Once again it is scholarship season and opportunities to further your studies are being advertised (if you’re paying attention) on all mediums. Between now and February (2017) annual state and corporate scholarships such as the Chevening Scholarship, Mastercard Foundation scholarships, Fulbright, various Commonwealth Scholarships, Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships, DAAD scholarships and more will be launched for those eager to attain degrees from some of the first world’s leading institutions. Or perhaps you are interested in studying in your own country? Look up the Cameroon Women’s Scholarship .
Either way, if you are one of those considering applying for a scholarship this season, consider this a message of encouragement informing you that there are no magic tricks to winning that scholarship. In fact any magic you may need has been highlighted HERE.
However while there are no tricks to the goal, there are some mistakes to avoid. This post outlines five (5) common mistakes which Cameroonian applicants often make. We hope you avoid them!
5- Not Planning
So your friend shared a link advertising a scholarship and you heard one of your other friends had won that same scholarship a few years back. Must be easy right? So you just apply? Wrong. One of the biggest mistakes you may make during scholarship season is not planning. Most people who win scholarships do so after preparation. They have studied the scholarship, read all the terms and conditions, looked up past winners, researched the degree programs and schools, what is required, what characteristics past scholars shared etc. You rarely get a scholarship by chance; given the long procedure and the in-depth application process, it requires purpose.
4- Looking for the Easy Way Out
Yet another mistake you may be making is cutting corners. Some applicants complain about having to write one thousand (1000) word motivational statements or fill out eleven (11) page application forms. Quite frankly, if a thousand words and eleven pages are too much for you, you shouldn’t be applying for a scholarship in the first place. Any university degree program that scholarship would cover shall entail coursewor
k of at least 2,500 words regularly. Other applicants attempt to copy/plagiarize the personal statements of past winners or have others fill out the bulk of their applications. By cutting corners in filling out your application form you set yourself up for failure at the interview level. Passion cannot be faked, and your personal statement (which essentially presents your passion for furthering your studies and need for a scholarship to achieve this) is defended at your interview. Eventually it will be known if the words written were yours or not. There is no easy way, you either want this or not.
3- Falling for a scheme
You may have seen adverts by agencies offering to get admission and scholarships for you in universities abroad, even assuring you of assistance in getting a visa? A lot of such offers are schemes. Any agency requiring that you PAY to get a Scholarship is suspect. You shouldn’t have to pay an agent to gain admission into a school. The institution or scholarship body will most likely have a direct admission process which you can handle yourself, just go to the school’s website. It’s been proven time and time again that middle men are often schemers.
2- Putting the Cart before the Horse
One of the most common errors witnessed during scholarship season is the error of applying for a scholarship before applying for admission into the desired degree program. This can be considered putting the cart before the horse. Scholarships exist to provide financial assistance to students or potential students. Hence you must establish yourself as a student or a potential student first. Admission into an eligible school is principal to getting a scholarship, it should be put first. With an admission, you can prove you need financial assistance to cover costs associated with the program, without admission what do you deserve financial assistance for?
1- Not Applying
The ultimate mistake you may be making this scholarship season however is not applying. You may be missing out on the chance of a lifetime by procrastinating till last minute, or thinking you need to ‘know someone’ and making a thousand and one excuses for why you won’t get it if you apply.
If you are still on the fence about applying, in the memorable words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: You have nothing to fear but fear itself.
Go for it, and perhaps next year this could be you 🙂
It was a bright sunny morning in Buea. In fact the sun was so bright that it melted away the clouds and Mount Fako was clearly visible in all its majestic splendor. This day was special. Excitement filled the air as we all stood clad in our solemn academic robes, ready to mount the podium and collect that piece of paper which would pave the way for us into an anticipated bright future like the weather that day.
And so we stood, excited to be leaving the campus after four years of a rigors double majors program. It was time for us to go out there and scout around, ready and ever so eager to put all the knowledge acquired those four years to push ourselves, families and country forward. Dreams of jobs practically materializing on platters of gold passed through our minds. After all, we are graduates and the corporate world had better get ready to hire and assimilate us.
