, but for some reason you keep avoiding that one thing.

A lot of people let fear stand in their way even though they know deep down they have the ability to face it. It’s easy to say of course, but if you manage to overcome your weakness, it will change you for the better. You will learn from it, and you’ll know a whole lot more about your character.

Not sure how to conquer your fears? This guide can help you:

How to Overcome Your Irrational Fears (That Stop You from Succeeding)

3. Focus on Your Strengths
It’s always a good idea to focus on what you thrive at and nurture it. It will help you become more successful, but you’ll also get a better understanding of yourself as our strengths are a big part of who we are.

Even if you’ve been running towards the wall for a while and your head is really starting to hurt – you’ll always have some strengths in you that you can return to. Go back and focus on them and see where they’ll lead you. Maybe a talent will turn into a career. Maybe a character trait will turn into a new path or relationship.

Now, let’s move on to how to go further and seek self-improvement.

Ryan Holiday said:

”You can’t learn if you think you already know. You will not find the answers if you’re too conceited and self-assured to ask the questions. You cannot get better if you’re convinced you are the best.”

How to Seek Self-Improvement
It’s important to leave ego behind and realize that you’ll never move forward, if you don’t accept that you’re not the best. You can always become better. Maybe you’re currently the best at your job, but you should never stop competing against yourself. It’s not about putting endless pressure on yourself. It’s about keeping yourself in movement.

Maybe you did some soul-searching and you realized that you did choose the right path. That’s great, but it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to improve yourself. Or maybe you just realized that you want a completely different life. You quit your job, bought a dog and moved to a new city. Great, but you’re not done yet.

Once you tell yourself you have done what you set out to do, then you’ll run into the same wall that knocked you out in the first place.

Self-improvement is not about putting yourself down. Self-improvement is about lifting yourself up higher. The only way to do that is by accepting that you’re not the best. You can always become better. Even (or maybe especially) if you’re only competing against yourself.

Final Thoughts
Self-improvement can be applied to anything from learning a new skill, learning to deal with your anger, or putting yourself in a new situation that scares you. Some people need to change their scenery completely. Some people just need to attend a meeting every Thursday. Others may need to take up a self-defence class to feel in control again.

Sometimes life is not about gaining or achieving. Sometimes life is simply about losing and letting go.

People are capable of doing (almost) everything that the people they admire are doing. You can’t limit yourself by saying you can’t do a specific thing, because you’re you. It all comes down to mind-set and commitment. Get to know yourself and then set out clear goals.

Aristotle once said:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Reference
[1] ^ Mark Manson, The subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, page 3
[2] ^ Ryan Holiday: Ego is the enemy, page 41

This article was first published at Lifehack

Namibia: My personal reflection on President Lungu’s call to support youth entrepreneurs

By Eng Kumbukilani Phiri

For the past few days I have been restricting myself from commenting on the matter concerning the Presidents call to relevant institutions created to promote youth entrepreneurship to show cause or risk being reshuffled or fired.

Speaking in Kabwe during the Central Province Patriotic Front Conference, President Lungu cautioned against the laissez-faire attitude most institutions mandated to help and support youth entrepreneurs show. The President called for immediate action failure to which he was going to reshuffle or fire some of them.

As a youth entrepreneur, when I listened to the President’s speech, I was filled with joy to the extent that I even shed a tear. For a number of times, I have bemoaned our lack of drive as a country to support local entrepreneurship. Most of the time, we have heard government officials boasting about inviting foreigners to come and invest in Zambia. This has always made me wonder whether Zambians are incapable of being investors in their own country. Most policies have been crafted and designed to attract foreign investors with tax holidays that go for many years, yet, local investors no matter the size of their investment do not enjoy similar incentives. Local investors are made to start paying taxes right from their first day of operations. Similarly, due to this discrimination in policy development that somehow favour foreign investors, even financial institutions in the country tend to be more supportive to foreign investors than to the local ones. I have seen some foreigners come with nothing, pick up a business idea locally, go to financial institutions and get funded, yet many locals have brilliant ideas which are never operationalized and end up going to the grave with the owners. It is just appalling.

