5 Steps to Be Taken Seriously As a young Entrepreneur


By Joshua Davidson


I remember the days of walking door-to-door in my home town, asking small businesses the opportunity to allow me to create for them a website. The entire first month that I began Chop Dawg, I was turned down over 100 times. Yes that is right; I kept count. It wasn’t until the very last shopping center that I talked to in my town that our first closed contract would be signed — or even acknowledged.

Being a young entrepreneur was rough at the start. Let’s face it, I was an overly excited kid with way too much hair. I couldn’t dress professionally, even if the clothes were laid out in front of me, and had a little to no track record to back myself up. To make matters worse, having a sales pitch nailed down at the beginning wasn’t even my forte either.

So how did I overcome this and end up making Chop Dawg what it is today?

1) Build a Portfolio

This is the most critical of the five steps that I am sharing with you. You need a backing, a calling card, proof that you can deliver as a first time entrepreneur to potential clients. Validation is key. You need to have a portfolio, a case study, an example of what it is that you are trying to sell that you have delivered in the past.

When I started Chop Dawg, I honestly used the fake it until you make it mentality. I had created multiple websites for my own personal benefit, for my own skillset, and knowledge growth. This ended up making the first portfolio that I would share with potential clients at the time. The thing is, I had all the confidence in the world because I honestly believed (and knew) that my stuff blew away the competition in my town. The end result? Ability to sign my first (few) clients and begin growing my business from there.

2) Build a Reputation

When you begin working with others, focus on maintaining the highest quality of customer service possible, create (or provide) the best product possible, and make sure to really learn your clients. I am not just talking about their businesses, learn about them. What do they like? What are they into? What are their passions? What can you learn from them?

When you do this, you are now building the start of your reputation. They will pass this along to their colleagues, friends, neighbors, and family and word will travel. Nothing is more powerful than word of mouth. We still use this today to bring in many of our new clients, using our existing client relationships. Hell, even the ones that aren’t referring us, we use them as a reference. It is a mutually beneficial relationship. However, you can’t just count on this. You need to over deliver to establish this trust, this relationship, and this reputation. Always go above and beyond for your clients.

3) Use the Networks of Others

Circling back from above, use the networks of your first customers to your advantage. Odds are, most entrepreneurs know other entrepreneurs. Most executives know other executives. Most sales people know others in sales. We all talk and network with one another, especially in the same verticals, when it comes to our industries. Odds are, that means they know your exact target audience, since you’re already working with them. Again, merging your reputation, portfolio, and track record with an existing customer — use this all to your benefit. Don’t forget too, name dropping people you have worked with that others would know is a huge advantage to being taken seriously.

Another shot of a young me (Joshua Davidson) back when I started Chop Dawg in 2009.

4) Dress the Part

I am not suggesting that you should be showing up to new customer meetings in a tuxedo, but don’t dress as many young individuals do. I made this mistake personally, and trust me, I probably left thousands of dollars on the table at a young age due to this costly mistake.

It is proven that when you dress well, people take you seriously, no matter how young or old that you are. I make it a point every day to always wear a button up and, at least, presentable clothing around that. Do the same. Dress how you would want people to treat you and to think of you. Show that you care about yourself as much as you care about your new business venture and your customers. First impressions are key and again, tie into all of the factors listed above.

5) Leverage Your Young Age to Your Advantage

This is honestly the most underrated aspect of being a young entrepreneur (which I miss) — people eat up a great story. Nothing was better than the free publicity that I used to get from colleagues, clients, and even the media about being a 16–18 year old entrepreneur with a thriving and growing business. People love this, because it is that classic underdog story; it is the story of someone doing something most people dream about doing. And above all, it makes a great story. Leverage this to your advantage for free advertising, free word of mouth, and free traction, which you cannot leverage later on life. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for some — use it.

Starting my company at such a young age was the greatest decision that I ever made. I never envisioned Chop Dawg to be the company that it is today, helping everyday entrepreneurs with technical ideas, and turning them into reality. With that mentioned, it was a blessing to go through a lot of the learning curves early on in life. And for those who are young and on the fence about starting, my suggestion for you is just to start. You’ll learn as you go, you will make mistakes, but most importantly, if you are a real entrepreneur, you will learn over time exactly what problems need solutions and how to monetize those solutions to turn your startup into a thriving company.


This article was first published at www.medium.com


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3 Crucial Marketing Tips For Young Entrepreneurs


By Nicolas Cole


We live in a day and age now where entrepreneurship is “cool.”

I remember being a teenager, obsessed with the World of Warcraft and online blogging, and being met with complete and total opposition when it came to building a career for myself on the Internet.

Today, digital entrepreneurship is exceedingly common.

In fact, more and more young people see the Internet as their greatest asset for turning what they love into a viable career path.

If you want to get into entrepreneurship at a young age, then here are 3 lessons that took me a while to learn—and will hopefully save you some valuable time.

1. What’s Your “Reason To Believe?”

This is a lesson I learned working at my first (and only) job out of college, a digital marketing agency in Chicago called Idea Booth.

If your product/service disappeared from the world tomorrow, what would the world be missing?

Would anyone care?

It’s a tough question, but it’s also the most important question.

Why should people pay attention to what you’re doing?

Why should people BELIEVE in you!

Successful marketing comes from having a clear vision free of rationalization. As a mentor of mine, Ron Gibori, used to tell me:

“The moment you start rationalizing with your customer, you’ve stopped selling them the dream and started selling them a product or service.”

You shouldn’t have to “convince” anyone.

People should hear your message and want what you have to offer.

Before you really start marketing what you do or whatever it is you’re selling, you have to come to some conclusion as to what you want them to BELIEVE about you.

2. Quality and then More Quality

There’s this common misconception in the digital age that what you share online should be good, but it shouldn’t be everything you know.

You shouldn’t reveal your secret recipe — that’s what people pay for!

FALSE.

The best blog posts and content pieces are the ones that walk any person through the tough questions.

They’re the ones that “bare all” and tell it exactly like it is.