Dreams!! Everyone has them I think so we all freshly graduated novices into the job market just had to dream big. And so, we excitedly looked forward to the award ceremony so we could be able to launch our ship and set sail into the waters of the job market.
Reality check! At least in my case! With all those dreams and passion to work, the years steadily began to add. At first I was not very worried. I still had youth to my advantage. One year, two years, three years despite writing applications to every possible place I could think of, the doors were permanently closed. It was as if someone locked all the doors to the job market where I was concerned and threw away the keys.
Four years and no jobs forthcoming. The tensions began. What would I do? There was no pressure from my family thankfully, but how long was I supposed to stay with family? What was the need of going to school all these years to come back to the family? I dropped applications and thought of what I could do to keep myself busy. I searched for schools abroad but everywhere was a dead end. I decided to try ENAM and my hands at apprenticing… tailoring, hair dressing but had to abandon half way. I now decided to put my culinary skills to work and started baking cakes to sell. That too was abandoned after some months. I just felt it wasn’t worth it having just at most two regular customers despite doing all I could to notify people.
Five years and I have made it to assistant CEO of Chomecam. There was just no way I could continue like this. With schools abroad refusing my applications and applying for a Masters Program in UB which list never materialized, I went back to school after five years of rigorous job hunting this time to PAID-WA Buea where I read Development Studies and Human Resources Management.
After one year of rigorous studies, I again entered the job market. I was hopeful that I would pick one easy this time after all; I just finished a top professional program. Well, my health had other plans so for one and the half years; I had to suspend any attempts at job hunting as I had a hospital marathon to run.
At this stage, I have steadily climbed the rank of sub inspector of Chomecam. I mean what else could I say? The years were piling up and I was still moving ‘up and down’ with files looking for work both offline and online. Maybe my approach was wrong but one thing remained for sure, the jobs were not coming.
Ten years and I am still in Chomecam. I am finally the CEO of Chomecam! That is how I spent ten years of my life job hunting. During these years, I felt frustrated especially with all the road blocks I encountered. And the fact that I was now getting older was not helping matters. I could have folded my hands and blamed the powers that be for my plight. I could have equally blamed my family for not using whatever positions they have to get me a job all these years after all; it is the policy of man know man which holds sway in the job market in Cameroon. I could have also blamed that uncle or aunt in the village who had decided to tie my progress with witchcraft. I could have even blamed God for refusing to answer my prayers.
In all these years, even with the frustrations I felt, I didn’t grow bitter. Despite the many road blocks, I didn’t give up fighting. And after every good cry, I picked myself up and tried to figure out what to do. What talents and skills do I have? This is where my writing came in handy. I have always loved writing so just to while away the time while hoping for some doors in the job market to open, I got an exercise book and pen and just started scribbling away and before I realized it, I had a first person narrative of my life as best as I could remember during those turbulent years before me. A good friend helped me edit and found a publisher and that is how I got my first book published and unbeknownst to my friend, it was the perfect boost I needed that trying moment to keep facing life.
Youth unemployment is a nightmare that has plagued many ambitious and brilliant youths into the pits of depression and frustration. The ten years I spent looking for a job didn’t by any chance enrich me financially. Yet, it taught me patience, perseverance and empathy. It helped me discover a unique talent that is proving very helpful today and opening doors for me. It also taught me that in the battle for survival, we should get out there and get our hands dirty and stop blaming the people around us. Reach inside and discover strengths we couldn’t know we possess if we had everything delivered to us in a gold platter. Unemployment is not going away anytime soon but we can do better than wallow if we are ready to rediscover ourselves and take bold calculated risks.
*This testimony is brought to you by Ms. Arrey Echi a passionate Better Breed Cameroon member
I once read a book that said there was a time in England when young people could count all their career options on the fingers of one hand. Clergy. Soldier. Marine. Lawyer. Doctor. Five. That was it. I don’t remember the title of that book. Blame it on me trying to forget the travails of being a youth at the time. But the writer had spotted the five. The only other option was the dole.
I can’t help but wonder what anyone would write for Cameroonian youth today. Not some patriarchal lecture on what the youth should put their time to. Just the plain truth. The truth as it is, no salt, no sugar, no fancy colours. What options are there for the Cameroonian youth? Let me take a dry try.