Coming back to the Presidents call for support to youth entrepreneurs, I was reluctant to comment on this matter due to my own personal experiences as a local entrepreneur. In 2017, I had the worst experience of my life as a local businessman. To date, I am still shocked and traumatized at what I went through. To make matters worse, its now almost two years since that fateful day when our hope and investment got shattered by our fellow Zambians, but still to date no progress has been made for us to recover anything and probably allow us to invest in any of our many ideas that we have.

Prior to 2017, I had managed to build a very thriving business founding and managing three companies. One was involved in construction and real estate development, the other was involved in import and wholesaling of foreign products, and the last one was formed as a diversification into timber processing and export. The diversification into timber processing and export is what brought all the misery in my business life. Some of you may still remember the lamentations and pleas I made to see to it that at least, those of us who had invested genuinely and were operating within the law were given a fair treatment and if anything supported to build our businesses according to what the government wanted at the time. To cut the long story short, my company Green Lake Zambia Limited applied and was given a concession licence to harvest and process timber in Isoka. This was after meeting all the requirements that also included an Environmental Project Brief and consent from both the Chief and the local council. When the Minister addressed us and told us that no timber was going to leave Zambia unless it was at least processed into four corners, my company obliged and went further to acquire equipment to process the timber. However, after harvesting and processing the timber and just before getting an export permit for our first consignment, government banned the harvest and trade in Mukula and all export of timber unless in finished product form. This all happened when we had already made a huge investment in millions of Kwacha that left our bank account dry. The decision to ban harvesting and trade in Mukula could perhaps be justified given the rampant illegal dealings at the time. However, special consideration should have been put in place to secure investments for legal and genuine licence holding companies. This was never done and companies like ours suffered major losses and continue to suffer to date.

When the ban was effected, there was no prior communication to the concession licence holders as required by law. To our surprise we just saw security wings coming to our processing site and saying there was a ban on harvesting and processing of timber. They even arrested four of my innocent workers despite showing them that we were not operating illegally.

At the time all this was happening, I was abroad on a business trip which I had to abort and flew to Isoka via Mbeya in Tanzania. After four days in cells and after being denied bond, we finally managed to secure bail from the court for our four workers. Thanks to the three brave Isoka residents who came to our help despite being threatened by some local officials there. The case went on for 17 months, but the people who arrested my workers failed to prosecute the case until the magistrate decided to discontinue it. During this whole time, my workers were driving from Lusaka to Isoka every month spending thousands of Kwacha to go and appear in court just for a mention. I tried everything I could to seek answers and help from all the officials I knew. However, nobody seemed to have any answers or means to help.

What makes me cry to date is that, despite eventually understanding that we were victims of circumstances, nobody seemed bothered about our predicament. Worse still, nobody seemed bothered that a fellow Zambian had lost a huge investment that could be used to invest in other areas and create employment for the many unemployed Zambians especially the youths.

During the time when all this was happening, we were treated like common criminals. The security wings refused to look at our documentation and took our timber and dumped it at the DCs office together with timber from illegal operators. Surprisingly, it was not long before ZAFFICO came with Chinese buyers to load some of the timber that was dumped at the DCs office. Very shocking indeed. The remaining timber still rots at the DCs office having gone through many seasons of rains and hot weather eventually losing all the market value and can only be good for firewood at the moment.

When It became very clear to me that there was no one who was going to help me, I started panicking and ended up writing an open letter to President Edgar Chagwa Lungu that appeared as a feature story in the Daily Nation of the 4th of October, 2017 and was widely circulated among many online news platforms. I received calls from both Zambians and foreigners from all over the world. Many Zambians in the diaspora were very concerned about how I was treated, many feared that the same thing would happen to them if they decided to bring their hard-earned money to invest in the county. The truth is that, I came back to Zambia as an investor only that I was not a foreigner as Zambia is my own country.

I called for the Presidents help because I had tried to seek answers and solutions from the government officers, Directors, Permanent Secretaries, Ministers, etc., but none seemed to have any. To me it was clear that only the President being the most powerful man in the country would help me. Unfortunately, maybe due to his busy schedule, the President may not have seen my open letter to him as I never got any feedback from him or those around him. Maybe the people who were supposed to show him the open letter never bothered because it was a Zambian investor crying for help and not a foreigner. For all I know, President Lungu is a very caring leader who would have called me or instructed those mandated to deal with such issues to quickly find a solution for us. He just recently called a young artist who had made a portrait of him and offered to buy her paintings, which clearly shows that he very much cares about the talent and plight of the youths and I can never claim to be an exception. Sadly, to date our issue has remained unresolved and nothing from our investment has been recovered.

