The following blog post was written by Catherine Munyua, a Frontier Market Scout.
The unemployment rate in most developing countries still remains high today. Even worse, the youth unemployment rate continues to rise. How can we expect our countries to grow if the most productive population is underutilized? Our parents spent the last bit of their savings to educate us, but when we graduate and there are no jobs, what are we supposed to do? And the few employment opportunities that are still out there are granted to the most well-connected and those who are always proactively networking. We, young citizens of developing countries, need to focus more intently on entrepreneurship as a way to create employment and to ultimately help change the status quo.
How can a country create a culture of entrepreneurship? The cost of doing business in many developing countries is often very high and furthermore, the policy environment is in need of a big change. The move away from “business as usual” is desperately needed.
Citizens of “bottom of the pyramid” (BoP) countries need to invest in their own youth. The venture capital field at the BoP needs to expand, and we, the citizens of those countries, need to be more active. We know and understand our environment and our needs. Why don’t we promote more investment in our people and their innovative ideas, instead of only paying attention to real estate and the stock market? We should not stop at just financial investments, but simultaneously pursue societal and environmental impact. The successful entrepreneurs in these BoP countries ought to offer guidance and mentorship to those young innovators who are trying to enter the market. Additionally, the academic environment needs to participate and lay the much-needed foundation for creating an entrepreneurial culture.
It is time for venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and policy makers from developing countries to recognize the desire for their active participation in addressing the basic needs of the world’s poor. Let us look beyond traditional investments and create a culture of entrepreneurship where we address needs with creative market-based solutions. We need to have more faith in what the entrepreneurs in our countries can bring to the table and begin investing in our people.