IMBISA webinar on entrepreneurship bolsters empowerment and skills development for the youth in Africa

By Br. Alfonce Kugwa

Fr. Rafael Sapato, IMBISA Director

The entrepreneurship webinar for young people in Southern Africa recently held by the Inter Regional Meeting of Bishops in Southern Africa (IMBISA) is set to bolster empowerment, skills development and self-reliance for young people in the region.

The webinar which took place on 12 September 2023 was held against the background that African governments are failing to provide enough jobs to sustain the growing population of the youth, hence the need to empower young people to become entrepreneurs who do not wait to be employed but work to create employment.

The theme of the webinar was; “Entrepreneurships: A game within all of us”.

The webinar which was attended by young people, youth animators, priests and religious from Angola, Mozambique, South Africa, Sao Tome and Principe, Eswatini, Namibia, Mozambique and Zimbabwe encouraged young people in Africa to be innovative and create opportunities for employment in their respective communities.

The youth in Africa were challenged to embrace value addition and beneficiation as a way of growing their enterprises.

IMBISA Director, Fr. Raphael Sapato said the Church was highly concerned about the sad reality that the majority of young people in Africa have nothing to do. He cited that lack of employment in the region exacerbated social ills such as drug and substance abuse and all forms of delinquency. Fr. Sapato pointed out that Catholic Bishops from Southern Africa raised this concern during their IMBISA meeting in Namibia last year under the theme; “Building forward together: Reimagining the

Church’s Engagement with young people in the IMBISA region in the light of Pope Francis’ Exhortation, Christus Vivit.

In their statement after the meeting, the Bishops reiterated their commitment to support the youth initiatives in addressing unemployment in the region.

“As the bishops of IMBISA, we have taken up this exhortation to journey with the young people, to give them platforms to express their views and to assist them in making structures that give them a more active participatory role in the mission of the Church. We support the establishment of youth structures at our regional level. These structures will assist in dealing with problems affecting them like drug abuse, unemployment and child marriages among other problems. We want to create an atmosphere where our youths are not only spectators in our Church but have a real experience with  Christ. We also call on the aid of our different governments to create employment and curb terrorism and create a peaceful environment for our youths,” said the Bishops in a statement.

Mr. Sebastiao Panzo

The presenter Mr. Sebastiao Panzo, and entrepreneur from Angola, said it is high time that young people turn their talents into skills and create employment for themselves than to look up to government for employment opportunities. Mr. Panzo challenged young people from Africa to be innovative and to take entrepreneurship seriously so as to transform their realities. He called upon youth in Africa to capitalise on every opportunity so as to emancipate themselves from the captivity of poverty.

Mr. Panzo urged young people to identify segments or sectors in the continent that can support their talents and entrepreneurial skills while he also encouraged cross pollination of ideas among young people in the region.

“Young people from the African continent need to learn from experiences of their counterparts who have made it in life. There are good examples of young people from our continent who have become successful entrepreneurs and it is important to exchange notes with them so that their experiences can inspire other aspiring youth in the region,” stated Mr. Panzo.

Mr. Panzo further encouraged young people from the region to form synergies and teams so that they learn from each other.

“A good team leverages on other people’s time, skills, experiences and technology. An entrepreneur is a creator of systems, processes and brings together finance and people’s talents, skills and experiences,” Mr. Panzo said.

The presenter told the youth to identify a market opportunity that matches their skills, interests and values; research consumer trends, needs and problems, and think about how to offer an innovative, differentiated and quality solution to the problem they seek to address. He further proposed study of target audience, development of business plans, formalization of business enterprises, skills development in management and entrepreneurship and creation of contacts that can offer support, guidance and collaboration.

Participants in the webinar called on the church to support the youth by creating a conducive environment that promote their needs as well as their ideas.

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