Now that the President has spoken and warned those that are not helping youth entrepreneurs like myself, my hope has been ignited that perhaps our issue will now be looked at with the seriousness it deserves.

Many of you may be wondering why we have not gone to court as a company. Firstly, when this thing happened, we had invested all our money in the business and remained with nothing to pay any lawyer. Secondly, four of our workers were still appearing in court. We wanted the case to be resolved first before we could think of anything else. Thirdly, I have so much trust and hope in our President as a father of the nation. I was so sure that after writing that open letter to him, once he got wind of it, a solution was going to be found. This is the more reason I am writing this article with confidence that at least now that he has made a stance, perhaps he will get to read this and help us find a solution. To be honest, we have brilliant ideas that we would like to implement and employee many more Zambians than the over a hundred our company has now.

My principle is that, instead of just being critical of government to provide all of us with employment, I decided to be creative and innovative enough to create employment for myself and other youths to supplement government effort.

Finally, I am still pleading with President Lungu to consider meeting some of us from the youths who have made a choice to venture into entrepreneurship. Your Excellency, any help you will render to the youths now will stand out as your legacy when you finally decide to retire one day.

God bless

Source Lusaka Times

These 5 Skills Are More Important for Entrepreneurs Than Any Fancy Degree

By Bill Green

One of the great fallacies about building a professional career is believing where you went to school dictates how successful you become.

This is one of the most heavily debated topics in the business world: the effective return on investment for attending college and/or pursue an MBA. Now, I’m not saying formal education is a poor investment, by any means. For many people, school is an opportunity to “know what you don’t know,” and that in itself makes it a worthwhile pursuit.

Where people make the mistake, however, is in thinking the degree itself is all that’s needed.

They believe that because they attended the classes and passed the tests, then where they went to school will carry them to professional success–and that’s simply not true. As someone who didn’t end up graduating from college, I can tell you firsthand that over decades of building businesses, it’s the working skills I value in my partners and employees over a fancy resume. I would much rather hire the kid who has tried and failed, than the one who passed his or her classes with flying colors, but never attempted to put their theoretical knowledge to the test in the real world.

This is a topic I speak about at length in my book, All In. Again, I’m not saying a formal education or an MBA is a waste of time or money. Just make sure that, in addition to building your resume, you make it a point to acquire the following 5 skills.

These are the things that ultimately make you a professional success story–whether you climb the ladder of a larger organization, or you build your own from the ground up:

1. Honesty (With Yourself)

Lots of people have ideas.

Students, especially, before stepping into the real world, tend to get caught up in their ideas. They love thinking about them, brainstorming them, and sharing them with their friends and family. Unfortunately, ideas without execution don’t go very far. And while there is absolutely value in coming up with great ideas, an idea cannot become “great” until it faces its first customer.

One of the most valuable skills you can acquire early in your professional career is knowing the difference between what sounds great in theory, and what holds real value to a paying customer or a loyal user. And the only way to acquire this skill is to try a lot of different things. The more you create, and the more you try to build yourself, the faster you will learn what people are willing to pay for and what they would rather do without.

You’ll learn how to be honest about whether your idea has real potential or not.

2. Leadership

Entrepreneurship, working within a startup, or being part of a smaller team within a larger corporate environment, all require some capacity of team interaction.

Many entrepreneurs or “intrepreneurs” (those who bring massive value inside larger organizations) tend to forget that the best business ideas in the world require more than just plug-and-chug execution in order to be successful. All execution requires teamwork, and all teamwork requires a lengthy list of soft skills in order to keep people motivated, focused, and loyal. One of those soft skills is the ability to communicate your vision and lead those around you to victory.

The best way I’ve found to acquire the skill of leadership is to put yourself in environments where you either have the opportunity to learn from a talented leader, or to be forced to step up and become a leader yourself. Ideally, you’ll have a number of both of these experiences in your professional career.

3. Discipline

The kind of discipline school encourages is not the same discipline the real world asks of you.

In school, the punishment for not being “disciplined” with your work is quite inconsequential, all things considered. You might fail a test, or get a bad grade for the semester. But when you’re starting a company, or working within someone else’s company and handling paying clients, suddenly the consequences become very real. Your mistakes can be measured in cash.

