Harnessing Youth Entrepreneurship in Zimbabwe: Key to a Better Future

Entrepreneurship is the key driving tool for most African economies. It facilitates effective economic growth and development for enhanced sustainability. Most young Zimbabwean entrepreneurs who strive to see a better Zimbabwe in the near future have taken this to heart.

The youth peak bulge has not spared Zimbabwe, as estimates reflect that it is probable that 60% of Zimbabwe’s national population is under the age of 30. Like many other young people in Africa, Zimbabwean youth have been challenged by the predicament of high unemployment rates and limited civic engagement opportunities, amongst other adversities.

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The informal sector dominates the Zimbabwean economy. More youth are now entering the scene with hopes of economic survival, yet the job market is not opening up enough opportunities for them. This has been lamented by many youth entrepreneurs. Despite many of them having received a good education, some are still unable to find stable, formal jobs.

Most universities are churning out more graduates than the economy can sustainably accommodate in its current state. However, many of the schools are also channeling out students who have more book knowledge than the technical skills required for self-sufficiency in the current market.

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The MY World global survey shows that in Zimbabwe most people want a good education. The sampled entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe reinforced this. They want to see an education system which explores more and delves deeper into instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in its curriculum. They wish to have an education system which is not over-reliant on job acquisition immediately following graduation, but one that instead focuses on acquiring a set of business skills which will help in the development and sustenance of entrepreneurial ventures. It is with this notion that the entrepreneurial spirit could be embraced and fueled by graduates, or within the universities’ immediate communities.

The exact unemployment rate in Zimbabwe is currently unknown, but estimates as high as 95% have been calculated for the country. Youths face an uncertain future, but for many of them hope has been rekindled with the surge of entrepreneurial ventures. The hope is to create self-employment opportunities that will lead to a constant revenue flow, allowing sustainability in line with household expectations.

The Building Bridges’ Road to Nairobi 2016 project seeks to harness the spirit of entrepreneurship within all youth to inspire hope for the future, in which effective growth and sustenance is in reach.

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Zimbabwean youth entrepreneurs face a range of challenges such as lack of financial assistance and restrictive government regulations on company registration. These difficulties hinder them from seeing their dreams as viable ventures.

Despite the many struggles that youth encounter along the way in changing the current economic landscape, they continue to shed light on the hope that entrepreneurship is key to a better future. From the exuberant energy exhibited by most entrepreneurs, it has been established that youth have the innovation and energy that is required to drive successful enterprises and entrepreneurial ventures

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Youth are characterized as vibrant, go-getters and enthusiastic, and such energy if well applied, will lead into the successful implementation of the SDGs. Zimbabwean entrepreneurs are working on challenges they identify in their communities, such as the lack of access to basic education, unaffordable healthcare, health problems due to poor cooking fuels and many more.  

The future is in the hands of youth who define and map the journey that lies ahead. It is with this notion that youth could be effectively equipped with the necessary business skills to be the ones to see through the successful implementation of the SDGs.

These are a few of the solutions to improve the entrepreneurial spirit amongst youth in Zimbabwe deduced from the hearts and minds of the surveyed entrepreneurs:

  • Terrence: Government should create an enabling environment, incentivize people through the creation of funding structures, and build a strong database for youth entrepreneurs to access mentorship who will oversee the successful running of the businesses.
  • Candice: Youth should be made aware of the beauty of entrepreneurship. People have great ideas but they can’t develop them without assistance.
  • Shaun: Government could have proxies in youth businesses to ensure that they are run sustainably. This way you can give funds and ensure they will be paid back.
  • Tinashe: Entrepreneurship should be made part of the curriculum. The youth needs to get inspired, motivated.
  • Tichaona: We need a hub for entrepreneurs. We need IT skills and to make changes through technology.
  •  Chiedza: We need a transparent government where ministers are held accountable. They should focus on advancement of the country rather than how much they can make by helping you.

Author: Kudzanai Chimhanda (Country Team Zimbabwe of the the Building Bridges Foundation)

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University Students in Thailand lead by example

23 August 2013 – Mahidol Salaya Campus
23 August 2013 – Mahidol Salaya Campus

Mahidol University students organized an exhibition on “Earth Children” inspired by MYWorld campaign on August 23.  The exhibition showcased the winners of a photo contest based on the 16 choices of MYWorld survey and it was held during the University open day where hoards of High School students visited the campus where they might study in the near future.

