Talks .

Youth Entrepreneurship .

By Isabel dos Santos .

Young people are the power of change

Being among young dreamers is one of my greatest joys. I can see myself in their entrepreneurial spirit and their passion for creating something new. That’s what happened at the Youth Entrepreneurship and Innovation Conference, which took place at the University of Cape Verde on October 10, 2019. The day I asked a crowded room: “Who intends to start a business and be an entrepreneur tomorrow?” To my happiness and surprise, several hands raised up! We have a promising future in Africa!

But it is also in a room full of young people that I remember that this is the most uncertain moment in anyone’s life. You are finishing college and are wondering: what’s next? Will I have enough money to buy a house and to start a family? Will I be able to build a business? Where do I start?

Everything in life has its stage and age. The first advice I could give you when you finish college would be to try to work and have some professional experience so that you can understand how the business world works. You have to be aware that starting a business is a serious challenge. Probably the biggest challenge of your life because everything is new and we are never sure of any decisions we are making. Therefore, being aware of the business world is the first step: experience. Furthermore, the vast majority of young entrepreneurs do not have enough capital to start a business. But I would also like to remind you of this: a great entrepreneur is not one who starts and already has a big company. In your dreams and ideas, remember that you need to start from the bottom. It is not worth trying to build a project that is bigger than us. We have to build projects tailored to our dimension.

Have an idea, have a plan and have a team

To start a business we have to take into account the three main pillars: idea, plan, and team. Firstly, you need an idea and a good idea. It is identifying something that is lacking, wanting to do something different and innovative. That is, being able to look at the technology around us and apply it to our business. This ability to innovate will make the business more competitive and will translate into more results than our competitor.

The idea and the plan only work with one team. Remember: nobody works alone. Surround yourselves with people you trust, with whom you share a passion for the business and define responsibilities and tasks.

Entrepreneurship begins in us

For many years we were told a lie. We were told to wait because outsiders would come and they would solve our problems. I would like to tell you that this is not true. We are the only people who can solve our own problems. Therefore, entrepreneurship begins in us. We are effectively the power of change. We have the power to transform our society. And that starts with having self-confidence and passing these values on to new generations, to our children. We adults, managers, teammates, parents, have a duty to teach that it is good to fail.

Failure is really positive because only in error can we recognize how to improve and enhance. As a manager and an entrepreneur, I am the example that we cannot learn and succeed without failing. In over 20 years, I have many more projects that have failed than those that are running. But I say with the utmost certainty that all those projects that didn’t evolve have actually helped me build what I have built up to the present day.