The Zambian business sector in general is characterized by a number of structural and systemic enterprise development challenges and limitations. The root causes of these challenges are numerous and may include among others the myopic and/or non-pragmatic economic and business planning methods whose emphasis is mostly survival-oriented, and the negative/non-appropriate cultural and educational backgrounds among others.
Sadly, these challenges and growth limitations are even immense in the perspective of youth enterprise development.
On the other hand, youth entrepreneurs are seen to be the living hope of sustained social and economic development in most progressive economies of the world today.
However, the same is not practically the case in Zambia as mostly, the natural enterprising efforts of these young and growth-oriented entrepreneurs are overwhelmingly choked by a number of structural and systemic business development challenges and limitations. Prominent among these are;
(i) The difficulty associated with raising business finance as a youth entrepreneur for sustainable investment activities.
(ii) The non availability/inclusiveness of auto-business development, matching and networking facilities and services.
(iii) The general lack and/or ineffectiveness of a youth-enterprise-development enabling environment both in public trade policies and private sector service delivery systems respectively.
The effect of these business development challenges and limitations are far reaching and may not only include the effect of nurturing of these originally growth-oriented entrepreneurs to only start and develop survivalist enterprises as opposed to sustainable(scalable) business that later employ others, but represent to a greater scale the broader society's lost social and economic growth prospects. Realistically, this poses a danger of social and economic discontinuity in a society like ours especially in the wake of an unpredictable economic age.
Ultimately, it is necessary for all stakeholders that believe in business or enterprise development promotion as an important element in the fight against poverty or under development and the attainment of sustained social and economic development, to seriously embrace and support inclusive, innovative, appropriate and sustainable efforts and strategies aimed at creating a responsive environment for sustainable enterprise development at all levels.
Below is one of the strategies that may be useful in offsetting this imbalance in the attainment of sustainable youth enterprise development in Zambia and or indeed other parts of the world that may be facing similar challenges:
Embracing and Promoting the Creation of Entrepreneur Networks/Associations That:
a. Foster practical and appropriate networking among entrepreneurs of various levels.
b. Facilitates and mediates for increased access to business financing opportunities for their members through strategic collaborations and partnerships with relevant stakeholders that may include commercial banks, venture capital institutions, the Government, local and international developmental financial institutions, donor agencies and the civil society.
c. Endeavor to enhance business and entrepreneurial knowledge among entrepreneurs.
d. Act as entrepreneurial interest advocacy and policy dialogue platforms with various stakeholders including Government and,
e. Motivate and inspire the general populace to take up entrepreneurship as a practice that can unlock unlimited opportunities.
Indeed like Entrepreneur and Author Clifton Taulbert rightly put it in his introduction of the book Who Owns The Ice House? - “Now, more than any other time in history, the future we share together as humans will need our all-hands-on-deck commitment. And no one embraces the future like the entrepreneur”.
It is therefore following the above highlighted major sustainable youth enterprise development prohibitory factors that led to the enterprising ability of once victim but visionary-turned Entrepreneur Paul K. Nyambe to initiate the creation of the Youth Entrepreneurs Network of Zambia (YENZ) in July 2010. After having been personally severely choked by these growth-threatening setbacks as a youth entrepreneur during the development of his first formal enterprise. The Youth Entrepreneurs Network of Zambia was hence created as an entrepreneurs support network of choice and collective platform for the availing of practical, innovative, appropriate and sustainable solutions to some of the major challenges hindering sustainable youth enterprise development in Zambia.
The Youth Entrepreneurs Network of Zambia therefore embraces in its programing the above suggested and inclusive strategies through the designing of its core operating systems as briefly outlined below:
i)Auto-Business Mentoring, Matching and Networking Facilities and Services.
(ii) Business Finance Mediation and Facilitation
(iii) Business Development Workshops and Seminars
(iv)Trade Policy Dialogue & Advocacy