Youth: The key to optimism about the future

Did you come across Bill Gates’ post on LinkedIn of last Monday? If not, you may want to read it: “My message to the next generation of Africans.” The essence of his message resonated quite well with me: a message of optimism about Africa’s future that is based on a young population, and a youthful mentality – the title of one of my earlier posts; actually, one of my favorite ones!

Let me share one quote from Gates: “Economists talk about the demographic dividend and the potential for Africa’s burgeoning youth population to accelerate economic growth. But for me, the most important thing about young people is the way their minds work.”

Young population is the future of Africa
African youth: full of energy!

Yes! African youth is full of entrepreneurial initiative. I won’t say that cuts across all people from all countries. In fact there are striking differences, as this funny story shows:

A Kenyan entrepreneur started a student housing business in a neighboring country (I prefer not to say which one). She needed to equip the facilities: table cloths, linen, etc. A first order was placed to a local seamstress. The job was well done, so a second order was placed. Next time, the entrepreneur didn’t find the seamstress. She went back another day, and another… finally, she asked the person at the next store: the seamstress had moved to another location because she was getting too much work! The entrepreneur was astonished: this would have never happened in Kenya!

In contrast, plenty of other stories show the creativity and entrepreneurial thrive that the African youthful mentality releases. Just a few examples:

Our shared optimism is not blind. As Gates says, “positive change across Africa won’t happen automatically. The real returns will come only if Africans can unleash this talent for innovation in all of the continent’s growing population. That depends on whether all of its young people are given the opportunity to thrive.”

What a fascinating challenge!

Would you like to share any other entrepreneurial initiative born in the continent?

Related Posts

8 thoughts on “Youth: The key to optimism about the future

    1. Hello Walking Dead Fans Loud,
      I can’t but agree with the comment that youth has opportunities thanks to the older generation. I commented about the value of age diversity in another post:
      More than youth per se, I want to emphasize the youthful mentality: some young people approach life like if they were the old generation, while some old people have a youthful mentality. I find the former to be the case os some Europens, and the latter that of some Africans. If you combine young age and youthful mentality, you’re in great shape to transform a coutry!

  1. Interesting, Africa! In early 2000s, I studied South African (SA) investment banks and western banks operating in sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, I wanted to know how this sector, often driven by shareholder interests, managed employees, HRM, so as to meet their working standards (e.g. work efficiency … communication, speedy etc..). I found was that the SA used a popular term of Ubuntu to mobilize and manage its employees toward work efficiency and accountability. I also came to find that the Ubuntu term was used as a trade mark to Africanize the sector. Unlike the western banks, when it came to promotion, however the SA looked at the elders/older male and female first whom they believed to have youthful mentality to bring about unity and a sense of community. It actually worked very well! Western banks emphasized competence and merit. When it came to employee turnovers, the SA banks had very low or zero turnover though they did not pay higher salaries compared to the western banks (which had very high turn over!). Investing on the youth is critical. Countries such as Botswana and Mauritius have done a great job on the youth. Hence, they do not have a huge ‘brain drain’. Other countries like Tanzania and Rwanda are not grappling with the idea of investing more on the youth … blending between technology and entrepreneurships, and self-employment.

    Thanks again, Africa, for your refreshing discussion.

    1. What an interesting story, Aloys! Thanks for sharing it. In the West, we’re letting experience go wasted too often…

    1. The entrepreneurial energy that I have seen in Nigeria is amazing. Kenyans are very entrepreneurial as well, but Nigerinas are really amazing!

Comments are closed.