Africa is at a tipping point. There’s an entire generation eager to bootstrap themselves and others out of poverty, to reach self-sufficiency. They’re starting an entrepreneurial revolution, and they need role models.
You’ve heard of adventure travel? You’ve heard of eco-travel? Now there’s Entrepreneurial travel. New Scholars invites you to join us on an Entrepreneurial Safari to Kenya this December.
That’s how the New Scholars describes an initiative to bring several Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to Kenya for what they care calling an ‘entrepreneurial safari’. The idea is to bring these entrepreneurs for a safari and use that opportunity to expose Africa’s budding entrepreneurs and startups to the experience of the Valley entrepreneurs. At the same time, the founders of New Scholars also hope to change common perceptions and mis-conceptions held by westerners concerning the African continent. These are topics we have covered severally on Afrinnovator.
The initiative has found it’s way to top websites including FastCompany which says of the initiative:
Africa has risen to become a destination for innovative startups–in mobile, health care, finance, and other areas. And young entrepreneur Garang Akau, one of Sudan’s Lost Boys featured in the documentary film of the same name, believes one way to give back and spur further innovation is by bringing eager, impressionable, accomplished role models from Silicon Valley to the youth at the heart of Africa’s innovation revolution.
Akau and his business partner, Darius Golkar, will take five such individuals to Africa in December to share ideas and help young innovators push their business plans, as part of Akau and Golkar’s organization, New Scholars, and their “Entrepreneurial Safari.”
Inc.com also picked up on the story from FastCompany:
… today’s Fast Company explains that this December, five of Silicon Valley‘s finest will travel to Kenya to take part in an “Entrepreneurial Safari” and help entrepreneurs there develop their business ideas. The founders of the program, however, hope the trip will be beneficial to the American entrepreneurs as well. ”By bringing Silicon Valley entrepreneurs to the continent we’re exposing them to an Africa they’re not familiar with–an enterprising arena full of economic potential,” Garang Akau, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan tells Fast Company. ”Opportunities will be exposed, fruitful dialogue started, and doors opened for investments in the region.” Today’s CNN also offers a few other ways investors can cash in on the growing African market.
New Scholars seems to be taking quite a balanced approach to this. They seem to recognize that Africa is not a charity case – there’s real potential for real economic growth through entrepreneurship. Secondly, they are seeking to educate the west about this same issue.
Ida Horner recently wrote a piece on her blog challenging Africans to share ideas about what we could do ourselves to change our own circumstances without aid. TMS Ruge of Project Diaspora, who we interviewed recently on video, also shares the same passion about Africa being self-dependant and us having within us the power to change our circumstances through entrepreneurship. Leila Janah’s Samasource project is also built on the same premise – ‘Give work not aid’
Perhaps this nature of this safari initiative owes it to the founder who is himself an African from one of Africa’s most troubled nations. And he’s right – Africa is at a tipping point. Literally all the entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed seem to agree on this. There needs to be a radical change in development initiatives in what they call the third world – from giving money to enabling the people to dig themselves out of the mess they are in through their own entrepreneurial efforts. The point being that just giving aid takes the recipient away from experiencing the responsibility and reward of working himself to self dependancy, and there is a level of dignity that is lost in this.
US President Barrack Obama seems to agree. In fact Aid watch has done a couple of articles on Obama’s perceptions and position on the need to re-think aid. William Easterly on a blog post on Aid Watch muses, ‘Allow me to introduce the world’s latest aid skeptic: Barack Obama‘. And proceeds to quote from Obama’s speech at the UN MDG Summit.
“For too long, we’ve measured our efforts by the dollars we spent … But aid alone is not development.” - Barrack Obama
The entrepreneurial safari is one of many initiatives that we have come across and have covered that seem to hammer the point home that the world is finally starting to take a real interest in Africa beyond poverty and governance issues to the latent entrepreneurial opportunities that exist. We can safely predict this is a trend that is like to continue and gain even more momentum as time goes by.
Perhaps it took a global economic recession to get the rest of the world to this point. Quoting a song ‘Africa, rise up stand up, this is your time, this is your moment, the land has been restored‘.