Raising a New Generation of Leaders in Africa

Raising a New Generation of Leaders in Africa

Wharton School of Business had an interesting interview they posted last month. You can listen to the entire interview here.

Any time you undergo a large vision project, you must have a strong leadership development program. Military, politics, business, teachers, all of these occupations must be taught, trained, and developed.

The same goes for business leaders. We need all hands on deck to create a leadership pipeline for Africa. This is especially true in the entrepreneur community, and especially for women seeking to start businesses.

Yawa Hansen-Quao, says in her interview:

There is a strong push towards entrepreneurship partly because there’s such a high unemployment rate. There are so many people chasing jobs that are just nonexistent at the moment. Out of necessity, people are forced to look at an entrepreneurial pathway for their careers. I think that there has also been a lot of romanticization of entrepreneurs. There’s a sense that, "I will also start in my garage, and I will be the next [Facebook co-founder Mark] Zuckerberg."

There are a lot of factors that are making people inclined to take the entrepreneurial path. I think for women, it’s partly because of the social burden of child care. They get married, they have children, a lot of the responsibility for their homes falls on them. It’s actually an easier thing to manage, alongside their families, as opposed to the structured world of work where they need to be in a certain place at a specific time. Taking the entrepreneurial pathway provides flexibility that a lot of women look for.

We’ve found that a good leadership pipeline contains:

  • Organized teaching and training on culture. If your culture doesn’t promote the right thinking, you won’t be able to become anything outside of it. So you have to address your thinking.
  • Consistent mentorship centered around the skill-sets needed to build a business.
  • Group collaboration and accountability (this happens in our world via regularly held Pitch Night meetings).
  • Opportunities to thrive after the teaching, training, mentoring, and growth.

This is where things invariably break down for many in their thinking. If the road gets tough, then I can’t continue down this path. We hear it all the time. “I just don’t have any opportunities.” You have to be positioned for opportunities in order to obtain them.

This may require a job that’s “beneath you" for a time in order to learn the skills you need to take advantage of an opportunity.

This is not romantic work. It requires a vision, determination, a calling, and honesty with yourself, your idea, and the path you’ve chosen. Then, after all of that work and preparation, you may stumble into a bit of “luck."

photo via (lenny k)