If you saw a young boy dying in a gutter, would you walk past and ignore him or would you do something to help him? Would you stand there and theorise about it?
The same principle has been applied to assess the Entrepreneurial opportunities for youth that are failing to gain employment due to the high unemployment rate of 86% in Zimbabwe. Many industrial companies are now non-existent with a large influx of University graduates onto the local market. Many have left the country. Why have they left, the mentality of being an employee rather than an employer? , The hustles of starting a business? , The lack of availability of financial stimulus? , No having an enterprising spirit? Or being an entrepreneur was never an option? Many can give justification of their decision but in the type of economy we live in, is there really an option? Many dreams are being crushed under the numbing economic situation induced by lack of healthy export relations, trade restrictions and the nature of our exports (Primary goods). All these are facts youths have to contend with on a daily basis. The question is “What are we as Youth, doing to better our current lives and future?” because not all youths can afford to pay tuition to attend university and acquire notable qualifications and skillsets. Not all will get jobs after graduating. The solution is Entrepreneurship.
What is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is a person who sees opportunity where everyone else sees nothing, a risk-taker. Someone not functionally bound by qualification. In Zimbabwe we are blessed with entrepreneurs such as Tsitsi Mutendi, Prechard Mhako, Sidney Chirombo and Faith Mawande, who have managed to develop their brands by finding their niche in the market.
When referred to as an entrepreneur there are certain qualities such as leadership, initiative and innovation in manufacturing, delivery, and/or services provided, that will determine how successful you will be in your business venture. A key but not so talked about requirement is that as a young entrepreneur, profit should not be your number one priority but by realising the necessity of the need, should guide you on how you can add value to your product/service. Warren Buffet quotes “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Rather focus more on delivering end products/services to gain credibility and have the confidence of your clientele. Reputation is paramount in any mode of operation as it is directly linked to your accrual of social capital. Business Etiquette may seem like a mouthful, but in reality by interpretation, it is politeness.
There are endless opportunities that may pass you by if the above is not taken into consideration as new companies are formed everyday by young business owners; however as young entrepreneurs principles should not be discarded but should be made flexible to guide the attainment of your personal goals for sustainable growth.
Setting feasible goals can determine if your business is a worthy investment in terms of your time and efforts. This also allows short-term and long-term assessment of strategies for effective market penetration and brand awareness campaigns.
Packaging your brand or product enables you to add value based on market research and the identification of your niche as a product/service provider. Clear brand distinctions from competitors should be one of your goals. No all businesses are completely new. Some are re-engineered models of already existent businesses. For example let’s look at our telecommunications providers. What will determine which provider you will choose between Netone, Econet or Telecel? They all provide the same services, yes? But all have a specific way in which these services are provided, which fits to their target market. The choosing is left up to you based on your preferences. What they would have effectively done is that they would have turned you into their product. You would have chosen their services based on how they have optimised their system and how it relates to your personal preferences as a customer. Same applies to all social media platforms. You choose them based on preferences. Would have liked to explain further but this is not the moral of the article.
The muse behind Africa as a continent is that there is still a lot that need to be done. Development has not yet reached the level of some countries such as the United States of America hence as young entrepreneurs there is always something new to implement. My favourite saying in business is that “There is nothing new under the sun.” Why should I reinvent the wheel whilst I can make it better? Being successful in Africa is only inevitable. The foundation has been left by our forefathers for us to build on. Time is only a momentary element that changes in intellectual capacity and ability. This is our time to thrive as young business people in our communities.
For individuals thinking about coming into the entrepreneurship game, the message is simple. There are certain constraints that are making you hesitate but the truth of the matter is the first thing that might come to your mind is “Do I need a large sum of money to begin my exploits?” Not forgetting that there are vast arrays of activities an entrepreneur can engage in, you do not need tons of money to begin. The biggest investment will be your skill and technical knowhow of your product/service and that to most entrepreneurs is a priceless commodity.
The last thing is getting an advisory board or mentor. A team trying to score a goal may score but after many misses if there is no guidance (mentor, coach), who is experienced in the art of reaching set goals. The mentor must have had success in other business ventures and have adequate experience and knowledge to match what you want to achieve as a business. The time you spend learning never ends, it is constant. From self-improvement, social media, business management etc. A multi-talented individual you will have to be. No every venture is started with all positions filled. Sometimes you have to start alone and then grow with time.
In concluding, remember that your dream is your brand and no one can ever make your dream their dream because you know your point of execution. Keep dreaming and keep your enterprising spirit high. The youth are here to stay. Let’s develop and innovate our beloved Zimbabwe and Africa at large.
Jermaine James Chapfiwa
Secretary for Entrepreneurship Development and Agriculture
Organisation of African Youth (Youth Executive Committee)