Concours. Bush. Triple masters. Army. Use-your-head. There are other contenders, especially ‘church entrepreneurship’. But let’s hold our peace on these five.
A lot of Cameroonian jargon in there. Let us decode.
Concours: French word for competitive entrance exam into the civil service. The majority of English speaking Cameroonians know civil service recruitment by no name other than ‘concours’. Cameroon’s government is by far the biggest employer in the country. Recruitment into the civil service gives you a ‘matricule’, a sort of insurance that you have a job and a regular salary for the foreseeable future. Youths naturally seek this safety net. It doesn’t matter to young people if they have dreams that should be fed elsewhere. The trophy of a matricule is a gold standard.
Bush: Bush is short for bushfaller. In Cameroonian lingo, a bushfaller is someone who travels abroad, usually to Europe, America or some other foreign land to work. The word arose from the trend of young people flocking out of the country in the nineties as the country’s economy reached for the abyss and its politics bordered on chaos with riots and ghost towns as building blocks for democracy. Bush is where people go and labour on their farms. So the word quickly took a new meaning. Economic migrant was too cliché and didn’t capture the full meaning. The English language actually has no better word for it. You go to your bush to labour hard. And so Cameroonian youth hijack their parents’ laborious savings, plunging many into debt, to travel abroad or more succinctly fall bush. To hustle in a McDonald’s, to hide from wolf-ish immigration officials or to be abused by hedonist lords in Qatar’s home jails. But many do manage to wiggle their way into a life of opportunity, constant water supply and electricity that doesn’t blink.
Triple masters: I don’t know how this one made its way in my head as a career option. Blame it on experience, intuition and/or intellect. Don’t know which one of them won. But there’s a growing class of young Cameroonians rich with academic epaulets. Many are on their third master degree in a university in the country. There are few jobs. They don’t want to be idle. So they don’t mind the circular loop of handling less than bothered lecturers, taking exams they’re not sure where it leads to but taking the trouble all the same. At least it keeps them out of trouble, while waiting for their future to finally come even if that might mean at forty or worse.
Army: The country is at war. Waging a war against a new type of enemy called ‘terrorist’ for which no conflict strategist has the complete answer demands human resources. Those whose hearts still pump hard for the fatherland, whose knees won’t surrender at the sight of the first body parts butchered by an extremist’s assault can march on. The nation’s soul beckons for its freedom fighters. But there’s little time. Army recruitments have to happen in your very first few years of adulthood.
Use-your-head: Economic crisis. Youth hopelessness. Youth disenfranchisement. A gerontocracy which pats its back after appointing a 48-year-old director as a sign it is involving the youth. An increase in life expectancy leading to old leaders clinging on to power and money, not forgetting the pecks of an extra teenage girlfriend here and there. Elderly people using fraud to trim their ages and stay in jobs. A fearful social security system failing to look after those who retire. Broken morals. Mix all these in a broth. Add the advent of the internet and smart communications meaning the youth hold a technical advantage over the others. What do you get? Use-your-head. This sad career option produces the country’s scammers, fraudsters, who have managed to put the country on the world map of internet crime alongside Nigeria, Ghana, Britain and the USA among others.
England had a sixth option: the dole a.k.a job-seekers’ allowance. Cameroon cannot afford such heaven. But all hope is not lost. A sixth finger is sprouting up, a salvific growth. The young men and women rising up in social enterprise, in tech innovation, in civil society, in activism, in crying out for a new dawn, in plugging the country’s nerve endings into a world Cameroon can tap from and show its sparkling star. They win global prizes despite being ignored at home. The Nazarene predicted that in one of his sermons.
Their hearts beat for Cameroon and theirs is a holy cause for the protection of innocence, a cry for the youth to be allowed to breath and a rallying call for all the country’s souls, green and brown, to stand up and be counted.
