The act of pursuing novel enterprises and building new businesses is the fundamental engine of prosperity. Despite this fact, many people in Africa do not regard entrepreneurship as a legitimate career path. By rethinking the popular conception of entrepreneurship, and highlighting its importance, I think this misconception could and absolutely should be changed.
So what is entrepreneurship? Some people use this term to describe the activity of small businesses and start ups, but I define entrepreneurship as any venture that involves taking risks in order to generate profit from an enterprise.
By this definition, Africa actually has a very large number of entrepreneurs who function in the informal sector of the economy. Some estimates show that more than 80% of the working population function in the informal sector, thus the economy is already boosted by many informal entrepreneurs.
The Real Issue
The problem is that while there are many people engaged in entrepreneurial activity, the impetus for their
activity is not enterprise or ambition, but rather in many cases simple desperation in response to circumstance. These entrepreneurs are pursuing temporary or stop-gap maneuvers- if they had a decent wage job somewhere, they wouldn't even think of becoming entrepreneurs. In the same way, even though they may currently be entrepreneurs, they would leave entrepreneurship if given a new job opportunity. I think more than 75% of entrepreneurs in Africa would tell you that they started their ventures simply because there were no jobs.
This kind of attitude becomes a barrier to the growth of these ventures on the continent. This is because the owners of these ventures do not have any vision for their ventures, and thus never invest in growing their enterprise through activities like market research. Even when resources are freely available for entrepreneurs to gain skills in their craft, nobody shows up. Everything is informally done, often without documentation, thus these ventures have limited access to financing for development. All the while, jobs remain scarce and people seldom get employed.
Entrepreneurship must be fundamentally re-conceived in the popular Zeitgeist of Africa. People need to be taught entrepreneurial skills and be motivated towards entrepreneurship right from a young age. A sense of the value of entrepreneurship needs to be embued with students by high school in order for young people to see it as a truly viable career path.
Right now in Africa, conferences need to be done to teach entrepreneurs the various ways they can develop their entrepreneurial ventures and gain an enjoying fulfilling life from them.
Entrepreneurship, being an important part of development, should be a career path that is recognized and respected on the African continent; giving young people both the mind-set and the skills to achieve progress.
You may also read about the necessary courses that could be found in the entrepreneurial career course at www.actentrepreneur.blogspot.com