“…my only career options were to either become a lawyer, doctor, engineer or a family failure.”
Promoting entrepreneurship is a crucial element in this globalized world. Skills on design-thinking, risk taking, evaluation and identifying a gap in the market often leads to a business either becoming successful or becoming a failed statistic. Thus, the entrepreneurship attitude needs to be manifested in the African youth. I once had a conversation with someone who stated that “I grew up in a strict but, common at the time African setting. My only career options dictated by my community were to either become a lawyer, doctor, engineer or a family failure.” This limited outlook on an individual’s life journey often stifles creative and entrepreneurship endeavors which may have largely and positively impact not only Africa, but the world. This limited outlook and sentiment is a challenge the African Leadership Academy seeks to address by cultivating the entrepreneurship spirit within the students of the Academy through an event know as E-Fest.
Enterprise Fest (E-Fest) is the showcase of the Year One students’ creative and revolutionary pan-African entrepreneurship ideas to the ALA Community. If an individual had to score the brightest and most professional presentation of this year’s E-Fest ideas, it would definitely be said that expectations were exceeded. As this year’s E-Fest truly showed the ingenuity and creative potential of each of the students who participated in the event.
Despite the numerous and superb quality of ideas, four groups were carefully chosen out of a total group number of 28 to present their ideas as finalists in a bid to be selected as the group with the best idea and crowned winner of this year’s E-Fest 2016. The 4 groups comprised a wide range of ideas with potential to create a large and lasting impact in Africa. Thus, leaving their footprints in the sands of African history through their innovative ideas. One finalist group composed of Nathan Duker from South Africa and Aya Somai from Tunisia sought to innovate the African art industry by creating a platform which would connect struggling African craftsmen who produce authentic African products to an international market and clientele. Another group made up of Josphat Lowoi from Kenya, Nada Saaidia from Tunisia, Wanja Njama from Kenya, and Marubini Muswede from South Africa pursued to address the problem of discrimination within Africa through creating an organization that would fight against discrimination using sensitization and creative campaigns combating social issues. The third group addressed the pressing issue of deforestation by creating a recycling enterprise which would collect paper from high-schools in Kenya and distribute them to a paper manufacturing company. The project serves to reduce the demand of trees for paper, providing the paper manufacturing company paper that they could simply recycle.
“…lets redefine the standards of African beauty by promoting natural hair”- Mario Tomar
The final idea and also this year’s winning idea, was that of a hair product called “Yellow Shea”. Yellow Shea would seek to create natural hair care products for African hair. The team who were comprised of Mario Tomar from Cape Verde and Haby Ka from Senegal identified a gap within the African hair market for natural and safe hair care products specifically designed for afro-centric hair. The group also showcased their prototype of the idea by displaying a sample of their all-natural hair care product. Their product would provide an alternative to hair care products frequently used by Africans which contains harmful chemicals which usually burns the scalp and damages the structure of the hair. The presentation which was professionally done with an air of excellence – received a standing ovation from the audience members. Congratulations to Mario and Haby for showcasing their innovative hair-care product and being crowned winners of E-Fest 2016!
We may not know where the next Facebook idea lies or the next Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, but there’s one thing for certain, the next global idea will be discovered on the African continent only by utilizing Africa’s most valuable resource- its youth. With African Leadership Academy investing their resources and Entrepreneurial Leadership (EL) curriculum in the youth of Africa, the Academy is surely on the path of uncovering and discovering the next Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk of Africa- one EL class and one E-Fest competition at a time.