Arrey Elvis Ntui is author of ‘Murdering Poverty – How to fix aid‘ https://www.amazon.com/Murdering-Poverty-How-fix-aid-ebook/dp/B019NJAIZA (2016, Sanaga Press)
We’re ending the month of May by beginning a lovely series which will be a regular on the blog. While this site generally accounts for the activities Better Breed Cameroon, we also have the objective of promoting people or initiatives which exemplify our hope for more and better youth development. So every once in a while we’ll take our own works off the stage to shine the spotlight on other associations, other efforts and particularly other young people admirably contributing towards a vision in line with ours: creating a Better Breed of Cameroonian citizens and leaders. The first recipient of our humble spotlight is the amazing Project Ignition.
What you need to know about Project Ignition
By Carlson Nkwain
Project Ignition is a movement aimed at promoting academic excellence by empowering students against examination anxiety, stress and fear.
In our society the status of young lives are greatly determined by academic performance, and in turn academic performance and intelligence are gauged by the frequent examinations. Hence examinations have ability to make or break you- forming the basis of the self judgement, aspirations etc. and often arouse fear and anxiety in young people.
Most students under perform not because they are lazy or lack intelligence, but because they are victims of examination anxiety. As a result of poor academic performance, there is an increase in school dropout rate as well as suicidal thoughts and other desperate actions.
Conscious of the societal impact of academic performance and keen on promoting industrious individuals, the Project Ignition Team under the sponsorship of Dr. SEA™ organized empowerment sessions in five secondary schools in and around Bamenda. This was to enable the students of the examination classes of these institutions have a better understanding and overcome examination anxiety with other challenges. The ultimate aim was to aid the students achieve the best possible results, hence the slogan I Can, I Will, I Must Succeed #Unstoppable which was inscribed on the t-shirts and banner.
The empowerment sessions lasted from the 16th-18th of May 2016 and they took place on the campuses of Acha Baptist College, Belo; Comprehensive High School, Bambui; St Frederick’s Comprehensive College, Mankon; Baptist High School, Mankon and Nacho Comprehensive College, Atuakom.
The sessions comprised of talks and focused groups. The talks were from the team speakers and were centered on; management of fear and anxiety, overcoming past failures, dealing with distractions and time management and prioritization. The focus groups were to tackle the personal challenges of the students at a more personal level. Each student was presented with a Project Ignition Examination Creed to ignite them by boosting their self-confidence maintaining high spirits as they strive to achieve the best possible results. At the end of the 3 day working session, more than 500 examination students were ignited by the Project Ignition team.
Project Ignition is inspired by the personal experience of Nkwain Carlson, the coordinator of the project. Five years ago, he while a candidate at the GCE Adavance Levels, he literally gave up after writing the first paper because of a crippling fear of failure. The team is made of Momo Betrand, Nkwain Gwana and Njong Jessica who all used their personal experiences to aid the students. This was the very first edition of Project Ignition and given their remarkable impact it will definitely not be the last. It is hoped that by addressing fear and anxiety issues, the team will promote academic excellence as well as students mental and emotional health, thus contributing to the personal development of young people.
This endeavor is the epitome of young people identifying a problem (out of their personal experience) and setting out to address this problem. THIS IS THE BETTER BREED! We’re proud of what these young people are doing to encourage and inspire other young Cameroonians.
Contact them via
Find them on Facebook: Project Ignition Cameroon
April 1st 2016 will forever be remembered by many as they experienced their first ever career day in the University of Buea. As early as 7am, representatives from various companies began to arrive to set up their respective stands on the career fair grounds around Amphi 750 of the university. Better Breed Cameroon members and volunteers were there to assist them while polishing up final organizational details. By 8.30am, while there was a lot off buzz at the fair, curious students and invited guests and speakers began to fill academic hall after stopping by the registration desk. 10.00am signaled the commencement of the ceremony, opened and managed by the very able MC – Kathleen Ndongmo. The founder and Coordinator of Better Breed Cameroon, Monique Kwachou welcomed participants and explained the raison d’etre of the Career Day, encouraging them to make the most of it. This ushered in the first phase of panel presentations beginning with Mr. Roland Kwemain, Chairman of Go Ahead Africa, who encouraged young people to believe in themselves and be patient. Next came Mambe Churchill of Njorku who encouraged students to use online educational platforms like Coursera, Udacity, and Skademy to gain extra skills not taught in class, these skills differentiate and attract jobs. A fine mixture of speakers including Dr Ashu Agbor of Gifted Mom, and of course the MTN Cameroon team, thrilled the audience with career and job expectations and readiness. Then it was time for coffee break, during which time students trooped to the numerous stands at the career fair, familiarizing themselves with Cameroonian success stories like Njorku, Teach Connect, Ovamba, Gifted Mom, and to multinationals like ACCA, Ecobank, UBA and MTN.
