Africa has too long suffered from pessimism of description as well as pessimism of prescription. This focus on problems and challenges obscures the importance of hope as a vital ingredient for change. Hope is a key variable driving African development through innovation and social invention. To me this is not just a theory, but a set of principles that has worked wonders in the community development initiatives that l have pioneered in Zimbabwe. Guided by a sense of possibility, I have faith in today’s young African leaders who are developing innovative solutions to daunting global challenges. I see Africa’s future being significantly determined by the emerging generation of young Africans and how they think and act today.
We are the impetus ultimately responsible for the fate of our continent. A main factor behind the high rate of youth underdevelopment in Africa is a lack of productive opportunities. A potent antidote for reducing underdevelopment is encouraging entrepreneurship, a driving force for initiating business ideas, expanding enterprises, and contributing to the development of communities.
“Entrepreneurship can unleash the economic potential of young people and provide living alternatives for them,” says Gamuchirayi Anifasi-Tagwirei, a vibrant young Zimbabwean who is a clear example of young African professionals who are taking these initiatives to higher levels with a good measure of success.
“An entrepreneurial culture is emerging in Africa, and societies that appreciate entrepreneurship and promote its values can create a dynamic and vibrant class of young entrepreneurs,” says Gamu. Empirical evidence shows that educating young minds in enterprising behavior, thus boosting confidence for calculated risk taking, increases the incidence of adopting entrepreneurship as a career option.
Guided by such an entrepreneurial spirit I collaborated with other young University of Zimbabwe students in developing a low-cost approach to boosting agricultural productivity in Zimbabwe. An important part of what we taught farmers is living in possibility, as opposed to viewing problems as insurmountable. I created this initiative to boost the productive capacity – and incomes – of poor farmers living in rural districts of Zimbabwe. Poor quality soil in many rural areas of the country is a key factor contributing to poverty, hunger, low crop production, and inadequate nutrition. With farmers in marginalized communities unable to purchase fertilizer for their crops, the initiative teaches them how to improve the quality of cattle manure through using low-cost Pelletized Phosphate Blends. Farmers acquire the basic skills needed to establish an income generating, manure manufacturing enterprise.
To date, the project has impacted more than 10,000 lives. Participating farmers report a 70% increase in incomes and greater food security, with many now able to send their children to school. This spirit of optimism, combined with a powerful vision and the will to make it happen, enabled me to serve as a community catalyst.
Africa’s development must build on the opportunities and energy that young Africans possess. Raising African leaders who understand African issues, and react in positive ways to its problems, will go a long way to ensuring a new era of hope.
(Image via Dfafie)