A champion for change and prosperity, AFRILINK has begun the important work of bringing lasting life to small businesses in Africa by giving young entrepreneurs the armor they need to thrive, and then flourish. President Ahuma Adodoadji talks about the challenges and hopes he has for this new and exciting enterprise.
As founder and CEO of AFRILINK, your outlook for young African business and eliminating countrywide poverty is confident. Why have you invested yourself into this cause?
In three decades of work in the humanitarian and development field, I have learned that appropriate action can lead to improving the condition of the poor. I have also discovered that releasing the entrepreneurial capacity of people any where in the world leads to even more powerful change.
I have seen examples in Asia, Africa and Latin America. In fact, many Africans are enterprising but lack a supportive environment to reach their full potential – – this is evident in the thousands of enterprises in the “informal sector” across Africa. Complicating the situation is the sight of thousands of college-educated youth who roam the streets of African cities without employment opportunities – – this challenge presents an opportunity to change the paradigm. If we can use enterprise to fight unemployment and poverty – -this is sustainable. So at AFRILINK provide young Africans the support that enables them to create employment for themselves and their communities. This is why I am invested in this cause.
Right now AFRILINK is focused on developing business incubators in Ghana and Kenya. What qualities of these countries make them opportune targets for business growth?
To succeed, I needed to start in countries that I know well and strong personal network. Second, these two countries have a large pool of college- educated youth without employment; third, there is a strong connection to USA an understanding of the free enterprise culture, but they need support to make it happen; and fourth, youth in these countries are open to receiving help – – lessons learned in these countries can be modified and replicated in other African countries.
Were you mentored as a young entrepreneur? What, would you say, is the value of mentoring in business communities?
I have received mentoring over the years in my career. The value of the mentor is that they are a person who has been in your position before, understands the challenges you face , have found solutions that they are able to share with you . They provide a relationship of trust. Overall, mentoring in business helps to avoid mistakes that could destroy an otherwise promising business.
What challenges to entrepreneurs face before entering a program like AFRILINK?
There are many challenges, but the most prominent are: Lack of business expertise (e.g. marketing, strategy, planning), limited technical skills, lack of understanding of finance ( e.g. managing cash flow), and lack of access to affordable credit.
The organization looks to donors and volunteers to help build its influence. What message would you like to send to potential donors about the reach of their contributions?
Your partnership as a mentor or donor will change the live of African youth in a sustainable manner, for instance, if you invest your dollars and time in a young African with a small business that employs 4 people and they grow their enterprise and double their employees, they create a wage earner who puts money into his community and that contributes to economic activity. Our vision is several hundred “small businesses” that make a social impact – – creating employment and fighting poverty in their communities – – you are helping make sustainable change.
For more information on how you can become involved in making a change, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org