By the year 2050, a quarter of the world’s population will reside in Africa. This dramatic population increase presents an enormous opportunity for the entire African continent; the poverty reduction that could accompany such growth could be transformative. But can African countries leverage such a sizeable opportunity? At HCC, we believe the answer is yes.
To sustain such growth, jobs must be created. In the last 23 years, Africa’s youth labor participation has been almost negligible. The continent has struggled to create sustainable jobs for even the most educated of its youth.
There are 10 to 12 million young people entering the job market annually, but each of them is faced with a private sector that lacks the vitality to absorb them.
Therein lies the challenge – as well as the opportunity.
Like a blank canvas waiting to be painted, Africa’s future looms, precarious yet promising. A vision is all that is needed to create an entirely different picture for Africa, its youth, and its economic climate.
The Vision: HCC’s CEPE
The Center for Entrepreneurship, Philanthropy, and Ethics (CEPE) is where this vision comes into focus. Armed with its priority of “advancing entrepreneurship,” HCC has outlined 4 key strategies for 2019 that will bring this vision into verity:
- The cultivation of ethics in all HCC members
- The fostering of philanthropic inclinations and capabilities in all members
- The creation of an environment conducive to business ideation
- The support all profitable and feasible business ideas generated by members
Breaking Down the Vision:
HCC conveys its approach to ethics through example and mentoring. For the coming year, HCC will conduct a series of business and ethics training workshops. Organized by the CEPE, three workshops in all will be conducted in 2019. These workshops will attract young entrepreneurs and startup leaders by featuring recognized experts who will share information on such key topics as taxation in Ghana, information technology for young businesses, and the incorporation of ethics into contemporary business models.
The experience of being at HCC – and being a part of the CEPE – amounts to a tremendous blessing of opportunity for those fortunate enough to be included. It’s a blessing that many others will never have. To be exposed with such knowledge, and to be entrusted with the means to wield it into action, is a true blessing to students, one that should leave them inspired to give back, and to do so not out of duty, but out of desire and gratitude. The CEPE will continue to foster this desire in students this coming year through numerous donations to the needy. As in 2018, the CEPE will identify an organization or group of individuals in need and make significant donations to each. Additionally, members of the HCC and CEPE communities will be encouraged to make personal contributions as well.
An Environment Ripe for Business Ideation
HCC graduates experience learning not just in the classroom but through the opportunity to practice and develop their own ideas. It is imperative that the CEPE creates and maintains a thriving environment conducive for students’ ideas if the institution is to stoke this process of job creation. HCC has developed five main programs for 2019 that will aid in future developments:
- Social Innovation Pitch Competitions
- Business Bootcamps
- The CEPE Internship
- An Academic Research Conference
- Explorative Research into Current Business Issues
Social Innovation Pitch Competitions:
Riding upon the huge success scored at the 2018 Global Social Innovation Challenge, where the students of HCC’s “Team Charcoal” took the highest honors, the CEPE plans to identify social innovation pitches across the globe and sponsor members of their community to participate, in order to expose them to the international world and help them become a viable source for investment. These social innovation pitches are highly competitive, usually with participants from all over the world, and thus they require significant effort from participants. The Center will help students with the ideation of socially innovative projects and further assist them in properly documenting existing gaps in social problems, while also proposing solutions to tackle them. When all is done according to plan, those members of the community who participate in these pitches can obtain considerable skills, knowledge, and experience in problems-based-thinking, design thinking, presentation, business analysis, team building, cooperation, and travel. This will help advance the objectives of the CEPE and HCC while simultaneously putting Ghana on the global map.
HCC and the CEPE will organize a three-day business bootcamp in 2019. The idea is for successful startups to exhibit their products and services. We will also invite resource persons to discuss pertinent business challenges for startups in Ghana as well as suggested solutions for the same. We expect that, by the time of this event, HCC student-led companies that were awarded grants in 2018 will have products and services to exhibit, while administrators will also invite several new, up-and-coming startup companies to participate as well.
The CEPE Internship:
In 2018, a selection of students at HCC interned with the Center to set up a FarmBot (an open-software robot for farming) and a 3-D printer. Both the FarmBot and 3-D printer projects will continue this year, but new projects will also be introduced. For 2019, the goal is to intensify the internship program by exposing students to more technology-based projects that will stimulate their problem solving and analytical skills.
The Academic Research Conference:
To foster research efforts at HCC and in the Ghanaian academic community in general, the CEPE will organize an academic conference that will attract researchers and other business leaders to discuss pertinent business issues in Ghana, with an eye toward soliciting feedback on solutions. Past seminars were limited to researchers in the HCC community, but for the coming year, we will expand the conference to include faculty from other universities as well as other business leaders.
Explorative Research into Current Business Issues
Besides the academic conference, the CEPE will also sponsor researchers dedicated to undertaking research in targeted areas of business, ethics, and I.T. Members of the community will be given the opportunity to submit proposals for sponsorships, with the Center aiming at sponsoring at least five research efforts in 2019.
Support of Business Ideas:
Through the hands-on training and financial sponsorship of HCC, the new businesses students create won’t just benefit the individual students themselves. These new businesses will provide jobs for others. The support of these businesses will be manifested in the following ways:
- The HCC Startup Challenge
- Establishment of Existing Businesses
- Nurturing of Businesses through Entrepreneurship Training
The HCC Startup Challenge:
As our flagship program for 2018, the HCC Startup Challenge will continue in 2019, rejuvenated with new ideas. With adequate sponsorship, the CEPE can expand the scope and provide more focused training workshops to participants. After seeing eight awards conferred in 2018, our goal for the 2019 year is to see 10 projects earn awards. In this program, funding is bestowed to the awardees.
Establishment of Existing Businesses: The Bino Sanna Systems Company Limited
With Team Charcoal’s success in the Global Social Innovation Challenge, the three students who won the grand prize at the competition have registered a company to manufacture charcoal using human excrement. Processes are underway to obtain a manufacturing license and to acquire land to construct the factory. The CEPE will continue to support them in their activities and ensure that the factory is constructed and operational in the 2019 year.
Nurturing of Businesses through Entrepreneurship Training
We will continue to provide advisory services to startups from both the HCC community and outside the community. We will make considerable efforts to increase the pool of experts available as well as their diversity in their expertise. This will boost the managerial and operational capacities of the businesses that we support. There is no specific timeline for this service, as it will be made available throughout the year. Additionally, the Center will organize entrepreneurship training programs targeted at business owners within the Churches of Christ, with the goal of supporting the activities of the Center while improving the businesses of church members.
Today’s Vision, Tomorrow’s Africa
The CEPE’s vision for the future is a fine blueprint that carefully lays out the steps and stages of the work to come. In a number of African countries, youth unemployment is part of a vicious cycle. Jobless youth are more susceptible to joining the ranks of rebel movements, armies, and pro-government militias that have been battling each other for years. In turn, war leads to more joblessness by dramatically devastating the country’s economy, infrastructure, and human resources.
The challenge is stopping this vicious cycle. It is imperative that the next generation be afforded more economic opportunity than the generation before it. At HCC, we believe we hold the very tools with which to effect this transformation. Each student, and each new business, holds tomorrow’s Africa within the palm of their hands. The power to create jobs and strengthen not just a community but an entire nation is on the horizon. Join us as we rise.