Pause: Entrepreneurship should be taught as a subject in all schools across Africa.

By far the biggest employer of people in Africa is what is generally called the “informal sector.” I personally don’t like this title “informal,” preferring something like the “entrepreneurial” sector, but the truth of the matter is that most people in Africa survive and put their kids through school, by being “self-employed” in some sort of business activity.

Whilst most of the people in this sector are generally literate, having been to school, there’s very little in our education system that actually prepares them for a life running their own business.

This attitude that people must “fend for themselves” is something we need to end across Africa. Governments do have a responsibility to help create real jobs in an economy.

For those government leaders that ask for my advice, there are always five things that I recommend:

1. Publicly acknowledge that the “informal sector” is the central activity in your country. Whether people are smallholder farmers, street traders, or tradesmen and women, don’t be ashamed to acknowledge them as real economic players. They are contributing to the economy just like the biggest businesses that you have in your country.

2. Acknowledge the importance of this sector by putting in place policies that enable them to prosper. When they prosper, they will grow, employing more people. Start by holding meetings with them which are genuinely aimed at listening, and engaging them with dignity and respect.

3. Ensure law enforcement officials respect the informal sector. If governments don’t formally recognize the key role of this sector in the economy, law enforcement may treat these entrepreneurs badly. This is what makes this sector vulnerable to corrupt officials.

4. Ensure this sector enjoys real rights under the law. For example, no policeman should be allowed to arbitrarily confiscate someone’s goods, without due process. Courts should be arranged (and officials trained) in such a way that they can adjudicate the needs of this sector speedily, and cost effectively.

#My favorite:
5. Introduce entrepreneurship training into the formal education curriculum. By the time someone has completed seven years of school, they should be able to put together a basic profit and loss statement, and a basic balance sheet. They should also be able to read financial statements. This is really, really simple, and not much more complicated than reading football scores!

A high school leaver must also know:

# how to register a company, and register for tax.
# the basic company law of their country.
# about banks and how they operate.
# about payroll, and laws governing the rights of others.
# how businesses really operate, and how prosperity is generated in an economy.
# about sustainability, of both economic growth and the environment.

I would go as far as to say that anyone who goes to a university must also have mandatory entrepreneurship training, irrespective of what they study. This is because we have university graduates that are also unemployed, who could easily create jobs for themselves and others.

Together we can help our vast army of entrepreneurs in Africa become skills-based “enterprise builders.”

I strongly believe that if Africa focuses on fostering and developing entrepreneurship, there will be a remarkable uplift in job creation.


by 18 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

18 thoughts on “Pause: Entrepreneurship should be taught as a subject in all schools across Africa.

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    As entrepreneurs and (future and current) job creators, what do you wish you (or your children) were required to study in school?

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    Journalists should also consider acquiring financial literacy. It never ceases to shock me how badly financial and economic issues are reported in African media. Sports writers are in general much more knowledgeable and skilled than those who write on economic and company matters. #Sad.

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 4.
    Last year I had an opportunity to meet one of my all-time heroes: the economist, Hernando de Soto. If you don’t know who he is, “Google” him, and go to Wikipedia.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    I once asked my aunt to record a soccer game for me whilst I was at work. She was so excited to be helpful but failed to switch on the record button.
    “Don’t worry,” she said. “I can tell you what happened because I watched the game throughout. Your team won 15-4.”
    “Really?! That is impossible!”
    It turned out she was keeping a score on corners, and free kicks, and treating them as goals!

    In our countries, we cannot afford to approach economic and financial issues like my aunt!

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    How to become a dealer for Kwese Tv:

    The long awaited platform for entrepreneurs to become Kwese TV dealers has now gone live. All you have to do is to go to Kwese.Com, and navigate your way starting at “Get Kwese” until you get to “BECOME A DEALER”.
    You can become a dealer in 13 x countries already. As long as we have a license in your country, you can be a dealer.
    Please don’t bring any operational issues here once you are a dealer. I won’t be able to help.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Kwese Update:
    At midnight on 20th April Kwese TV extended its services beyond the first three countries (Zambia, Rwanda and Ghana), to 13x countries. To find out if your country is one of them, you can just go to Kwese.Com, and open “Buy Online”. It is also possible to register as a dealer in any of these countries if you are an entrepreneur.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Kwese Update:

    On Monday Kwese TV will make one of its biggest announcements ever, and it is not sport.
    Let me know what you think.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Ben writes,

    Good day Dr. Strive,
    Your articles have really been very helpful.
    I’m trying to develop an entrepreneurial curriculum for my young secondary school students in Nigeria (aged 10-16).
    Please Sir,can you recommend materials, articles or websites that could be of help.

    My reply,
    I’m going to see how I can help with this amazing request. It will be done Ben.

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    The Internship competition:
    I have not forgotten or abandoned the idea, I announced at the beginning of the year. The team I asked to work on it has been very busy with other duties, but I m sure we will get it done before June.

  10. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    As part of our Africanization I would like to urge you to develop two additional ideas:
    #1. Student exchange programs allowing young Africans at all levels to visit and live in homes of Africans from other regions and countries. European nations have used this type of program to develop a generation that is very focused on their “European Citizenship”.
    #2. Everyone on this platform should have a passport. And you must plan a trip to an African country, if you have not yet been to another African country.
    [don’t tell me how hard it is. Get it done without breaking the law. There are many African countries that have free movement.]

  11. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Jallel writes,

    Right now in front of my little screen watching all sports on kwesé.Thanks a lot for the opportunity and the updates. Doc, please if may ask why Kwesé tv is no more on Dstv in Ghana?
    Waiting to reading you soon.
    And thanks your humility and simplicity.

    My reply,
    Ghana was the first country to get Kwese decoders. Go to Kwese.Com and find a dealer who can supply you, so you can get it on the big screen.
    This weekend we have Joshua vs Klitchko live and for free!

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    “Breaking News”:
    CNN comes to Kwese Tv!

    Kwese Tv just announced that they have signed a mega deal with Turner Broadcasting which will see three new channels added to the boutique on 1st May. CNN is the leading news and current affairs network in the world.
    We have also added two additional channels for kids, Cartoon Network, and Boomerang. There will be 75x channels by the end of May, up from 60.

    Congratulations to the team @ Econet Media.

  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Bukari asks,

    pls i want u to elaborate your deal with [mobile operators] what exactly are we going to see?

    My reply,
    Instead of opening its own shops to sell its services, Kwese TV has entered into agreements with mobile operators in each country. As a customer of these mobile operators you will soon be able to simply walk into any of their stores and get Kwese Mobile TV, and even the decoders.
    We also have independent dealers, as well as major retailers who are offering the same service.
    You must always have a strong and diverse distribution strategy for a product (or service) to succeed.

  14. Tapiwa Zimunya

    Sir thank you for the education that you are giving us, ever since I began to read from your posts and articles, my mindset has changed and I have been so much enlightened. However, I have a question Sir concerning a startup, maybe you have already covered it in the former articles, I have got an idea that im compelled to pull through, have written a business plan, despite the fact it will be a profitable business, what are other steps that you think i have to take and also steps to take so it can be funded?


    Thank you for the opportunity to post a comment.
    I would like to find out about requirements for being a dealer for Kwese TV reseller/ agent. I am in Swaziland and currently we only have access to DSTV and our local TV stations.

    Sphiwo Nhlabatsi

  16. David Waruhari

    My names are David Waruhari. Am currently working as a customer care agent at Kwese Tv. Strive Masiyiwa you were born to a Role model to people,i just read your biography.My perception is now changed,am sure when i desire for anything ill get it.Your biography is my turning point.Thanks Mr Strive.


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