THE revelation by Minister of Sport and Youth Vincent Mwale that the rate of defaulting is very high among Zambian youths who benefited from Government empowerment funds is shocking. Something must be wrong somewhere.
Mr Mwale puts it down to lack of adequate information and mentorship, that the youths have not been taught how to conduct business in the right way and that maybe Government must think of another approach.
‘‘We have made a lot of efforts as Government through the Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC), through the Youth Development Fund; we have given a number of start-up capital, loans to young people but I think that the success we have recorded is not what we would have wanted to record,’’ he said.
What he was saying was that the failure rate among these entrepreneurs is unacceptably high, that the huge Government investment has gone down the drain because, apart from their enterprises folding up, they have failed to pay back the money and they are now part of the thousands of young people trudging the streets every day looking for employment.
Just what is the problem with young people today? They have stopped thinking and applying themselves to what they do. They do not know how to dream, work and sweat. They are so used to: ‘‘Mum I want a new phone, my friend at college has an Android smart phone. This one is out of date.’’ And mum or dad must race to the nearest ATM and withdraw K2,000 so that this little prate can have his or her wish.
Our children spend the better part of their daily lives watching TV, scrolling the internet and chatting to friends on phone or Facebook. They sleep until 10.00 hours, work up to demand breakfast from the hapless maid (those who have any), have a shower then raid the wardrobe for the best top, jeans and snickers before hitting the road.
They will be out till midnight and then arrive home to hammer on the front door announcing their arrival. And the poor parent or guardian will work up, curse himself and herself, and then go to open the door for the queen or prince of the house. And this is replicated in different ways throughout Zambian households today.
What our children are ignoring at their own peril is that these phones they now consider more important than study and household chores were invented by young college dropouts who sat down to think, identified the need, tried to work it out a thousand times and go it right finally. They then used their hands and brains to make a rough sketch which they went out with to convince a company or moneyed individual to sponsor the project.
Many of these entrepreneurs did not have money and were rejected a hundred times – but they persevered. Today they are mega rich, employ thousands of people and their names are great world brands. They succeeded through enterprise, passion, imagination and simple hard work.
Our children must learn to seek knowledge first at school, college or university. They must use that knowledge to empower themselves in whatever way they can; using whatever resource at their disposal.
Zambia will only develop through sheer hard work – working long hours, pushing oneself to the limit to get what you want. That way the sky is the limit.