The principles of the free-market have worked quite well for most of the Western world. Trading on stock exchanges, allowing people to do business, buying and selling, becoming wealthy, acquiring comforts and security – these are all benefits of the free trade most westerners are accustomed to.
Getting use to something and then losing appreciation for it is also a reality amongst most people. People will travel overseas to visit the museum in your city you have never visited, others will appreciate the beautiful sunsets from the hill of your village where you seldom take the time to go. Yes, it’s true, we get use to things, many things and then we don’t utilise and appreciate its wonders, opportunities and beauty anymore.
I think I am quite accurate in saying that most people are not utilising the free-market system they live in daily. In Africa we have primarily two different mind-sets. The one tend to be more “seasonal-natural”, the other more “colonial”.
Combining entrepreneurial thinking with these mind-sets (paradigms) can be very discouraging. The seasonal-natural mind-set comes to entrepreneurial thinking with a complacency, a hakuna matata, a mind-set of abdicating responsibility and a fundamental philosophy that “we don’t have worries”. This mind-set incapacitates us economically to believe that “even if we fall behind schedule, we can do it tomorrow” and in any case – what we don’t get done today doesn’t matter because “tomorrow is another day”.
The colonial mind-set on the other hand places itself above the natural-seasonal and grabs back to a higher power like “the motherland” – always believing their “background” or “where they came from” will come and assist when nothing else is successful. This mind-set can be equally discouraging in the face of a passionate desire to create a generation of entrepreneurs.
Both these mind-sets are not conducive to developing entrepreneurs that can utilise the availability of the free trade they experience daily. The natural-seasonal mind-set doesn’t think about the day of tomorrow therefore they seldom plan ahead. And like you know, some wise man said, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Talk to the visionaries and they will tell you, “Without vision people perish”.
The colonials grow up in a different complacency – someone or something else will look after me, I don’t have to “go out and create the future I would like to see happen”. “As long as I protect what I have I am safe and cared for”.
According to this description of mind-sets found on the continent of Africa, it is quite accurate to say that here in Africa we need a paradigm shift, a fundamentally different way of looking at the world. We need to re-assess the way we look at money and business opportunities and adapt that which does not fit the paradigm of entrepreneurial thought.
That sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? NO, its not! Because we need a paradigm shift, a change of mind-set on a fundamental level, we have big challenges.
Before it becomes too overwhelming, let me assure you that nothing is impossible for the one who believes. As an African, born in Africa with a heritage of white colonial forefathers who was confronted with the seasonal-natural mind-set of Africa I can assure you that here in Africa it is possible to make such a paradigm shift.
Allow me to let you in on one of the secrets of changing a paradigm.
Whenever you want to facilitate change, whether it be a small change like drinking no sugar in your coffee or a big change like joining a cult you need knowledge. Ever heard the saying, “knowledge is power”? Well in this case it is true as ever. You need the knowledge of the new paradigm in order to be able to embrace the new paradigm. You cannot embrace anything unless you know about it. The more you understand something the better you can function in it.
Teaching people about being an entrepreneur is the first step in moving people, whether they live in the natural-seasonal mind-set indigenous to Africa or the colonial mind-set of Europe, from being on-lookers to being participants in the free trade. Yes, you heard me right. The first secret to fundamentally shift people’s way of thinking and eventual behaviour is to teach them, to train them, to give them information in such a way that they grasp it, accept it and eventually embrace it.
Holcim (the cement manufacturing giant) in association with us are in the process of embarking on a journey to bring about such a paradigm shift amongst the people of Southern Africa. Holcim believes that whether you have a natural-seasonal or a colonial mind-set you can be empowered to become an active player in your country’s economy.
As part of Holcim’s investment in the future of Southern African countries they have decided to start this entrepreneurial development in Windhoek, Namibia. They are implementing an Entrepreneurial Development Programme that was developed by a team of entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs have academic backgrounds and experience in Entrepreneurial Studies and Human Behaviour.
This training starts the middle of 2007 and will last as long as people are empowered and enabled to actively participate in the respective economies of their countries. Yes, the whole idea is to get people, especially young and unemployed people to develop an economical mind-set that liberates them. Liberates them to participate in their countries’ economies.
As I said, the first step to bring about this change is training, education and empowering people with information, knowledge, a new mind-set that is as old as the western culture itself.