Virality is not always about shock value or entertainment. It’s about REAL value.

It’s about educating a reader to the point where they feel as though you just gave them something of extreme value without them having to pay a cent for it.

This is what earns their trust and makes them willing to then become a customer or consumer in the future.

So, when marketing your product or service, over-deliver.

Give more than you should.

Share relentlessly and show people that you aren’t just selling something.

You are giving—and giving far more than is required.

3. If You Can’t Measure It, Don’t Do It.

Another saying my mentor, Ron, used to tell me all the time:

“If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.”
What this means is, you might think you have a great idea, you might love how it looks and feels and you think everyone is going to love it…

…but take a step back.

How are you going to measure its success?

And more importantly, is this effort continuing to drive the larger goal for your business?

Young entrepreneurs fall into the trap of wanting to do “everything.”

It’s a never-ending cycle of throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks.

And rarely is this approach a good idea.

It’s far better to get clear on your end goal, find ways to work towards that goal, and then put specific metrics in place that will help give you feedback as to whether or not you are moving in the right direction — or if you’re moving too slow or too fast.

Without measurement, your efforts will leave you feeling like you’re doing A LOT without getting much DONE.


This article was first published at www.artplusmarketing.com


8 Wacky Entrepreneur Stories to Inspire Your Own Business Success


By Adam Heitzman


Many entrepreneurs are known for being colorful characters, here are 8 colorful stories to help inspire your own business success.

The business world might appear buttoned-down from the outside — but in reality, it’s a lot more interesting than you might realize. Many entrepreneurs are known for being colorful characters, both at work and in their personal lives. After all, following rules and staying inside the lines doesn’t often make for business success! From winning seed money in a poker game to attempting to clone dinosaurs, here are eight unexpected things that entrepreneurs have done.

1. John Paul DeJoria Bounced Back from Homelessness

You’ve probably heard of Paul Mitchell hair products and Patrón tequila, but did you know these brands have a common origin? John Paul DeJoria co-founded both legendary companies, becoming a billionaire along the way. The path to success wasn’t always easy for him, though. DeJoria spent time on the streets twice. The first time he was homeless, he was only 22 and had a two-year-old son to care for. He persisted in his entrepreneurial vision, though, eventually co-founding John Paul Mitchell Systems with $700 in startup cash. Today, DeJoria is a philanthropist who supports a number of social causes. Among other things, he helps to provide resources to people dealing with homelessness.

2. David Daneshgar Won Startup Money by Playing Poker

What’s the quickest way to come up with $30,000? If you’re a card shark like David Daneshgar, the answer might be to sign up for a poker tournament. Daneshgar and two friends wanted to start an online marketplace connecting florists with customers, but they didn’t have startup cash. So Daneshgar — who won the World Series of Poker in 2008 — spent $1000 to enter a poker tournament. The grand prize of $30,000 was, coincidentally, just the amount of money they needed. At the end of the tense final round, Daneshgar told his friends what they wanted to hear: “It’s flower time.” They launched their business, BloomNation, soon afterwards.

3. Seth Priebatsch Took Dedication to a New Level — While Barefoot

In 2011, SCVNGR — a social app similar to FourSquare — was a $100 million company with a rather non-traditional CEO. Founder Seth Priebatsch, the self-described “chief ninja” of the company, was 22 years old at the time, and he had a habit of eschewing footwear at the office. He also sported a bright orange shirt every day and rarely went home from work, preferring to sleep in his office. Priebatsch transformed SCVNGR into a mobile payments platform called LevelUp in 2012, but he kept his title of Chief Ninja and his signature orange shirt.

4. Nicholas Berggruen Decided Not to Bother Buying a House

For most billionaire businesspeople, having more than one home is par for the course. But for years, Nicholas Berggruen avoided ever buying a house at all. He opted to live exclusively in hotels while traveling the world instead, which earned him the curious nickname of “the homeless billionaire.” Recently, though, Berggruen decided to put down some roots. He finally bought a $40 million house in 2017, perhaps wishing to give his two young children a stable place to grow up.

5. Mark Zuckerberg Killed His Own Food

In 2011, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg undertook a personal challenge to only eat meat that he killed himself. He announced this challenge to the world with his now-infamous status update, “I just killed a pig and a goat,” on May 4, 2011. Zuckerberg soon clarified that he took on the challenge in an effort to learn about sustainable farming and to consume resources more responsibly. The change wasn’t permanent, though. After the year-long challenge was over, Zuckerberg went back to buying meat at the store.

6. Clive Palmer Tried to Clone a Dinosaur

What if Jurassic Park wasn’t just a movie? Eccentric Australian businessman Clive Palmer wanted to make dinosaurs a reality through cloning, and he went so far as to discuss the idea with scientists. This happened in 2012, and since cloning techniques still haven’t advanced enough to bring back extinct species, it doesn’t look like Palmer’s dreams will be coming to fruition anytime soon. However, his love for dinosaurs abides. In 2013, he opened a theme park called Palmersaurusthat features over 160 enormous dinosaur replicas.

7. Mark Benioff Staged a Protest to Steal a Competitor’s Spotlight

Mark Benioff, one of the founders of Salesforce, is notorious for coming up with over-the-top (and sometimes inflammatory) marketing gimmicks. Most famously, he once orchestrated a fake protest at a Siebel Systems conference, complete with picket signs, chanting, and even a fake TV crew. This drummed up a lot of attention for Salesforce at his rival’s expense. On another occasion, Benioff arranged to rent an airport’s entire taxi fleet right before another Siebel event was held nearby. He then had his employees pitch Salesforce on the way to the event, much to Siebel’s displeasure.

8. Robert Klark Graham Tried to Create a Genius Sperm Bank

Robert K. Graham was an entrepreneur who invented shatter-proof lenses for eyeglasses. Today, though, he’s probably better remembered for the controversial sperm bank he started. Called the Repository for Germinal Choice, this sperm bank only accepted donations from people who were considered extraordinary in some way. Some were Nobel prize winners, some were geniuses, and some were gifted athletes. Graham’s reason for starting the sperm bank? He wanted to create a better human gene pool — a mission that did not go over well with many people, who compared his ideas to Nazi eugenics programs. The sperm bank was closed in 1999, two years after Graham’s death. It claimed to have produced 229 children during its 19 years of operation.

