April 15, 2019, will hopefully mark the day a new phrase enters popular discourse about how our economic futures could play out. The term “4th Industrial Revolution” has come to embody the conversation around the future of supply-side of the jobs debate -skills and education. We hope to drive new research, discussion and policy around the demand-side of employment by deeply exploring entrepreneurship as a career -particularly for students of high potential. What if skilled students with options chose an entrepreneurship path and hired their friends and peers along the way? What does Africa’s youth employment situation look like if it happens?
The Anzisha Scenario campaign concept was born after heated discussions and exchanges internally in response to a research paper that was released in 2018, and the resulting coverage it got in the media. The research took a position that older founders in the US have been more successful as entrepreneurs generally, and particularly when it comes to
I had a particularly strong reaction to the report. It’s not that the research is wrong (it isn’t), it’s that it:
- Is pretty obvious. Prior work, life
andmanagement experience should make you a better entrepreneur when you’re older, in the same wayit should make you a more successful manager or leader within an existing business.
- Inadvertently positions the problem of youth unemployment as largely unsolvable by young people themselves. But with not enough job opportunities to start with,
ifonlypeople with 15 years + experience can create other jobs, we’re in a heap of trouble.
- Is quickly supported by those who have followed traditional education and career pathways, crowding out other experience pathways as less legitimate. Anyone who got a great degree, and then worked for a great company, is immediately validated and pre-qualified as a better scale entrepreneur through formal training. Few have that opportunity.
Having had this research kick off some of our own thinking, we started to look at our own evidence and work. And this then became the next driver of investing in a campaign as a pan-African, inclusive, multi-stakeholder scenario planning exercise.
- We have seen time and again young entrepreneurs start out from the very youngest of
ages,and slowly build careers –in the same wayany other career professional would. Those that are well supported throughout tend to be more successful, just as a well-supported professional would be on their path to senior management. We will be presenting these stories in a Hall of Famelaterin the year.
- We also have seen clear evidence that managers hire their peer group in terms of age. Older entrepreneurs hire older professionals. Young entrepreneurs hire young. The only
peoplereally willing to hire 19 yearold’s without question are 23 year oldentrepreneurs.
- We have seen young people of high potential and choices (they are actively recruited by universities and employers) choose entrepreneurship.
The combination of this and many other thoughts are part of the discussion we want to have. Is the Anzisha Scenario
We’ve already had two stakeholder workshops with cross-sector representatives from South Africa, Mauritius, Egypt, Rwanda, Kenya, Zimbabwe
On April 15th, and the inaugural Very Young Entrepreneur Education and Acceleration Summit, we’ll host our first experts’ panel and launch the draft position paper. Throughout the year, workshops and panels will be held in different regions to further the debate
We look forward to you adding your voice. Please follow or contribute to the conversation using the hashtag #AnzishaScenario and let’s see if we as a community can put young people at the
Josh Adler is the VP of Entrepreneurship at African Leadership Academy and the Executive Director of the Anzisha Prize for very young entrepreneurs. He was a very young entrepreneur himself, starting his first business with a friend at the age of 19.