Washington — Born in Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo, Adon Madi grew up and went to school in London, earning a university degree in economics in 2011. He could have stayed on in the United Kingdom and enjoyed the pleasures of having a high-paying, permanent job.
Instead, he chose to take on some of the challenges that the Republic of the Congo faces. "I caught a vision to bring change to youth in Congo," he said.
In 2012, Madi was selected to be one of his country's representatives to the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) meeting in the United States. "The YALI program was the never-to-be-forgotten experience," the 26-year-old said. "The program gave me an unprecedented honor to represent my country on the world stage at the highest level."
Madi said YALI "enabled me to think and strategize in the world of business. It brought to light the importance of blending initiative, self-confidence and intelligence. ... I forged interesting relationships, made vital connections and met people with different entrepreneurial visions."
"Despite coming from different entrepreneurial backgrounds," Madi said, "we all have one thing in common -- a burning desire to make a difference and create a better world. This is my goal as a young business leader."
In less than a year, Madi developed a business concept, acquired job skills training, raised seed capital, started a commercial and industrial cleaning business and hired 40 youth. His business now operates in three major cities -- Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire and Dolisie -- and has expanded to serve both private and public sectors in the form of street cleaning, refuse collection and providing public waste bins. The young entrepreneur so far has trained upwards of 200 workers and soon will employ 90 people.
Madi says his business, National Express Cleaning, has been successful because it meets corporate clients' demands for service "that rivals the standards available in the West."
"This concept is undoubtedly benefiting the community by expanding employment opportunities to a large segment of the population as well as improving health and environmental standards," he said. He hopes to develop a culture of recycling in the Congo and to provide more youth with much-needed employment.
"I have been able to create a small social movement around my business because my vision helps solve the social issue [of youth unemployment]," he stated.
"Entrepreneurship is not always about money," Madi continued. "Rather, it starts with a desire to create a better world. Anyone who dares to dream, to develop new ideas ... and be able to network is undoubtedly an entrepreneur," he said.
"My challenge is to light the candles of entrepreneurship among the young generation here in Congo. I'm still trying to reach the top of the mountain, but I will surely get there."