The 2015 Youth Summit took place on Friday 25th September in partnership with the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA) University of Nairobi and Vision Changers Kenya at the University of Nairobi Main Campus, with 320 participants. It was a perfect opportunity for youth to come together and gain important and useful insights in regard to entrepreneurship and leadership. The panels had a good mix of individuals from various spaces, each with an interesting story as regards their background and their path to success.
The first panel was moderated by Ayodele John Alonge, the Publicity and Communication Chair at YALDA, and touched on all matters regarding youth participation in entrepreneurship and economic sustainability. Ayodele, particularly captured vividly one of the main insights on matters regarding entrepreneurship when he stated that the object of the summit was to “empower young people to build their own businesses”, and thus to not just depend on working for someone, but rather to have a broad spectrum in terms of work.
Oscar Muriuki, who works with the Danish Refugee Council as an Assistant Project officer, stated that entrepreneurship goes beyond just investing. He suggested the aspect of social entrepreneurship, working with humanitarian aid assistance. He defined entrepreneurship as the challenging of the conventional through the bright new ideas that young people have.
Olivia Otieno, an award winning radio and television host/producer, gave her inspiring journey of how she started entrepreneurship when she was only fourteen years old. She gave young people hope stating that qualifications are only a technical term, stating the fact that passion should be the basis of whatever the youth wish to do. She described her passion for putting people together as one of the main reasons for her success in creating Kenya’s first television dating show. “Tujuane [a show and Swahili for let’s know each other] would never have existed if I never followed my passion,” she said.
Chris Muthuri, who has worked with youth in Africa from 2008, highlighted the importance of the Youth Summit as providing a space for awareness. He highlighted the importance of identifying and keeping in contact with role models.
The aspect of passion was central in all conversations. Young people were urged to keep strong and to not give up even when they failed; failure may be inevitable in some circumstances but what was important is how you pick yourself up. Olivia described success as “moving on from the failure without losing enthusiasm”.
Professor Rosemary Atieno, an Associate Professor at the Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi in Kenya, particularly stated that the attitude the youth have towards entrepreneurship was particularly a main hindrance towards the succeeding in entrepreneurship. She particularly admired the work done by WYA, stating that our work counts as entrepreneurship because leadership starts when we were angry about something and therefore if our young people can see something and say this cannot continue, then this gave birth to entrepreneurship in bad governance or corruption (which can be related to Anna Halpine’s stand in 1999 at founding of WYA).
The youth were reminded of the importance of maintaining law and order, faith in Africa, and expanding networks as a means to achieve greater success in entrepreneurship.
The second panel was moderated by Raphael Obonyo, a youth advocate at the national, regional and international levels, and this panel dived straight into all matters regarding good governance and leadership. The moderator captured the essence of youth participation in matters of leadership and governance by urging the audience to participate in governance and to add value to whatever they were given, never being afraid.
Dr. Gershon Mwiti, the founder and CEO of the Leadership Institute of Kenya, suggested three aspects regarding the being-ness of a leader: know it, be it and do it. He identified that “if you can develop these aspects you can become a good leader”. Leadership was the capacity to cause a movement.
Morris Ondiek from the Youth Enterprise Fund Kenya described leadership as going hand in hand with knowledge. He identified that knowledge was instrumental to success. He encouraged the youth to make sure they remained knowledgeable over the happenings around them in order to gain greater success in a leadership and governance.
Umezulike Chambers, A Masters in International Studies student at the University of Nairobi gave a good illustration of Singapore when describing that there is a correlation between good leadership and economic development. He blamed lack of visionary leadership as the reason for Africa’s lagging behind and suggested a correlation between good governance, values, integrity, dignity and economic growth.
The youth were urged to maintain the right values to bring a change in current leadership, to be confient about entering the leadership space, to abhor sloth, as ways going forward. The Summit was a huge success, with participants, mostly students, from universities in and around Nairobi. We especially thank YALDA University of Nairobi and Vision Changers Kenya for the excellent collaboration towards hosting the 2015 Youth Summit. We look forward to another space for the same next year.
By Matthew Arrumm, WYA Africa Regional Intern