Taking the idea of discipline a step further, school plans the path out for you. What is much more difficult is determining where you want to head on the path, while simultaneously dealing with unforeseen challenges at the same time. Persisting in the face of uncertainty, pressure, or the potential of failure, requires a level of discipline that cannot be acquired in a semester.

Discipline is something that takes years to master.

The best way to get started, then, is to find as many things in life to become disciplined about. If you can become disciplined with your finances, your daily schedule, your health, etc., then you are creating the habits that will set you up for success.

4. Optimism

This is a skill many don’t consciously acquire.

But the truth is, entrepreneurship and professional advancement is tough work. Every day isn’t great. The wins are far less frequent than the losses. And it can be very easy to fall into a state of mind where your day to day is seen as stressful, overwhelming, and a pain.

Listen, if you want to make it to the summit, remember this: it’s all in your head.

The ability to be optimistic and positive, even in the face of great obstacles, is not to be undervalued. You’re the one who chose to pursue a path of success. You’re the one who wanted to build something great. You’re the one who chose this life, for yourself. So, don’t look for the bad, the ugly, and the stressful. Instead, look for things to be thankful for: like the fact that you even have the opportunity to pursue what you’re passionate about in the first place.

Optimism isn’t a weakness. Optimism is the state of mind that will give you endurance for the long road ahead.

5. Resilience

Last but not least, I firmly believe it’s imperative that every young individual find opportunities, any opportunity at all, to build the skill of resilience.

For me, I gained this skill-building my first company, Wilmar, starting as a teenager in a flea market. There I was, selling hand tools off of a fold-up card table prices–I heard the word “No” dozens of times each day. But when I would eventually hear a “Yes,” I learned the importance of resilience and persistence. Had I accepted the first, or second, or twenty-third “No,” I might never have built Wilmar, a company that ended up eventually being acquired by Home Depot.

The reason why I always take fancy resumés with a grain of salt is because a resumé doesn’t always show you how resilient someone is. Sure, I want to know where you went to school, but I also want to know about a time in your life when someone told you, “No, that’s not going to work,” and you pressed on anyway. Regardless of whether you were successful or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that you tried, and you became a little more resilient in the process.

This article was first published at Inc

Launching Your Business in 2019? Consider These 5 Tips

By Young Entrepreneur Council

If your New Year’s resolution is to launch a business, then keep reading. More and more people want to ditch their 9-to-5s and take control of their futures by starting their own businesses.

But starting a business isn’t easy. It doesn’t matter whether you want to start a small business from your spare room or create the next multimillion-dollar global phenomenon — if you’re not prepared, your business won’t succeed. Luckily, though, there are a number of tips you can adopt that will make the likelihood of your success that much greater.

If you’re launching your business in 2019, here are my tips for success.

1. Stop aiming for perfection.

When launching a new business, it’s natural to want everything to go smoothly. But if you want to be triumphant, you must let go of your perfectionist tendencies. While you might think that being a perfectionist will be beneficial to your new endeavor by making you more motivated and pushing you to strive for success, that’s not always the case. In fact, as reported by Harvard Business Review, perfectionists have higher levels of stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression.

Stop aiming for perfection. When starting a new business, you’re bound to experience bumps in the road. If you expect them to happen, you’ll be better prepared. Mistakes don’t make you a failure — they help you learn and become a more successful entrepreneur when you overcome them.

2. Build a support system.

Building a business is difficult and you can’t do it alone. And I don’t just mean financially. Having a support system in place when you dive into your new business venture will make all the difference. If you think you already have a support system — after all, your parents and your spouse are supportive of your business — that’s great. But you also need to need to surround yourself with people who understand what you’re going through.

If you don’t have that type of support system yet, build it. Start networking with other local business owners in your area or get online and join some LinkedIn or Facebook groups for entrepreneurs.

Plus, according to Psychology Today, being a part of a group is motivating and increases feelings of warmth. This can be incredibly beneficial to you on the rocky road to starting a business.

3. Think about the long term, not just day to day.

As reported by the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, only about 50 percent of small businesses survive five years or longer. This statistic can typically be attributed to business owners getting caught up in the day-to-day minutia of the business.