Wrapping Up

Entrepreneurship tends to attract people with unique minds and strong personalities, and that can make for a lot of interesting stories. Do you have any wacky entrepreneur moments of your own to share? We’d love to read your stories, whether inspiring or just plain entertaining, below!


This article was first published at www.medium.com


10 Different Ways To Encourage Youth Entrepreneurship


By Robyn D. Shulman


Social Entrepreneurs


I cover the intersection of education and entrepreneurship.


In 2010, world-renowned education and innovation expert, Sir Ken Robinson released a short animated film, titled Changing Education Paradigms. In the video, Robinson argues that our current education system stifles and anesthetizes creativity while it lowers the capacity for divergent thinking.

Robinson states, “Divergent thinking is not the same thing as creative thinking, but that it is an essential capacity for creativity.” He also refers to a paper clip study in the book Breakpoint and Beyond: Mastering the Future Today, by George Land and Beth Jarman. The paper clip study followed 1,500 kindergarten students through elementary, middle and high school.

As the students moved up through grade levels, the authors asked the question: “How many uses can you think of for a paper clip?” When the authors first proposed the question in kindergarten, 98% of students scored at genius level in divergent thinking. By the age of 10 years old, only 32% of the same group scored as high, and by age 15, only 10% remained at genius level.

Rather than developing the natural gifts of curiosity and high-level thinking, the traditional teaching model we still use today can stifle creativity, innovation, and divergent thinking.

Unfortunately, for most, our current school system does not align with 21st-century student needs, or the rapid changes we see on an economic, social, and global level.

Many parents are not aware of the misalignment between education and the unknown jobs of tomorrow. The common belief about securing a job right out of college no longer holds true. In fact, for many, college is simply not the right path. According to Student Loan Hero, Americans owe over $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, and the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt. Although unemployment rates have dropped, many Millennials work in low-paying, entry-level positions far away from their field of undergraduate studies.

Given these statistics, it is critical for all adults to pave a better road for the next generation and to encourage entrepreneurship.

If you have a young child or work with children, here are ten things you can do now to introduce entrepreneurship skills early.

Encourage divergent thinking:

Through informal discussions, ask open-ended questions, work on problem-solving, share ideas and build on learning experiences together. Teach children to question, research, and ask for further information. Ask them to take notice of things in their daily lives. For example, when they see a problem or feel frustrated about something, ask them how they would solve the issue, or make it better. Let your child guide, discover and make connections on their own. When the opportunity presents itself, practice divergent thinking at home.

Create a safe-space for ideas:

Divergent thinking is most likely to thrive in a safe environment that welcomes all types of ideas, encourages risk-taking and allows for fast failure. Kids who feel safe are more likely to share ideas, step outside of their comfort zones, and take on more challenges. You can support divergent thinking, encourage individual expression and foster creativity by building a safe space for youth.

Challenge ideas:

Encourage your children to ask why we do things in a certain way. Teach them to look at problems and find various solutions. When we make challenges, it forces us to begin thinking of alternatives.

Encourage leaders through ownership:

Praise kids for unique ideas to solving problems, and for having the confidence to share their solutions. You can also refer to their ideas with unique names such as “Stacy’s Solution” or “Anthony’s Answers.”

Build an Idea Box:

When I taught middle school, many parents asked me how to encourage innovation at home. In my classroom, I kept an empty box for students to drop idea notes. When they had an idea, figured out how to solve a problem, or noticed how to make an improvement, they wrote down their thoughts, and added them to the “Idea Box.” At the end of the week, we went through these various ideas together.

You can create an “Idea Box” at home while including the entire family. Using this strategy can encourage everyone to share new possible ventures, foster communication skills, and build confidence in a group setting.

After you’ve gone through some viable ideas, encourage kids to take action.

Provide experiences:

Take your kids to different places and let them explore. Pay attention to their natural curiosities and guide them toward those interests. As they grow, you can begin to see naturally born passions. Their creativity and innovation will come to the forefront when they participate in things they enjoy doing.

Let kids fail:

Let your children fail and teach them how to learn from their mistakes. Show them how to get back up, self-reflect on what they learned, and move on. Failure teaches kids how to be resilient in any situation, and it is critical for building self-confidence and a healthy mindset.

Financial literacy:

Schools do not teach financial literacy nearly as much as they should. Introduce money early on and give them goals and responsibilities for managing their finances. Show them the importance of saving and investing. Open a savings or checking account with them. If possible, give them an incentive to save money by offering a matching contribution.

Model positive relationships:

Entrepreneurs understand the importance of pursuing and building meaningful relationships. People like to work with and purchase goods from those they find likeable. Talk with your kids about their friendships, and focus on the importance of compassion, giving back and listening.

Communicate:

Many nights, my daughter and I chat about my work day and her school day. Through these casual conversations, she understands the power she has to go after her dreams while understanding reality at the same time. Make communication a priority as well as a safe place to talk about ideas, answer questions, and be a sounding board. Communication is key to divergent thinking, creativity, and successful entrepreneurship, and the model must start at home.

By cultivating continuous improvement in these areas, we can give children the confidence to move outside their comfort zones, provide mental tools for growth, encourage creativity and support future entrepreneurs.

Although some schools are embracing this new way of thinking, many are still far behind in the industrial age of teaching and learning. Don’t depend on a school to bring these critical skills and successful life strategies to the forefront.

Always keep the paper clip in mind. Encourage your kids to see their paper clips in many different ways throughout their school years. You may find your child is a natural born entrepreneur.

