5 Things The Government Must Do Today To Help Entrepreneurs Become Skills-Based Enterprise Builders

Strive Masiyiwa is a London based Zimbabwean businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the founder and executive chairman of diversified international telecommunications group Econet Wireless.

Masiyiwa is a member of the Africa Progress Panel (APP), a group of ten distinguished individuals who advocate at the highest levels for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. As a Panel Member he facilitates coalition building to leverage and broker knowledge, and convenes decision-makers to influence policy for lasting change in Africa.

He has won numerous accolades and gained international recognition for his business expertise and philanthropy, and is considered one of Africa's most generous humanitarians. Masiyiwa has used his wealth to provide scholarships to over 100,000 young Africans over the past 20 years through his family foundation. He supports over 40,000 orphans with educational initiatives, as well as sponsoring students at universities in America, The United Kingdom, and China.

Masiyiwa also funds initiatives in public health and agriculture across the African continent. below is His latest advise to African nations and I think he made a lot of salient points, I hope you enjoy this article.

Strive Masiyiwa's Advice to Africa

By far the biggest employer of people in Africa is what is generally called the "informal sector." I personally don't like this title "informal," preferring something like the "entrepreneurial" sector, but the truth of the matter is that most people in Africa survive and put their kids through school, by being "self-employed" in some sort of business activity.

Whilst most of the people in this sector are generally literate, having been to school, there's very little in our education system that actually prepares them for a life running their own business.

This attitude that people must "fend for themselves" is something we need to end across Africa. Governments do have a responsibility to help create real jobs in an economy.

For those government leaders that ask for my advice, there are always five things that I recommend:

#1. Publicly acknowledge that the "informal sector" is the central activity in your country. Whether people are smallholder farmers, street traders, or tradesmen and women, don't be ashamed to acknowledge them as real economic players. They are contributing to the economy just like the biggest businesses that you have in your country.

#2. Acknowledge the importance of this sector by putting in place policies that enable them to prosper. When they prosper, they will grow, employing more people. Start by holding meetings with them which are genuinely aimed at listening, and engaging them with dignity and respect.

#3. Ensure law enforcement officials respect the informal sector. If governments don't formally recognize the key role of this sector in the economy, law enforcement may treat these entrepreneurs badly. This is what makes this sector vulnerable to corrupt officials.

Lagos residents see these things everyday, it's either a government recognized tout is battering a plantain chips trader or they are collecting taxes per sale from local informal convenience(local roadside hotspots for quick drinks, snacks, etc ).

#4. Ensure this sector enjoys real rights under the law. For example, no policeman should be allowed to arbitrarily confiscate someone's goods, without due process. Courts should be arranged (and officials trained) in such a way that they can adjudicate the needs of this sector speedily, and cost effectively.

You need to see the joyous faces of the men in black whenever it's time to loot confiscate the goods of these roadside traders. The worst of it all is while the trader are busy begging the men in black, government recognized touts will be busy scampering around for the tiniest item the men in black might have missed. This has to stop! 

#5. Introduce entrepreneurship training into the formal education curriculum. By the time someone has completed seven years of school, they should be able to put together a basic profit and loss statement, and a basic balance sheet. They should also be able to read financial statements. This is really, really simple, and not much more complicated than reading football scores!

A high school leaver must also know:

  • How to register a company, and register for tax.
  • The basic company law of their country.
  • About banks and how they operate.
  • About payroll, and laws governing the rights of others.
  • How businesses really operate, and how prosperity is generated in an economy.
  • About sustainability, of both economic growth and the environment.

I would go as far as to say that anyone who goes to a university must also have mandatory entrepreneurship training, irrespective of what they study. This is because we have university graduates that are also unemployed, who could easily create jobs for themselves and others.

Together we can help our vast army of entrepreneurs in Africa become skills-based "enterprise builders."

I strongly believe that if Africa focuses on fostering and developing entrepreneurship, there will be a remarkable uplift in job creation.

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