Entrepreneurship And Employment: Engaging The Diaspora To Tackle Unemployment In Africa

If on Friday October 16, 2015 you were at the Thurgood Marshall Center Trust, chances are you took part in a great discussion about entrepreneurship and employment in Africa. There was even someone in the audience who confessed that he had planned to go to a different meeting in the building but was intrigued by ours so he sat down and stayed the entire time!

Heritage Africa Inc experts believe that youth unemployment in Africa must be tackled from multiple angles to ensure a solid workforce for global economies. And it is not just for Africa’s sake.

The evening discussions highlighted a lack of relevant skills, low access to and poor quality of education on the continent as the major problem. Another big issue is that the concept of a “Private sector”–driven economy is not well developed in many African countries. The need for mentoring, coaching and capacity building was indicated.

Diaspora were encouraged to:
1) Provide soft support (eg. Donating funds for tuition, volunteering with Heritage Africa and Partners as consultants to African Governments or as teachers)
2) Step up to help create the jobs by setting up small business enterprises in partnership with peers on the continent or as mentors.

The challenge, as we see it…

“Over the next 10 years, at best only one in four of Sub-Saharan Africa’s youth will find a wage job, and only a small fraction of those jobs will be “formal” jobs in modern enterprises. The employment challenge is therefore not just to create jobs in the formal sector, important as that may be, but to increase the productivity of the almost 80 percent of the workforce who will be in the informal sector- thereby addressing the underemployment associated with work in this sector.”

Next year, Heritage Africa will host a Development Hackathon, an idea marketplace for groups of Diaspora and their friends who intend to start businesses to solve development challenges.

The three speakers at the event for GDW2015:

045[1]Sharon Brown, JD, LL.M: Is an attorney with a desire to see real transformation in the nations of Africa. She is founding partner and supervising attorney of Access USA Lawyer, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a law practice providing a full range of immigration services in English and Creole.

Prior to starting her practice, Ms. Brown served as Administrator of the Haitian Refugee Center. She was also a Certified Legal Intern for the American Immigration lawyers Association Pro Bono Project. In 2006, Ms. Brown started a faith based non-profit organization, the Sonshine Global Partners which organizes short term trips to Uganda, South Sudan, Ghana and Togo bringing medical care and psychological counseling local communities.

Ms. Brown now serves as the President of Malku Institute of Technology in Ghana, incorporated in 2013. A recipient of the Ford Foundation Fellowship, Ms. Brown is an alumnus of the University of Miami law School and the St. Thomas University School  of Law.

14-077[1]Jasmine M. Lataillade, MSW: Is a Program Development officer with OIC International. Ms. Lataillade plays a key role in coordinating and managing proposal development, cultivating strategic partnerships with corporations, foundations and individuals that share OIC International’s mission to build self-reliance and entrepreneurship through technical and vocational skills development in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prior to joining OIC International, Ms. Lataillade worked as a social worker in the field of international development. She supported senior adults and those with disabilities in New York and worked as a micro-finance analyst with Foundacion Mujer, performing credit analysis of low income women in Costa Rica’s rural areas.

As a Haitian-American, Ms. Lataillade uses her cultural knowledge and language skills to advocate on behalf of underserved communities, specifically providing disaster relief support during the 2010 Haitian earthquake crisis. As a team leader, she coordinated projects in shelter distribution, public space renewal, hygiene and sanitation, and enterprise development. In addition, Ms. Lataillade produced and co-hosted a weekly information broadcast program with local Haitain radio station “Au Nou Pale”, reaching nearly 100,000 people in the town of Leogane.

017[2]Dr. Nwadiuto Esiobu: Professor Esiobu is a former US Carnegie African Diaspora fellow, selected to facilitate capacity building, mentoring and graduate education. She is a Professor of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology and the director of the microbial biotech lab at Florida Atlantic University, USA. She was trained at some of the world’s most reputed citadels of education, with her B.Sc., Ph.D. and Post-doctoral degrees from the Universities of Benin, Ife (OAU), Louvain, Belgium and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) respectively. Professor Esiobu is a highly distinguished professional and widely published academic with expertise and extensive experience in research, instruction and professional leadership. She has trained several Masters and PhD students, reviews grants for national and international funding agencies and serves on the editorial boards of many international journals. She is also the President of Applied Biotech Inc, in Nigeria and the USA.