If you are interested in divergent thinking, education, creativity, and entrepreneurship, you will find tremendous value in the video below presented by RSA Animate and Sir Ken Robinson


I am honored to be named LinkedIn’s #1 Top Voice in Education, 2018. I am also the founder of EdNews Daily and the Managing Editor at Influencer Inc. In addition, I also…MORE
Honored to be named LinkedIn’s #1 Top Voice in Education, 2018. Certified K-9 and ESL teacher, Executive Editor, Influencer Inc and currently run all thought-leadership pieces for 51Talk, China.


This article was first published at www.forbes.com


You Can’t Be Normal, My Advice To African Youths.

By Jumanne Rajabu

Is it 99th or 100th? A question coming from the World Champion during his routine exercise. The trainer asked him, does it matter? It’s just one extra push-up you can always do it the next day. The World Champion look at the trainer and told him, that is the difference between World Champion and a normal fighter.

The lessons from this short story;

  1. Pushing to the limits, you have to break yourself before you start making yourself. If you can’t reach the breaking point, you haven’t reached anywhere. That extra push-up equals to; that extra research you do, that extra risk you take. that extra time you put, that extra sacrifice your offer etc. We are always ready to offer some of it or most of it but not ready to offer all. Champions offer all, they don’t shake, they don’t brink. They stay focused and determined. They wear it, they eat it and they live it.
  2. You can’t be normal, normal is for everyone, normal is for good ones, normal is for better but you always need to be at your best. You need to put your “A” game every time you have to; pitch your product; present your company, close an important deal or creating a first impression. Successful people are not normal, they don’t enjoy normal; They work double the time of opponents, they invest twice smarter and they spent time developing extraordinary abilities in their own fields; think of greatest footballers, musicians, leaders, and parents. They are not normal. They have that extra push-up.

If you live for the action you don’t settle for anything less. Most people are okay with the initial success. They relaxed and lose focus. They either remain at the same stage for years or they die. Those are the only options for “Normals”. You can’t afford to be normal if you want to be the best at what you do.

Normals are not innovative, normals are not leaders, normals are okay with the current situation and don’t want to improve. Normal hates when other people improve because they are normals. You have to push it, push it to the limit, with discipline and commitment and pray for luck. Luck doesn’t come to normals, it comes to those who are moving to become the best.

Why was I motivated to write this article? I’m coming from reviewing 54 startup companies submitted their business for an opportunity to receive investment. Going through the applications you see a lot of normals. Some have great business ideas without business models, some have great products without proper branding strategy, some have great pitch without the actual businesses. 95 percent of them couldn’t put that extra push-up to get themselves to be the best. You can’t be the best if you want to be normal. You can’t be the best if you are not prepared to be.

You always provide excuses and promise yourself to do the extra push up tomorrow. Tomorrow is for normals.

Appreciation

  • Brian Paul | Four years ago you told me the story of the World Champion.
  • My Team | For pushing yourself to the limits.

This article was first published on Medium

Local women make life better for 24 impoverished youth in Uganda

By Sam Mcneish

Sitting around Marjorie Williams’ kitchen table, the four sets of eyes gathered to share a story told all you needed to know about their tale.

Those eyes exposed the souls of the four women who have taken on a project that potentially could save generations of people in Uganda.
Their eyes lit up — and welled up — as they explained the simplest of things their efforts were able to provide for 24 impoverished youth through a group they founded called HOPE (Helping Orphans Prosper through Education).

That joy mimicked the look in the eyes of the children they are helping shown in the photos provided to The Telegram taken during a recent trip to Uganda, proving their venture is making a difference.

Started in 2015, the group, comprised of Marie Woodford, Madlyn Carew and Williams, through conversations started by Woodford, who had previously visited the region and worked with orphan children, decided something had to be done on some scale to make a difference. This group has now grown to four women, as project supporter Betty Whalen has decided to become more active in the efforts.

Another Newfoundlander – Catherine Bailey – who is from St. John’s, is also volunteering with the group and helped to co-ordinate Christmas in Uganda, packages of gifts and personal items for each of the students to receive and put to good use.

The original three travelled together in 2015 to see what they could do and during that visit purchased goats, chickens and a cow to help the village sustain itself.

In 2016, they were able to provide beds, mattresses, food, medical supplies, school supplies and additional items that were needed by these children.

“We learned very quickly you can’t just go and drop things off to these children and we needed to follow protocols to ensure they got the help we wanted to provide,’’ Williams said.

“What we do is important ­– for a child, a family, a village, a country and the world,” she added.

To make this happen, they partnered with a group called Love is the Answer (LITA), a registered Canadian charity that helps orphaned children in the manner the women sought to support them.

Catherine Koch, who is from Vancouver, lives in Uganda and is their boots on the ground at the orphanage and school.

“When I was there in 2015, I saw how dire the circumstances were for these children. I just knew I had to do something to help. They were having warm water for supper,” Woodford said.

“When I came back and started to get this organized, Madlyn and Marjorie got involved and we went back in August. We all knew we were in this for the long haul,” she added.

In addition, they found education helped them to understand there was a future for them, far greater than what the youths ever realized.

As an example, education empowers young girls in so many ways. They would not have to endure childhood marriage, rape and the traditions of female genital mutilation.

“If we broke this link for 24 children, that was 24 lives changed, 24 families changed, 24 villages changed,” Williams said.

“Education helps children break the poverty cycle, opens so many doors for them, and breaks down barriers.’’

Continued growth

They started with 10 children in 2017 and decided for 2018 they would expand their work and support 24 children in school.

A visit to the school in June and reviewing the students’ report cards showed what they were providing was working, as their grades had markedly improved.

Their efforts have seen the group be able to fund computers for the school, and sewing machines, which allowed the girls — and boys, too — to learn to be seamstresses and tailors. In addition, a library was set up in the Jinja Primary Boarding School and, during the trip in June, the group established a partnership with a doctor who does monthly check-ups on the students to ensure they are remaining healthy and offset any medical issues that arise.

“By getting them the education they need, we are helping to make a difference,” Carew said.

“You can’t take education away from them. It will help them now and long into the future to make better lives for themselves The support we are receiving (from friends and colleagues) is more than we ever expected.”

