Malawian youth have for long been either treated as fumbling children that cannot be entrusted with any responsibility and must thus be educated to be relied upon, or have unfortunately fallen victim to political propaganda to keep the ‘Big Man’ in power.
However, in the past decade an ever increasing number of the youth has begun to realize his/her significance in the national agenda and has taken it upon themselves to develop self and thereafter the people around them.
At Umwana, changing the dependency mindset of the youth to one of an agent of development is one of our goals. We have come together as group of young people to take the lead in directing our fellow youth in the direction that would ensure their personal economic development and subsequent the development of their communities.
One pressing issue of the youth is income generation… the money. In one way or another the young man and lady in Malawi, Zambia and indeed sub-Saharan Africa is primarily concerned with how to make money and for a sustainable livelihood. However, the opportunities available for the African youth in the past towards such a pursuit have been slim, with primary emphasis being placed on education – to get a job!
In today’s global village, where fortunes are being made overnight and dreams are being actualized, the African youth still lags in terms of how they can grasp their dream and achieve it. The world is signing the entrepreneurship song as a means of economic growth and job creation and yet the Malawian youth does not even have the appropriate environment to flourish in this regard.
There is also the danger that the road to entrepreneurship may be misinterpreted by the desperate youth who would abandon their pursuit of education in search of more instant riches.
Umwana through the Youth Capacity Building and Mentorship (YOUCAB) Program is shedding more light on this issue among several others as it affects the Malawian and Zambian youth in their local contexts. The secondary school component of the program, on this issue, emphasizes on the need for an educated entrepreneur (at least completed secondary school) being optimal to sustainable development. As education is a key that allows the youth to think and interact on an elevated level which would ensure that any entrepreneurship endeavor taken would be managed in a similar manner.
However, there is need of a holistic sectoral approach to this kind of initiative. Support from the public sector for the fostering of an entrepreneurship environment and from the private sector for the aid of innovations that address social needs in a new way is crucial.
The youth is intelligible, hard working and resilient. The nation needs to realize and attempt to harness these core competences while directing them towards national development agendas that must reflect youth interests while still considering ‘glocal’ realities. It is only at this stage, where we will find economic growth and development chasing us as a nation and not vice-versa.
Umwana and YOUCAB will be here and continue fostering a change of attitude in the youth and together we will incite change for development.