2016 CU-ICADI: AYES Founder Urges Africa to Invest In Entrepreneurs
The President and Founder of Africa’s Young Entrepreneurs, South Africa, Mr. Summy Francis, has tasked governments across Africa to invest in entrepreneurs as a company or a nation cannot make progress unless it focuses on its strength.
An entrepreneur is an individual who, rather than working as an employee, runs a small business and assumes all the risks and rewards of a given business venture, idea, or good or service offered for sale.
Speaking at the 2016 Covenant University-International Conference on African Development Issues, whose main theme was ‘Driving Inclusive and Sustainable Development in Africa: Models, Methods and Policies, Francis, who was one of the speakers at the three-day event, said “Developing Africa without entrepreneurs is like going to war without soldiers”.
The AYES leader, whose lecture was entitled ‘Using Entrepreneur Innovation as Catalyst in the Development of Africa’, said Africa has better potentials than other continents, but the continent has been weighed down by many challenges.
“We have bigger strength that other continents do not have in spite of the bad governance, corruption and leadership challenge among others,” he said. “However, entrepreneurs are national assets, you cannot use your weakness to overcome your strength but you can use your strength to overcome your weakness.”
Francis, who saluted the industry and the determination in the average African, impressed it on African nations to create an enabling environment for entrepreneurs in terms of financial aid and infrastructure, which would help them in their businesses as Nigeria, for instance, like China, has a very big buying population that entrepreneurs could take advantage of.
“An average entrepreneur will survive anywhere,” he said. “When I started I had little or nothing selling things like sweet, pain healers and others”
Apparently unimpressed with the way State Governors in Nigeria junket to Abuja to collect allocations on a monthly basis, Francis averred that the situation would be different if the governors had the experience of an entrepreneur.
“I imagine a situation whereby the Federal Government will stop giving allocations to the State Governments. Then only entrepreneurs you would see coming out to contest governorship elections because they have the business sense to make money for the states,” he asserted.
Entrepreneurship, he argued, can be used to solve societal problems like armed robbery, kidnapping and insecurity generally. According to him, “If supported, an entrepreneur can create a business worth $4 billion like Mark Zuckerberg, the owner of social media platform, Facebook”.
Uber, an American multinational online transportation network company, said Francis, has created about 4.2 million jobs, but unlike in America and in Europe, the encouragement is rarely there. “I’m sure if Dr. David Oyedepo had gone to a bank for a loan to help him build Covenant University, they would say it can’t work,” he said.
Citing the qualities inherent in an entrepreneur, he said “Where people see challenges, entrepreneurs see opportunities. Education is the key to success, entrepreneur is the door itself”.
On how Africans can use entrepreneurship to develop the continent, he stated that, “Governments should make entrepreneurship a priority in universities and they should support it. Governments must ensure their policies are entrepreneurship friendly and involve entrepreneurs in governance.
“Governments must ensure natural growth of local industries by kicking against hiring engineers from outside Africa. They should never take for granted small businesses and help tackle financial challenge facing potential entrepreneurs.”