New Africa III – How to connect the potential of young people to private sector development

Together with a team of Dutch professionals and the young generation in Ghana, I designed a 10-years pathway towards the future of Ghana, with the young generation in a leading role.

The first steps on this pathway were taken in 2010 with an international social entrepreneurship & learning experience under the name of ‘Talent Beyond Limits’. The journey still continues in 2015 and you can follow it via the category Africa’s potential on this website.

The core of the vision is a paradigm shift in the world
Initiatives related to ‘development of Africa’ should go beyond the old paradigm where the Western world brings their standards of the ‘old’ world and dictates how African countries should develop. It is time to move beyond the ages in which we have been separating the world into ‘Western world and ‘third world’. The world is changing rapidly and needs new beliefs and thinking of all people.

Therefore, we should invest in a new generation of ideas and people through:

  • Training of entrepreneurial leaders. Talented young potentials who are committed to sustainable economic growth and sustainable development of their society.
  • Supporting these entrepreneurial leaders to grow to be influencers and transformers of society and unite with people worldwide. Bright minds and people who are equally working to make sure a shift of ‘old’ systems happens and will be replaced by alternatives that fit the future.

The why is described in Africa I – Paradigm shift and Africa II – Future visioning 2065

Connect the potential of people to the potential of private sector development
For Ghana, we believe strongly in connecting the potential of young people to the potential of private sector development and economic opportunities at a larger scale. All in a sustainable way, which means for me: development destined to last.

We see a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders rising in Ghana. Motivated and talented people, who want to contribute actively to sustainable development of their country whilst feeling connected to their authentic and community-oriented values. And develop themselves and the country based on inner strength whilst connected to their direct environment and the world.

But this new generation also faces challenges. They are the first generation in society who are connected to the online world which creates a gap with their parents. A high youth unemployment and a small and medium business sector with severe growth limitations due to lack of knowledge, capital and experience, are the biggest limitations for this generation to actually take the role of leaders. Once they started an enterprise, it is difficult to maintain or expand it. And a dysfunctional educational and NGO system, shows people an example of passivity and dependency whilst growing up. Both systems are not contributing positively to a shift.

Based on 5 years of action-oriented research, I developed a model and practical programs that connects the potential (talent) of young people to the potential of private sector development with the long term goal to built a flourishing and value-based economy. The model and programs are all based on experiential and entrepreneurial learning and executed together with local partners in Ghana.

How to guide a new generation into the future?
I tried to answer this question together with David Pwayidi, one of the participants in our programs. Based on his experiences in education from an early age and as a youth leader, we analysed the main challenges for young leaders in Africa.

David profile picture v2 David Pwayidi is ‘Project Officer’ at International Organization for Migration (IOM) since early 2015.

Africa’s greatest challenge is how to mitigate the risk that a promising generation of young people stops seeing our beloved continent as a place of possibility and progress. Losing hope easily turns into fear and growing tensions.

Africa is failing to translate its economic growth (5 per cent in 2015-2016, The WorldBank) into job creation and the broad-based development needed to reduce high poverty and rising inequality rates, the UN has said. All figures show that African youth remain almost twice as likely to be unemployed than their elders, which has resulted in massive unemployment. It is broadly known and acknowledged that a vibrant private sector is the most important vehicle for creating jobs supporting livelihood for people and communities.  So why are we failing?

Because the traditional educational methodologies provided to young people are not matching demands and needs in economy. The theoretical instruction results in deficiencies in graduates’ ability to apply knowledge or to innovate. It neglects the importance of developing a creative mindset and the significance of education as tool for personal, professional and private sector development is severely hampered.

Africa’s challenge is how to create the right environment to support young people to flourish and grow to form the foundation of economic growth and prosperity for all. Education should bring out the full potential and entrepreneurial spirit and drive of its talented youth. Education should serve Africa’s economy by providing its private sector a competitive edge through supplying it with a competent workforce, meeting their needs for industry-driven and people-oriented skills training.

David Pwayidi, Ghana & Carole Donkers, Netherlands.

The interesting aspect is that the question “How to guide a new generation into the future?” is not a challenge of Africa alone anymore. it is a challenge of the world at large. Co-creative learning together with the young generation and based on sincere human-to-human connections between people from different cultures, backgrounds and contintents, is more important than ever.

For me, Ghana is a country with enormous potential, including its people.
Since 2010, I specifically align my energy with young people, with Ghana has my ‘home’ base of travelling and meeting them. I formed my perspectives whilst feeling their life stories, looking towards the future through their eyes and interacting with them in many formal and informal situations.

Concrete outcomes of this co-creative journey with these great and potential leaders of Africa, is Talent Beyond Limits (a 21st century learning concept & methodology). More information: Talent Beyond Limits

Why I am so positive and attracted to the young generation in Ghana?
I experience young Ghanaians as emotional intelligent, fresh, talented and promising. I see them as very important contributors to a shift that is needed in the world. It is a generation of ‘local actions & global connections’. A lot of them have a great combination of characteristics, experiences and potential that is needed to be the example of leadership that the world needs desperately. The potential and inner will in young people is there and ready to thrive. That is a fact. And that is the most powerful source needed for transformations on a bigger scale. It is an honor to co-create the future together with them.