Of the 24 students, two have HIV, and many times members of the group have suffered from malaria, tuberculosis, mumps, measles, typhoid fever and worms.

“We are hoping that through early detection, the diseases will not become severe or even fatal,’’ Williams said.

“The funding for their medical needs, travel to medical centres and additional unexpected costs are now provided so they can enjoy safe, healthy and happy lives.”

The children range in age from four to 16, and the women have committed to the 13 years it will take to get them educated. In fact, the four of them are adamant there is no way they are abandoning them and will see this through just as they would with their own children.

It was that thought process, and a multitude of conversations and stories from her friends, that led Whalen into the fold.

“I had always been behind the scenes and quite easily was able to raise money to help out. Many times I didn’t need to ask and everyone around me jumped in to donate to this project for me,’’ Whalen said.
“But I wanted to do more, and this is why I am so happy to be part of this worthwhile venture.”

Whalen had tears well up in her eyes when talking about and thinking of what the children are facing.

That impact shows they have the right group to spearhead an endeavour like this.

“You look at what is being done, things like Marjorie going out and collecting glasses for the children, as at least one was suffering vision issues.”

Support from afar
The support doesn’t just stop at the front and back doors of these four women.

Williams sought support from a host of people, including someone who has deep ties to Newfoundland and Labrador.

She sent a letter to Dennis Ryan, an Irish-Canadian folk musician, best known as a member of the popular Irish-Newfoundland band Ryan’s Fancy formed in 1970 with Fergus O’Byrne and the late Dermot O’Reilly.

Williams got far more than she bargained for. Not only did she find financial support, but gained one of the biggest cheerleaders the project could have asked for in Ryan.

“What these ladies are doing, driven by Marjorie, is amazing. All they do goes directly to these kids and is making a huge difference in their lives,’’ Ryan said.

“This is a new charity, but it goes without saying I am these ladies’ No. 1 fan. I am touched and moved by this whole thing and was only too glad to help when they reached out to me.”
Ryan, along with his bandmates and friends, moved to St. John’s in 1971 to attend Memorial University.

Ryan said he was supposed to do a concert in St. John’s in December in support of HOPE, but logistics didn’t allow that to happen, so when spring arrives he will look to put something together to support the project. Details will be announced once they are in place.

“It is proof that ordinary people can accomplish extraordinary things when they put their mind to it. You don’t have to be part of a big organization to do this. Just look at what these women have done in a short period of time,” he said.

“I am so enthusiastic about this project, so much that I got on the phone and shared it with a bunch of my friends, so they could get involved too,” he added, noting those people were quick to ante up for the project.

Source Northern Pen

How can young people secure a better future for Africa?

Gerald Chirinda

With 70% of Africa’s population under the age of 30, we as a continent are presented with a great opportunity and, possibly, a great challenge. Young Africans today are taking actions that not only have an immediate impact, but will also determine the future of the continent for decades to come.

Never has there been such weighty responsibility on the shoulders of young people. Never has there been the influence in the hands of young people like the influence they carry now. But for Africa to reap the dividends she has longed for, it is up to our generation to make sure that influence is channelled correctly and directed towards relevant issues that affect not only ourselves, but generations after us. This can only be achieved if we come together as young people and begin to address the challenges before us as a continent.

The role of African youth is drastically changing, but so are some of the challenges we face, such as employability and entrepreneurship opportunities. The strength of any society is within the strength and resolve of its youth – what investment are young people making in our continent today?

In the past 6 months, I’ve listened to the argument stating that we have spent more time focused on what’s happening in other continents, like the US presidency, and less on local issues. I have had the privilege of being invited to speak at different platforms across Africa and have met and engaged with fellow young people who know less about my country Zimbabwe but more of what’s happening in the US and in Europe, and these discussions brought us to a conclusion that as a continent we have not done a good job in telling our own stories, both good and bad, affecting our people. (Could you tell us a bit about your background here – in what capacity are you listening to these arguments?) There are important matters such as the thousands of lives of fellow Africans lost at sea when trying to leave the continent for greener pastures, youth unemployment, gross mismanagement of government institutions and resources, xenophobia among our own people and the general restlessness and frustrations of young African people.

There’s no problem with us engaging in discourse at a global level, but I feel it is important for us to exert more of our time and energy on issues that affect our continent and our people. I believe if we, as youth, don’t take ownership and responsibility for our problems and challenges, we run the risk of allowing other nations, organizations and institutions to do so on their terms. My question to fellow young Africans is are we creating a future in which generations after us can be confident?

A lot has been said about Africa and its rise in the past few years. For this to be true, I believe it requires its people to also rise and drive the agenda, not wait for instruction or direction from other nations. If this doesn’t happen, Africa may still rise, but only for those with an agenda for the continent. This then begs me the question of fellow young Africans: what is our agenda, and what are we doing to shape that agenda?

With regard to employability, according to the African Development Bank report, by 2050 Africa will be home to 38 of the 40 youngest countries in the world, with median populations under 25 years of age. This will result in an estimated 10-12 million new people joining the labour force each year. These statistics clearly indicate that a considerable amount of investment must go into human development to unlock a demographic dividend. What innovative policies and programmes do we, as young people, want to make sure that this happens and that this growth will not result in a demographic time bomb for Africa?

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution upon us and the rate at which technology is advancing it is critical that we have a sufficiently educated and skilled workforce to be able to drive Africa in this direction. There is currently a mismatch between industry demands and the education curriculum. Education institutions need to update their curricula to align with the direction in which the world and Africa are going. If we ignore this, our young people will have irrelevant qualifications that the continent will be unable to benefit from.

It is worrying to note the rate at which young educated Africans are leaving to seek more opportunities abroad. The grass is not always greener on the other side, however, as leaders of other nations are also facing domestic challenges and therefore not prioritizing immigrants. If our educational institutions can include entrepreneurship as a mandatory subject at all levels of education, more young people will be better equipped to create jobs and address the issue of high unemployment.

