BusinessDay
NigeriaDecides2023

Rebuilding hope for Africa’s youth

From South Africa’s Soweto Uprising to Egypt’s Tahrir Square Uprising, some of Africa’s most significant movements have been spearheaded by the youth, specifically by students. With statistics positioning Africa as the world’s youngest continent by demographic, it is no wonder that this narrative remains consistent to this present day. It is no secret that Africa’s destiny lies in the hands of young people and the choices they will make in this era. Hence, it is exciting to come across individuals who are passionate about investing in these young people and preparing them for the realities of the world we live in. One such individual is Ghana’s Tom-Chris Emewulu, a young man whose displeasure with the system and how it was failing to serve graduates prompted him into action.

“Our story began in a little classroom at Radford University, Ghana, late 2013. I was in my second year of a B.Sc. degree when I read a report stating that of all 66,000 students who graduate in Ghana, only 3% could find formal employment within one year. With a desire to change the narrative and armed with my experience building a thriving retail business before college, I invited my friends to join forces in bridging the gap between education and industry.” says Tom-Chris about the moment in his journey that called him to action. This led him to create his platforms, Stars From All Nations (SFAN) and later ReadyForWork.africa.

SFAN is a social enterprise that educates young people and prepares them for entrepreneurial and employment opportunities by building the capacity for qualified graduates to better position themselves for the job market. According to Tom-Chris, “on average, it takes a university student six years to find their first job on the continent.” His view is that the challenge for Africa’s youth “lies in integrating young people into the workforce. There is a big disconnect because even as Africa’s economy expands and domestic demand increases, youth employment has not”. His take on addressing this is what he calls “Africa – focused” and “globally-minded,” as he believes that “it doesn’t matter whether you’re a boy or girl; whether your IQ is 170 or 17, the key to startup success is in serving a user’s need in ways that make sense to the market. And people are people everywhere. If you understand what your prospects need and create an EPIC solution they can’t ignore, they will come to you.”

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This need to strategically position young Africans by transforming them into solution providers led Tom-Chris to evolve his social enterprise into a more focused vessel, ReadyforWork.Africa. ReadyforWork is an immersive digital career accelerator that uses AI & ML to equip entry-level job seekers with employment skills and help talent managers make data-driven recruitment decisions. Through the synergy of SFAN and ReadyforWork, Tom-Chris has been able to raise USD250 000 in pre-seed capital and continues to offer all resources free of charge to those who need them most, to reach 5 million young people by 2030.

“I started SFAN as a way of picking up my frustrations in a system that could not empower its young innovators and repackaged those disappointments to build an organization that fills an incredibly significant gap in the social ladder.”

His dream and his vision are driven by a hope to see African excellence manifested through his impact, “Excellence is the fundamental principle for any organization and even individuals that hope to remain relevant in these times. And, to me, that means we not only do things right but ensure our works can stand the test of time.

With demonetization in technology and resultant automation and digitization of work making access to talent and platforms easier and cheaper, gone are the days when folks played by African standards. We must now think globally and raise our standards. We must now ensure that our talks and works are in perfect alignment.

“I tell my students to immerse themselves in global conversations and live beyond their environment. There’s no controversy because it’ll still be orange if you take an orange from Ghana and plant it in Nigeria, Kenya, C ⁇ te d’Ivoire, or the UK. A good farmer will condition their environment to ensure the orange seed grows to be good.”

Tom-Chris is doing his part in sowing seeds of excellence that will sprout and bear fruit as Africa’s reality tomorrow from the foundation by capturing our bright young minds while they are still fresh, hopeful, and optimistic.

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