Since June, a dedicated team of 30 student volunteers designed a creative campaign to engage their peers and their communities inspiring them to vote for MYWorld.   At the opening ceremony Ms Sinney Khamsuwan, one of the volunteers, proudly stated “We visited many communities nearby to explain about MYWorld and gathered close to 10,000 votes, mainly offline”.

These students also produced incredible videos, shared widely through social media, to let people know, in simple words, why and how they should take part in the global MYWorld survey! Their efforts did not go unnoticed by the University. Dr. Bundhit Virajariyavej, Vice-President of Student Affairs, Mahidol University, who presided over the opening ceremony, noted “the most important aspect of this campaign is to raise awareness among the students and general public and make them feel global citizens.”

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MY World in Sudan

In Sudan, the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme is holding a number of workshops in 6 states: White Nile, Kassala, Gadarif, Blue Nile, Genina, Sinnar. The participants are coming from various national universities, such as the University of Khartoum, Jazeera University, Sudan University, Ahfad University, but also volunteer groups, NGOs, the Scouts and the Y Peer Networks. During the workshops, students and youth activists are lead through interactive sessions for raising awareness, youth empowerment, discussion on the new development agenda and promotion of the offline roll out of the MY World survey.

So far more than 1000 votes were collected; the volunteers were present in a national radio show and visited more than 4 universities. The MYWorld engagement will continue in the future, since they are planning to keep spreading the offline roll out and to engage national celebrities for the “Mark the Difference” Campaign.

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Omaima (left, Y Peer Network) and Lina (right, University of Khartoum), young volunteers voting for the world they want during a workshop on youth volunteers “My World in the post-2015 consultations” UNDP Country Office, Khartoum – Sudan, 20th May 2013 (Samah Fageer, UN Volunteer, UNV / 2013 )

College freshmen give added boost to MY World campaign in Thailand

Thailand’s Dhurakij Pundit University (DPU) held a kickoff event for incoming freshmen on July 4 and 5, bringing together new students and offering them to participate in a range of team-building activities. It was also a way of introducing students to the university’s involvement in MY World, the United Nations Global Survey.

DPU’s International College (DPUIC) gave a presentation about the MY World campaign and invited more than 1,500 new students to hear about the United Nations and many of the post-2015 development challenges facing Thailand and the rest of the world. “The beginning of a new academic year is always an exciting time for both faculty and students. This year is no exception as DPUIC has the opportunity to continue our successful partnership with MY World,” said Dominic Bone, DPUIC Assistant Dean of Student Affairs.dpuicfreshman

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UNV Jordan puts an “Eye on the Future”

Children and youth represent the future everywhere in this world –a truth more relevant now than ever, as half of the world’s population is under 25. Jordan is no exception in this respect. The Kingdom is a very young society, and the challenges that especially young Jordanians face in terms of unemployment and civic participation are steep.  However, also in Jordan young people realize they can bring positive change to their communities and to their country. A handful of these motivated Jordanians  created an initiative that aims to provide high school students the chance to make a more sustainable and informed decision regarding their studies. “We were not happy and had to chance something. So we had the idea of “Eye on the Future ”, explains Malek Abu Ghanemeh, one of the initiators. “Eye on Future” was established three years ago as an annual event and an open air carnival of experience exchange. The active exchange and the provision of information will eventually decrease the level of frustration amongst students as well as their families and lead to an overall positive effect on the community as well. Since the whole fair focused on the future of youth, it also gathered different organizations and initiatives and programs, such as “Talal Abu Ghazaleh Knowledge Society” or “Bee Academy”, all aiming to inform students for example about effective learning programs.

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Alberto Natta from Italy, Post-2015 – Assistant at the Office of the UN Resident Coordinator, collecting votes for the My World Survey at the “Eyes on the Future” Fair at University of Jordan (Rana Jarhum, UNV Programme Officer, July 7th 2013).

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Young Thai voters push two top concerns of gender equality and job opportunities

Young Thai voters.

With the aid of two dynamic partners, Thailand has amassed more than 8,000 votes in two weeks—passing more than 16,600 votes to rank sixth out of 194 countries.

Over the past two weeks, Procter and Gamble (P&G) and Dhurakij Pundit University International College (DPUIC) held back-to-back events at two major Bangkok-area high schools—each reaching more than 2,500 secondary students.

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