I am a strong advocate for local solutions to local challenges, but for this to happen, we need to encourage and cultivate innovation among our youth. It is encouraging to note that there are pockets of this already taking place across the continent, where we can see uptake and use of locally-designed technology. More of this needs to happen across the board, covering the different sectors of our economies, as Africa still lags behind the rest of the world when it comes to introducing disruptive technology. Human development is about creating opportunities and building a person’s ability to innovate and be entrepreneurial. Significant investment needs to go towards this.

With the growth of the continent, it only makes sense for us to industrialize in order to be less reliant on importing products for consumption from outside the continent. According to the African Economic Outlook 2017 report, Africa’s growing population is expected to generate a rise in consumer spending from $680 billion in 2008 to $2.2 trillion in 2030. This increased spending has the potential to lead to greater prosperity.

The growth in Africa’s population presents a huge opportunity for entrepreneurial innovations and ideas to be implemented. It does, however, require strong political will to enable the right environment to be created to encourage these ideas and for entrepreneurs to be supported in their different stages of growth, from start-up, early stage and growth stage right through to becoming large corporations.

As you may notice, this article asks more questions than it provides solutions. The best way for us to answer these is if we begin to engage in conversations and dialogue amongst ourselves as young Africans and see what solutions we can come up with for a better Africa. We spend time complaining about poor leadership in our countries, but my final question is: are we ourselves prepared to succeed the generation that precedes us?

Let us intentionally create a culture that encourages the building and shaping of the Africa that we want. The change we want begins with us coming together and developing our own culture and value system for thinking, planning, implementation, accountability, integrity and collaboration. It is up to us as young Africans to shape the narrative of our continent. Let us begin to do so, in every sphere of society.

This articles was first published on World Economic Forum

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19 essential start-up tips for young entrepreneurs

By Abigail Van-West and Ian Wallis

One in five 18-34 year-olds have a business idea. And with young people nearly three times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population – the highest level in 20 years – and the volume of new companies rising each year, starting a business has rarely been more pertinent.

While the stats show youth employment – those aged 16-24 actually fell by 181,000 for the year to January 2015, the number unemployed remains close to 750,000. That’s why the number of self-employed young people has risen dramatically since the start of the economic crisis.

Starting a business won’t prove the silver bullet for all, but the support available has certainly never been so good. So, without further ado, here’s our 19-point checklist to guide ambitious and courageous young people through the start-up process.

1. Be inspired and learn from others’ mistakes.

Read the start-up stories of others on websites, in books, or at events for people starting a business. Every successful entrepreneur makes tons of mistakes and they’re often prepared to talk about them with the benefit of hindsight.

2. Get some experience.

Gain an intimate understanding of the sector you plan to launch a business into. In his early 20s Nicko Williamson, the founder of eco-friendly private car hire business Climate Cars, worked in the call centre of an established private car hire company. He learned how the business operated from the inside and discovered areas where he could make small, but critical, tweaks to differentiate what was on offer.

3. Know your customer.

Researching the market that you are thinking of entering is essential and will tell you if you are on the right track. Talk to people within your customer demographic and get an idea of how they would react to your product or service. Very few ideas are entirely original, so you may not need a non-disclosure agreement – and by asking questions about the merits of existing products or services you don’t have to divulge what you plan to do differently anyway.

4. Know your competition.

Market research also enables you to get to grips with your competition. What other products and services like yours are out there already? Not all businesses stem from a revolutionary idea and many successful businesses are borne out of an improvement to an old concept. However, you need to offer customers something noticeably better, cheaper, easier than what they are used to if you are going to draw them away from the familiar.

5. Write a business plan.

Having a great business idea does not mean you have a great business. Write a business plan to encourage yourself to evaluate your idea in detail. Use it to make realistic targets for your business and consider all the costs of setting up and sustaining your company. On this site, you can take a look at our free business plan template.

6. Find a Mentor.

Try the government-backed mentoring service http://www.mentorsme.co.uk, a free service set up to provide businesses with experienced support via a network of quality-assured mentoring organisations. Failing that, talk to people you know with experience of what you’re planning to do, attend relevant exhibitions and conferences, and speak to friends or family members who have started businesses.

7. Be lean.

Buy or download Eric Ries’ seminal book The Lean Startup. Start from home. Grow the business step by step and keep overheads to a minimum. Don’t employ before you have to. Don’t take on premises before you need to. See if there’s a market for your product or service by testing on a smaller-scale. Create a rough and ready website first (take a look at our guide to free website builders to start) and build on it. Go to friends and family, or crowdfund, for seed finance. Keep some cash in the business.

8. Don’t over-extend.

A common mistake of new companies is to believe revenues equals success. Those companies often find themselves overlooking the need for net profit and working capital. By leaving themselves without cash in the business they can quickly become unstuck, with higher fixed costs such as salaries than they can afford and debts they can no longer afford to service.

9. Research and learn for no cost.

Spend time in the British Library’s Business & IP Centre in London, which offers free access to market research reports from all the major analysts, industry guides and journals, company data, grants and intellectual property databases, workshops, resident advisers, and events. It’s an invaluable resource for anyone starting up or in the process of establishing a business and has centres around the UK in through the central libraries in Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

10. Contact support organisations.

Youth Business International provides access to financial support, mentoring and technical training through a collaborative network of partners, which in the UK includes: Start-Up Direct for talented 18-30 year-olds in Greater London; Virgin StartUp, the not-for-profit organisation to help entrepreneurs access funding, resources and advice; and UnLtd, a provider of support for social entrepreneurs which runs an award scheme to back social enterprises at seed stage.

11. Look for an accelerator.

Some major organisations have created private start-up accelerators, which often have a specific focus such as technology, finance, healthcare or eco-friendly start-ups. Many universities also offer space and support for student or local entrepreneurs keen to take advantage of the expertise available. When the time is right accelerators often have access to a network of angel and venture capital investors keen to spot the next big thing.

