Bouquet with Impact


Bouquet with Impact  via Harvard Business School Alumni News

I found the above article interesting for a number of reasons, not least that Cuffe’s interest in founding her business included wanting to improve the world’s image of Africa and an opportunity to alter some misconceptions. I think her motives are highly commendable as often times the image with which Africa is presented is negative, and definitely unfair.

Another point the writer flags which is worth repeating is that apartheid had prevented them from owning land or gaining access to capital. Unfortunately, as I opined here on a similar issue – citing the Radio 4 desert island discs of  Sir Sydney Kentridge, the sorry tale of land and capital in Africa is politicised and quite sad (See a recent article by the Independent here). Much more worrying is the fact that there are capable people across Africa today who are underutilised and have been excluded by the powers that be, from fully participating in their society, not because they have no skills or potential, instead because they have no access to land or sufficient capital. The difference this time is that it’s not apartheid as was the case in South Africa, but some other equally abhorrent excuse.

That’s not to say that I’d advocate Zimbabwe style land grabbing at the expense of white Zimbabweans, no that’s not the way forward. What is needed is active participation by all the stakeholders, including a realisation that if the wealth of a country is shared more equally amongst its inhabitants, the country becomes stronger. We have the likes of Sweden and Norway as examples of this. However, for this to happen, people need a quality education that presents a global perspective to local issues.

Thus, I believe that increasing Africa’s productivity and cleaning-up it’s image is inextricably linked to allowing Africans access to Capital, Land and Natural resources. There is no other way if the goal is to ultimately see Africa develop, and I’m sure those who have read the histories of development of Western Countries can agree with me.

So not only ownership of mines or farms, but also ownership of industry, factories, etc. Add to that the ingredient of a quality education, and formal business management instruction, and Africa’s productivity will be on the increase, crime rates will reduce and some of the Africa’s woes will quickly disappear.

And it’s not about brokering deals with old politicians, comfortable and settled in their old ways, nor will it involve working with some other big-wig influencers with access to the powers that be. Not at all, in my view progress will come by empowering skilled and educated Africans Youths to control their destinies; to be able to thrive irrespective of which political party is in power, those young people who have a real passion for economic change, are entrepreneurial and not afraid of taking calculated risks. The continent probably has tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of these individuals already, and in my view empowering them is the first step.

No clearer is this passion exhibited than in TV shows such as Tutu’s children.

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