Zandre Campos, CEO of ABO Capital believes that despite the myriads of challenges confronting young entrepreneurs in Africa, the continent’s entrepreneurs are able to surmount these obstacles and lead the continent to an enviable height. In this exclusive interview with African Leadership Magazine, he talks about Entrepreneurship, Job & Wealth creation and ABO’s efforts towards encouraging young African entrepreneurs. Excerpts:
Africa is home to the largest reserve of young people in the world, with over 60 of the population within the ages of 15-35. While some have argued that this is an asset to the continent, others have equally described this as a time bomb. How do you see Africa’s growing young population?
Each generation is faced with its own set of challenges. The young population of Africa is an asset to the continent. In Angola, young entrepreneurs have the opportunity to develop and diversify their country beyond the oil economy. They are the future of innovation in agriculture, tourism, healthcare, transportation and technology.The youth today hold the answers for tomorrow.
We need to support young entrepreneurs to provide them with the best opportunities possible so they can succeed.
According to the International Labour Organization, the unemployment rate in Sub-Saharan Africa hovers around 12%. With the continent’s population tipped to double by 2050; what are some of the urgent steps that can help check this trend?
We need to continue diversifying our economies to keep up our economic growth. Diversification will present new opportunities for people of all ages, particularly the youth. The decreased oil prices bring opportunity and motivation to African countries to diversify their markets.
According to EY’s 2015 global job creation and youth entrepreneurship survey, Sub-Saharan African entrepreneurs are the second most confident group of entrepreneurs with 61 percent expected to add employees in the next 12 months. Sub-Saharan Africa holds the world’s highest percentage of young people involved in new business, 29 percent, according to Weforum.org.
Access to Capital has been described as one of the greatest impediments to entrepreneurship among young people in the continent; how would you guide budding entrepreneurs towards accessing funds?
It is critical that we support young entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs should connect with already established business executives and other organizations established to help young entrepreneurs. For example, the African Innovation Foundation, established five years ago, has set up an innovation hub in Angola called the Fábrica de Sabão (the Soap Factory). It’s intended as an incubator hub that includes co-working spaces, a cultural exchange platform, a local radio station and a residence program for visiting mentors.
There is pent-up frustration among young people in the continent-owing largely to their exclusion from the policymaking and political space in various countries. How do we get more young people involved in policy formulation and politics?
Technology is one way for young people to get involved. The use of technology and social media has impacted policies around the world. Young people with big ideas can share them and get involved through the adoption of technology.
It is generally accepted that African entrepreneurs face some of the world’s toughest business conditions. What are your top 10 nuggets for business growth and survival, for young entrepreneurs?
Young entrepreneurs should persevere; they should always stay active and keep moving. You need to keep busy and no matter what push to achieve your objectives and goals. Secondly, you should always think global and act locally. Global effects local every day, from the economy to politics to culture. Work to position your organization to find profit and growth now and in the future.
It is also critical to do what you believe in. If you do not believe in what you are working on or it does not support your values, then you will not succeed. Do not get caught up in making money, it is almost always better passing on an opportunity and finding something you believe in.
You believe that entrepreneurs will lead Africa forward; how is this possible in the face of the myriads of challenges confronting young entrepreneurs in the continent?
Entrepreneurship is a daunting challenge in any country, but I can attest to the fact that the leap of faith is worth it. There are great benefits that come with the creation of a new company including creating jobs, unique products and services, and wealth for the entrepreneurs themselves. Countries are placing more emphasis on entrepreneurs and these individuals will be the ones who change the way our economy operates and will use their creative spirit to do so.
What is ABO Capital doing to create more entrepreneurs in the continent?
I have been lucky to work closely with many bright, young students. One case that comes to mind is the story of three young technology masterminds that were working on a project to build software to assist blind and mute individuals with their communication needs. I saw them on a news program and was impressed by their work and enthusiasm. I helped them secure sponsorship to the Beijing Institute of Technology and paid for the rest out of pocket. Cerineu Ginga, Helder Cabonde, and Juvenal Lunguenda all recently graduated with honors in June 2016. I am happy that I have been part of their journey and know that my investment in their education will help better the African continent as a whole.
What is your final word for young entrepreneurs in the continent?
You have the future in your hands. Hard work and perseverance will enable you to be successful and bring change to the African continent and the world.