Kindly introduce yourself to us
My name is Esther Neema. I am an entrepreneur, artist and a Pan-Africanist. A journalist as well. I have the greatest faith in our ability as young people to impact our world greatly. I am certain that the more passionate people we have, we can influence some change.
So Esther, youth are crying due to lack of employment. According to you, is this really a major concern or are the youth not fully exploiting their potential? And what is the way forward?
There are two ways to look at it. One, we can see it as a situation outside of ourselves. That is we have no control and can do nothing about it, and instead remain helpless. Or two, we can take the bull by the horns and choose to be the ones who change this narrative. We can be innovators and entrepreneurs who change the world or we can get in to leadership and influence policy.
Not all of us are entreprenuers by birth/nature. What does the future hold for us, now that we are not that gifted to start our own ventures, considering the unemployment crisis?
True, it is not easy for sure. Before empolyment became a part of us, everyone was doing barter trade. Everyone was selling something. It means in each of us, is the extra ability to be able to sell something. For the men when you want to marry a lady, you are always selling yourself, buying the lady some food and gifts. For the ladies, we dress ourselves, so that we can be spotted.
In life, we are always selling ourselves. Being young is a gift, there are millions of possibilities. We are talented beyond measure. We are gifted, and no one should tell us otherwise. One thing I came to learn a little late, we have the greatest potential, if we dared to tap in to this potential. We have to believe in ourselves, what we are capable of achieving. Remember when you were little, with big dreams. Why should those dreams be limited to someone giving you a job or not.
So how are you, as Esther and through your ventures, tapping into the youth to realise our potential?
Every young person must start with a journey to self discovery. Do you know if 10 of you come together, you can form your own company together? Working alone is hard, that is why a lot of people give up, but the talent which you are missing, another person has it. Which means that if you are not talented in sales, but skilled in creating something good, you can partner and together you create something even better.
Know yourself. Who am I, what do I like? Where do I want to go, and how will I get there. This journey will inspire you to start. I have started many businesses before, and I have failed at some, but I keep doing it. Your idea is everything. It is special. Give it a try, share it with people, you never know who it could impact.
Is capital (finance) a main factor to be considered when you are to start your own venture? Or does it come later?
Capital is wonderful. It is great. It helps you go about your business faster, but sometimes you don’t have it. That is why sometimes you work for some money in order to raise it, or get support from people.
I don’t believe there is lack of opportunity, there is plenty, for those who are ever looking. Keep looking. For example, a service is a skill done with your hands or eyes. These are things we all have. Giving of services to people, you get paid for it. It costs nothing. Money is good, but what if you don’t have it. Certainly, when you come up with a solution to the everyday problems that we face, everybody wants a piece of it.
For work, people don’t like to volunteer or Intern, but sometimes it is the only way in to employment. It is a long route, but many people have gone this way.
Should interns be paid? What is your view?
My CV is very fat. It is nearing 20 pages even. It’s like a book. Those have been many years of experience from as many people as possible. Mainly free. Those have been many years of building expertise, in a way, it is paying back now. What you do for free, comes back in the form of a whole lot of money, than you can imagine, later in life or even immediately.
There are many organisations refusing to give internship, because they don’t have a budget, so they only take one. But what if it was possible to take as many people to learn, that way they leave as experts. But, I would say it depends on at what stage you are doing your internship. I think there comes a stage in one’s life, one needs to stop interning and just start to work. Believe that you have learned enough to start.
So Esther, do you believe that the solution to our problems as youth, lie in ourselves?
Yes it does. It is we who are pained by these situations. Do you see many of us frustrated and in depression? Those are our friends, our sisters and brothers. Why don’t we take a chance and come togther and come up with innovations. It why I say, young people, beleive in yourselves. We are capable. We are strong talented. Don’t hold back at all. Find a way to think of yourself as a solution, never part of the problem. We need to ask ourselves, what can I do about this? How can I help? How can I be useful?
What is your parting shot, Esther?
I would challenge each of us, to dare to imagine, and even more, dare to believe in our dreams, as well as the ability to achieve them, and if we do, we just may achieve them. My belief is, everything starts with a dream, then it is followed by action. Take a chance and God will bless the works of our hands.