One of these was by a successful business person – whose autobiography chronicled the long, oftentimes arduous, journey he went through from childhood, schooling, as well as the numerous ups and downs, with the hurdles encountered along the way in fulfilling his childhood dream of becoming an established business mogul.
To say I was captivated by this book would be a grave understatement – but, was thoroughly enchanted by what I regard as the most brilliant piece of writing I have had the privilege of being involved.
Without going into details on something I was not authorized to make public – however, for the purposes of this discourse, I felt compelled to highlight some of the prominent lessons I gathered from the autobiography – which are most relevant in the current obsession by the authorities in Zimbabwe, instructing recently graduated students to dive straight into setting up their own business enterprises soon after school.
Indeed, the prospects of those young men and women, barely out of their teens and experiencing the real world for the first time – immediately making loads of money for themselves and spared the headache and hassles of hunting for employment in a troubled country whose economy is on its knees – is most appealing.
Who would not desire that, especially at that impressionable age?
Yet, I find such advice rather disturbing, unwarranted and irresponsible – as this is a sure way of setting up our children for failure, and even worse headaches and hassles – since, the journey to being a successful entrepreneur can never be shortcutted, but there are stages that one needs to follow, in order to increase their prospects of achieving their desired goals.
Of course, there are always rare exceptions to any rule – however, it becomes rather reckless for anyone to portray the exception as the norm – thereby, dangerously misleading those they are supposed to be providing leadership and guidance.
Needless to say, the dream to eventually become a business person usually comes during one’s childhood – since this is oftentimes borne out of passion, rather than desperation to make ends meet due to joblessness – which needs to be cultivated through an intentional plan and strategy.
As with the acclaimed entrepreneur whose autobiography I edited, his was to take the accountant route – which he sincerely believed was the best way in molding his understanding of how businesses operated, and provided an opportunity for networking with the right people (including influential bankers, financiers, and prominent corporate leaders, all of whom he would need on his own journey).
Soon after attaining his accounting qualifications, his next port of call was fulfilling the above-mentioned strategy, whilst at the same time garnering the required experience in the corporate world – before, subsequently going his own way after years learning the business ropes.
Individual potential entrepreneurs can come up with their own strategies and plans suited to their ambitions.
In all this, it is clear that there is far much more to becoming a business mogul than merely instructing college students to ‘go and start their own businesses, and not look for jobs’.
Where are they expected to gain essential experience in whatever field they intend venturing into, without first ‘looking for jobs’?
Surely, what sense is there in telling a recent graduate from a teachers’ college to set up his or her own school, or a science graduate to form her own tech company?
I do understand that, since this severely flawed advice is largely coming from government officials, it is not given in honesty and with noble intentions – but, simply to deflect from the poor performance of the country’s economy, due to mismanagement and rampant corruption, which has resulted in record-high unemployment figures.
Nevertheless, if the country’s leaders genuinely desire a people who are business-minded – as, certainly that is how any nation on this planet grows its economy – they need to provide information that is helpful, and not misleading.
They need to stop framing their thoughts and mindsets around hiding their own incompetence and failures – but, sincerely desiring a population that is business-minded and wired for phenomenal successes.
This, however, cannot be accomplished through shortcuts – but, well planned and thought-out business strategies, which are normally inculcated during childhood, and definitely not imposed and expected to bear fruit immediately after graduation.
The propensity for being rushed or forced into business ventures – more out of desperation on account of a dysfunctional economy – has resulted in the ‘projects’ we witness today, which are characterized more by mere copycat ideas that hardly grow beyond a flee market/vending stall, or backyard/Mupedzanhamo establishment, which remain in stunted development for years (if they even survive that long, at all).
Zimbabwe now needs a new breed of Strive Masiyiwas, Trevor Ncubes, Nigel Chanakiras, and others – who have made it big – and, such phenomenal feats can never be achieved through poor planning and seemingly forced upon ideas.
If the government is serious with its agenda for encouraging entrepreneurship, then these policies need to be implemented from early childhood.
Surely, what is the point of establishing ‘innovation hubs’ at university level – yet, such innovation was never encouraged when those students were still in primary and secondary school?
Do we not witness amazing jaw-dropping inventions by very young boys and girls (barely in their teens) in other countries?
Yet, for some inexplicable reason, we still expect someone to miraculously turn into an innovator – coming up with real world-changing concepts – when already at university level.
Even Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Steve Jobs did not birth their exceptional innovative technological prowesses at Harvard University, or Reed College – in fact, they all dropped out, and never graduated – but, in their childhoods.
Let us also remember that ‘invention’ has never meant reproducing what has already been produced by others!
In a nutshell, the entrepreneurial and innovative mindset has to begin and be developed from a very early age, then nurtured through deliberate policies (both at school and home) – that will definitely see world-class business people and innovators being churned out of Zimbabwe.
- Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, researcher, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp or Call: +263715667700 | +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936, or email: [email protected]