27 December 2012

Zambia: Are Youths Ready for the Challenge?


URGED on by the overwhelming feedback I got following from last week's article on accessing Youth Development Funds (YDF), I feel fired-up to learn that the leaders of tomorrow have appreciated this column.

The calls and emails I got from readers last week confirmed that youths are keen to share their challenges to defy the odds.

I would have loved to publish all the comments and contributions I got during the week but will do that later.

The general feedback, however, was on how youths could access the YDF and other potential funds.

Apart from accessing funding from Government, I feel the private sector also has a great responsibility to bail out the Zambian youth.

In developed nations like the United States of America and the United Kingdom, youth funding opportunities can almost be found in every corner of these nations.

Apart from having plenty of youth funding from non-governmental organisations and strong Government funding, young people with convincing projects can even approach prominent people in society like business executives and other sources in the private sector to act as capital investors.

A good example is how Mark Zuckerberg, born in 1984 and aged 20 launched his Facebook idea in 2004 with the help of Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal who invested US$500,000 in the social network Facebook.

According to Wikipedia, the founders of Yahoo Jerry Yang aged 26 and David Filo aged 28 incorporated Yahoo into a company in 1994 after they got more than US$2 million to help them in raising capital for their Yahoo venture from Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist.

And the founders of Google, Larry Page aged 23 and Sergey Brin also aged 23, got their first funding for Google as a company in the form of a $100,000 contribution from Andy Bechtolsheim, an American investor who believed in the idea the two youths shared.

These are just a few examples to do with successful funding for youth projects; otherwise there are other numerous, successful youth projects funded by individual capital investors.

The list goes on and on.

In one of the Times of Zambia editorials, it was highlighted that: "in order for youths to enjoy the beauty of being young, society must create an enabling environment free of poverty with all social amenities provided for. The importance of equipping youths with skills cannot be overemphasised."

People with money should realise that their success does not end at providing food and other needs within the confines of their houses.

Your success becomes meaningful by empowering the youth next door who in turn would empower others for the development of our nation.

The youth should, however, also prepare themselves by knowing what they want to do with their time and money.

Sometimes we misuse money entrusted to us because we are never prepared for it.

The founders of these online businesses had an idea of what they wanted to do with their time, ideas they thought would make a change, ideas they believed in and ideas that were hatched from dreaming big.

When they asked for funding, potential capital investors could not resist the temptation to fund their projects because they made a lot of sense.

The big question for the Zambian youth is whether we are prepared and have an idea that we think can make a difference to us, the people around us and our country. An idea that we feel if presented to potential capital investors would move them and make them believe in us by taking that risk of funding our projects.

During the week, I asked a few youths about what they could do with a K10 million if somebody gave it to them and the general response was that they would engage into piggery business.

This is not a bad idea but I thought it was not going with their passion of what they wanted to do in life.

It is better to do what we are good at.

We need to put on our working boots and do something rhyming with our passion - something meaningful!

We are the future, and it is up to us to be the change.

Developing ourselves starts now, never wait for tomorrow.

It is a well-known fact; however, that the youth in Zambia are faced with different challenges stretching from poverty to illiteracy, but youths should take advantage of Government youth policies, district youth training centres, the YDF and the corporate world.

In his book, Think Big, Ben Carson says: "Though we face difficulties, we should know that everything is possible:

"To Think Big and to use our talents doesn't mean we won't have difficulties along the way. We will-we all do. If we choose to see the obstacles in our path as barriers, we stop trying.

"We can't win," we moan." They won't let us win."

Let us keep dreaming big, it's only when we imagine that we create.

Put those great ideas and projects into business plans, we might never know who would want to fund them tomorrow.

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