Make sure to take some time each week to think about the long-term health of your business. Think about the goals you’ve set and how you’ll get there. Do you need to invest in marketing or employee development and training, for instance? Planning for the future will help ensure that your business is around for a long time.

4. Grow your skills.

As a business owner, you never stop learning. You may be starting a business because you have a lot of knowledge and experience in a field, but running a successful business requires a wide variety of skills and expertise. So, as a new business owner, you’ll need to be a jack or jill of all trades.

Spend some time growing your expertise in marketing, writing, SEO, bookkeeping, sales, general management, etc., to develop a well-rounded entrepreneurial skill set. There are a number of free resources online that can help you boost your skills. For example, HubSpot offers free courses on SEO, content marketing and more.

5. Start small.

Your biggest dream might be for your business to become a multimillion-dollar enterprise overnight, but that probably won’t be your reality — at least not immediately. Many new business owners try to do too much too soon because they think it’ll bring them success faster, but it won’t. Instead, start small and grow.

Starting small might mean bootstrapping your startup instead of trying to get a bunch of funding right out of the gate. It also might mean releasing one product or service first and getting some traction and experience instead of trying to put out an entire catalog of offerings. Starting small and giving your business time to grow will make things easier to manage.

Over to you.

Now that you’re more prepared for starting your own business, what are you waiting for? 2019 is yours for the taking. With these easy-to-follow tips, you can ensure that this year will be the year your entrepreneurial dreams come true.

This article was first published at Inc

Change the Way You Think About Your Business With These 6 Thought Exercises

By David Finkel

Many entrepreneurs have taken to wearing the same thing day in and day out to reduce decision fatigue and free up their time to focus on more important matters. Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, and the late Steve Jobs all believed in minimalist wardrobes. And while I agree the concept is a sound one, I want to challenge the idea a bit and encourage you as a business owner to mix things up, even if it’s only metaphorically.

Here at Maui Mastermind, we often teach our mastermind groups about the power of the six hats, and I want to share the concept with you today.

What Is a Hat?

In this context, a hat is not a physical piece of clothing but a state of mind. It is a tool that can be used to push the boundaries of thinking and help you grow as a group and as leaders. There are six different types of hats:

  • White Hat: The Professor or Thinker Mode. Focus: Exclusively on the objective facts, information and data without any interpretation or “story.”
  • Red Hat: The Emotional/Intuitive Hat. Focus: Exclusively on feelings, emotions, and intuition.
  • Black Hat: Your Bodyguard. Focus: Exclusively on what is wrong or could go wrong.
  • Yellow Hat: The Enthused Champion. Focus: Exclusively on how to make an idea work and looking for what’s good about a specific situation.
  • Green Hat: Your Creative Genius. Focus: Exclusively on new ideas and creating possibilities and new combinations and mixtures.
  • Blue Hat: The Organizing Hat. Focus: Exclusively on the thinking process itself and how we are recording, organizing, harnessing, and putting to work the thinking we are doing.

What Are the Benefits of the Hats?
In our mastermind group, we regularly sit down together as a team and put on a different hat. We will discuss what hat we are going to wear and explain the ground rules before sharing our ideas.

This exercise has many benefits:

  • It lets people play and relax into the fun of the hat in question.
  • It reduces people’s perceived risk in contributing to the group and helps them feel safer playing a role that they put on…it’s not “them,” only a hat they are wearing.
  • It helps people avoid arguments, which is rarely needed in masterminding and almost always detrimental and destructive. Now you can simply note all sides in parallel and move forward in your masterminding. In the rare case in which you need to choose, you lay out the map and eventually let your red hat choose.
  • It simplifies the thinking process. Rather than use all thinking styles all at once in a great big muddle, you can break out the parts and really flesh out the ideas.
  • It helps people switch thinking patterns and avoid thinking ruts.

Three Final Tips to Harness the Power of the Hats
Remember, the hats are about direction, not description…. They are about influencing the way you are behaving and thinking, not a label you put on your thinking in retrospect.

When you use a hat, make sure everyone wears the same hat at the same time (the only exception is if you want to keep a facilitator wearing the blue hat).

The hats are tools. You don’t need them all the time. You use them when you want and put them away when they become too much. Avoid living in any one particular hat.

In upcoming articles, I will dive into the differences between the six hats in greater detail.

This article was first published at Inc