12. Join an Entrepreneurs’ Society at university.

Student enterprise charity NACUE (National Association of College & University Entrepreneurs) was created by members of these societies from a number of prominent universities. It received a further £1.3m in government funding in 2012 to support its initiatives and now works with 260 institutional members and enterprise societies, government and corporate partners. The organisation offers training, provides peer-support, and hosts competitions for start-up entrepreneurs.

13. Apply for the Peter Jones Enterprise Academy.

The youth enterprise organisation was set up by Dragons’ Den’s Peter Jones CBE. The academy offers a BTEC in enterprise and entrepreneurship and offers masterclasses and workshops. The academy works with around 30 UK colleges and specifically caters for teenagers and students.

14. Apply to a graduate scheme.

Entrepreneur First hosts an intensive six-month graduate programme to encourage university leavers to start a business. Apply to their scheme and receive support all the way from the development of a business idea to product launch. The scheme claims to have created 20 start-ups now worth over $100m, including Emily Brookes who started cycling laserlight product Blaze, and has funded by prominent investors such as Y Combinator, Index Ventures, and Octopus Ventures.

15. Apply for a Start Up Loan.

The government-backed Start Up Loans scheme was started to champion young entrepreneurs aged 18-24, but has broadened its remit to anyone over 18 and has a budget of £310m, with start-up loans of up to £25,000 being approved and the average loan size standing at £6,000. David Cameron’s government enterprise advisor Lord Young believed it should be the right of a start-up to secure a loan from the government and by early 2015 around £130m has been lent to 25,000 new businesses with more than half of that figure going to those aged 18-30.

16. Look for grants.

If you’re a social enterprise, organisations such as UnLtD provide awards to businesses with social aims and a solid model. The Prince’s Trustprovides practical and financial support to 13-30 year-olds who struggled at school, have been in care, have been in trouble with the law, or have been unemployed for long periods.

17. Get a name.

Find a business name that’s available and a suitable name by making a list of contenders. Then, draw four columns with headings for ‘Companies House’, ‘Domain name’, ‘Trading as’, and ‘Copyrighted’. Work through your list to find one available in every column. There are common name types, so think laterally about what you can call your business: 1. Something that says what you do (e.g. Shout Media); 2. Your name (e.g. Smith & Jones PR); 3. Something conceptual (e.g. Fizarro.com); 4. A play on words (e.g. A Cut Above). Try different combinations and see which one fits and makes a statement about your business. It is important to choose a name that will be easily remembered by your customers. Once you have the name, it’s time to build your website.

18. Design a business logo.

A well-designed, relevant logo can have an instant impact on your customers and leave a lasting impression. It is important to choose a logo that suits the tone and role of your business and to have a clear idea of the message you want to convey before approaching a designer.

19. Promote your company.

Hiring an expensive PR company can come later, but for now it is important to self-promote in every way possible. Social media is an essential tool for this, so get to grips with how to use sites such as Facebook and Twitter to maximum effect. Entering competitions can also help to get your company noticed and branding yourself as an award-winning company is a great way to appeal to customers.

This article was first published on Startups.

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6 ways to successfully engage youths in peace building

By Manola De Vos

Today, more than 1.5 billion people live in countries affected by fragility and conflict — a majority of which is under the age of 30.

These numbers alone justify the inclusion and consideration of youths in policymaking and planning. But in practice, the meaningful participation of young people in peace building has been hindered by discourses that overwhelmingly depict youths as victims or villains.

Fortunately, recent times have witnessed a gradual shift in paradigm. In a concerted effort to promote youths as active leaders and partners in peace processes, the United Nations, Search for Common Ground, and myriad nongovernmental organizations recently launched the Guiding Principles on Young People’s Participation in Peacebuilding, which offer guidance to key stakeholders on meaningful youth engagement in conflict or transition settings. And as recognition of the positive role youths can play in peace building grows, operational guidelines on how to apply the principles will be published later this year.

So how can organizations leverage youth engagement to uproot violence inherent in their communities and countries? Devex asked four youth activists and experts to share some best practices that development leaders — particularly program designers and managers — can apply to give young people the opportunities they need to become agents of peace.

Create spaces for youths to express their opinions — and listen to them

Rather than simply acknowledging them as victims or perpetrators of violence, it’s vital to engage youths as social actors with their own views and contributions.

“Youth voices in peace building are present everywhere, but sometimes not recognized,” Matilda Flemming, leading coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders, told Devex. “The creation of spaces for youth to express their opinion to decision-makers and broader society ensures that they have the opportunity to be heard.”

In practice, this can be done by encouraging both youth and adults — parents, teachers, nonprofit workers, or community and religious leaders — to support the formation of youth groups that offer young people a chance to formulate their opinions.

Information and communication technology such as UNICEF’s U-report — a free SMS-based platform through which youths can express their views on what is happening in their communities — also offer some promising spaces of expression for meaningful youth participation in peace building.

Enhance the peace-building knowledge and skills of young people

Although most young peace builders create positive impact with minimal resources, it’s important to provide them with the tools they need to become more effective change-makers.

In concrete terms, this means giving them access to the teachers, facilitators, educational programs and networks that can hone their conflict resolution and leadership skills.

“Training opportunities can range from content-based topics such as conflict or gender to more practical-focused areas such as advocacy or project management,” Dylan Jones, project and gender officer at UNOY Peacebuilders underlined. “By facilitating youth connecting on individual and organizational levels, ideas, challenges and best practices can be organically shared.”

Some of the most successful interventions also find ways to leverage youth interests — arts, sports, media, informal learning and personal relationships — to teach peace-building skills. For instance, Mercy Corps found that youths are more likely to remember conflict management lessons they’ve learned through sports.

Build trust between youths and governments

Youth mobilization in peace-building efforts is more likely to be successful if young people are given the capabilities and opportunities to work with local and national governments.

With few constructive avenues to influence local and national politics, young people tend to view governments as beset by corruption. Conversely, governments often fail to take into account the views of youths in policymaking, and may have different priorities for peace.

To close the gap, activities that promote the legitimization of youths and foster their representation in local and national policymaking processes are crucial, according to Piet Vroeg, child and education director at Cordaid. As such, joint workshops, community projects or platforms can all help bridge the divide between youths and government officials. It’s also important to encourage young people to learn about national or regional peace priorities while helping them work toward their own peace priorities.

As an example, dozens of local youth councils were established in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring revolution in Tunisia — an initiative that has fostered newfound confidence between youths and local politicians.

“Now, after a couple of years, the youth councils have gained the trust of local government authorities, to the point that when it’s time to decide on the local budgets, these youth councils are being consulted to see if the budget make sense,” Saji Prelis, director for children and youth programs at Search for Common Ground, highlighted.

Promote intergenerational exchange

Rather than working with youths in isolation, peace-building projects seeking the engagement of youths should also include parents and elders.

“Young people alone by no means have the answers to the challenges the world and communities around the world are facing. Neither do older generations. By bringing together the vision of young people today, and the experience of older generations, new answers to challenges are created.” — Matilda Flemming, leading coordinator at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders

Youths are deeply influenced by the attitudes of their entourage. Yet adults might perceive youth-led initiatives as a threat to their own power and position. This points to the need for youth peace-building projects to be accompanied by dialogue and cooperation between young people, their relatives and community elders.

“Seek more inclusive means for young people to express themselves and participate in awareness-raising among the wider population,” Vroeg suggested.

Through partnerships with community groups and elder councils, youths can demonstrate the benefits of their peace actions. Such communication and collaboration channels also enable young people and adults to explore the common problems they face and to tackle them together, thus participating in the emergence of sustainable solutions.

“Young people alone by no means have the answers to the challenges the world and communities around the world are facing. Neither do older generations. By bringing together the vision of young people today, and the experience of older generations, new answers to challenges are created,” Flemming underlined.

Strengthen monitoring and evaluation

While efficiencies can always be found, monitoring and evaluation activities need to be undertaken, improved and made routine across all peace-building initiatives capitalizing on youth engagement.

Suffering from a chronic lack of financial support, youth peace-building activities often have very limited ability to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of their work — a situation that seriously impedes the visibility and sustainability of their initiatives.

But beyond increased financial support, innovative approaches to evaluate the impact of youth engagement in conflict resolution must be used — particularly those that build on qualitative evidence and participative approaches.

“Surveys, focus groups and interviews are considered as the gold standard of inquiry, but those are adult methods of articulating evidence and showcasing impact, which ultimately benefit only adults,” Pralis told Devex. “Instead, we should make evaluation conversational and youth-led, as this works for everybody.”

The evaluation process recently started by the Nepal Partnership for Children and Youth in Peacebuilding — a coalition of local youth groups and international organizations — is particularly illustrative. It allows young people to take an active role in determining evaluation design, data collection methods and information analyses.

Support youths who are positively contributing to their communities.

Finally, it’s crucial to avoid rewarding “bad behavior” by incentivizing young people who are positively contributing to their communities.

Current youth programming focuses much of its attention on young individuals who were troublemakers or soldiers. This effectively rewards youths for joining armed groups — or is at least perceived as doing so by local communities.

“In general, young people feel marginalized and their voices are not heard or trusted as credible. But when they commit violence, the international community rushes in,” Prelis noted. “We have to be more conscious, cautious and thoughtful in our approach to youth engagement and avoid sending the message that we only care about you when you cause harm.”

Simple rewarding systems such as certificates, prizes and scholarships can serve as great incentives for youth. They can also inspire their peers to take action and participate in peace programs.

Further, try to situate your organization’s programming for young people within larger peacebuilding efforts. Without comprehensive efforts to change the underlying factors that contributed to war in the first place, youths might feel that their efforts are in vain.

This articles was first published on Youthwill Build Peace

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Kenya: With support, the youth have great future in farming

By JULIUS SIGEI

Annett Günther is the new German ambassador to Kenya. She is also accredited to the Seychelles and Somalia as well as the Permanent Representative to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and to the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT) in Nairobi. She spoke to Julius Sigei

Germany is involved in many agricultural projects in Kenya. What are your priority areas?

A major part of our bilateral engagement is, of course, development co-operation. At present we are focusing on the areas of agriculture and technical and vocational training.

Our main goal is to contribute to tackling youth unemployment and to enhancing productivity in the agricultural sector, by supporting young agro-entrepreneurs.

We see agriculture as one of the areas with great potential for the economic development of Kenya. And our work is very much in line with the goals of the Big 4 Agenda, especially with regard to food security and manufacturing.

How do we make farming cool?

The farming population is ageing and the young people don’t want to go into farming. They need to know you don’t have to be behind the plough to make money from farming.

We want to focus on young agriculture entrepreneurs: Providing them with necessary skills as well as offering small support grants.

We recently met a young man in western Kenya who is doing well, selling sweet potato seedlings. With a little support he can diversify into other crops.

I also met another group of young farmers who are in a co-operative and milling different kinds of cereals. Farming has a huge potential to employ youth.

What does the government need to do to make agriculture more productive?

It may need to put in place policies to put on hold land subdivision beyond agricultural viability. And it also needs to engage the private sector.

President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big 4 agenda is a step in the right direction, but Kenya cannot do it alone. Money has to come from somewhere.

The government needs to ensure a conducive environment so as to attract foreign investment. Kenya offers an attractive combination of a growing economic infrastructure, favourable legal framework, a stable political environment and access to the continent’s largest economic area.

Kenya is indeed the economic centre in the East African region with a strategic location when it comes to access. This is why it also enjoys the status of a lower middle-income country.

The interest of German investors in Kenya has grown steadily in recent years.

Which other youth-related areas will you give priority?

Within our development co-operation, we would like to support the upgrade of three existing Training and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) centres in the greater Nairobi, both in terms of equipment as well as teaching and curricula development.

Several companies have already committed themselves to work within this project. The aim is to bring training and practice closer together to improve young people’s employability.

In Germany we have made very good experience with such a “dual system” where young people go to school even as they are attached to companies to gain experience and also earn something.

Source – Daily Nation