The second phase kicked off with a new panel of representatives from corporate institutions like British American Tobacco, British High Commission, UBA, Ecobank, ACCA and Ovamba. These corporate high fliers took a personal perspective to explain how they landed in their current jobs, inspiring the audience to realize that career success is possible. They explained vividly what it takes to get and maintain a great job in their institutions and of course anywhere else.
The 3rd panel was filled with entrepreneurs who had started their own companies and were somewhat living the Cameroonian dream. These included the likes of Budi Norbert of Diamond Visions and Afrique Digital, Adeline Sede of FabAfrique, Christian Ngan of Madlyn Cazalis, Yefon Mainsah of IRepCamer, and a host of others. These strong men and women shared their personal entrepreneurship journeys of how they founded and grew their companies, in a bid to give the young audience insight into what it takes to start and grow a viable business. Their words were very inspiring, one could take home adages like:
- “I’ve run a blog for 7yrs. I did not study journalism, I studied Engineering yet my blog is read worldwide.” Yefon Mainsah, IRepCamer.
- “Stop living your life as though it were an accident.” Budi Norbert
- “Start thinking at this moment about what you will do if you don’t get a job when you graduate.” Adeline Sede K, FabAfrique.
- “”You have to be YOU. No one can beat you at BEING YOU” Christian Ngan, Madlyn Cazalis.
- “You go with the rules, you go against the rules, but DON’T BREAK THE LAW.” Dr. Ashu Agbor, Gifted Mom.
In addition to these, various opportunities were presented throughout the forum; the British High Commission presented the Chevening and Cameroon Women Scholarships, Ovamba presented funding opportunities for entrepreneurs, and Mr. Bonie Fon of Bonaventures presented plans to launch an investment club in the University of Buea with a pledge of 1 million Francs for capitalizing student entrepreneurs. The 3rd panel was the last for the day and by 3pm, the young audience was released to yet another surprise: mock interviews and CV scrutiny, critiques and adjustments provided by Better Breed Cameroon free of charge.
The invited guests were treated to lunch from whence they took their leave.
The first edition of the Cameroon Career Day was a remarkable success despite numerous challenges. Better Breed Cameroon sincerely thanks all individuals and organizations that made Career Day a huge success, and looks forward to a bigger and better one next year. We hope to see you there!
by Brian Tamungang for Better Breed Cameroon
Head on over to Better Breed Cameroon’s YouTube page to watch videos from this phenomenal event!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
29 March 2016
A joint brainchild of Better Breed Cameroon in conjunction with Cameroonian institutions of learning and starting with the University of Buea, the event, which aims to smooth the transition between school and the world of work, is a first of its kind.
“Our aim is facilitate students’ transition from school to work by offering professional and practical career orientation from employers, career counsellors and young professionals,”
explained Better Breed Founder, Monique Kwachou. Due to take place on
Friday 1stApril 2016, the Cameroon (Campus) Career Day will present students and recent graduates with the opportunity to interact with employers, career counsellors and young professionals.Cameroon Career Day will also showcase the work of young entrepreneurs.
“Students and recent graduates who have created startups need a space where they present their ideas and products to potential customers and investors. It is very important that these future leaders make the right connections,” said Kwachou.
MTN remains at the forefront of championing forward thinking projects that benefit Cameroonian youth through Entrepreneur-focused programmes like the MTN Innovation Challenge which saw 3 Cameroonian innovators winning 1 million CFA each towards the development of their applications and MTN’s Y’ello Care annual employee volunteer programme won by MTN Cameroon staff. The programme invests in community projects, as recognition of the outstanding and selfless work of its employees.
This year, MTN Cameroon employees received 100,000 dollars which constructed eight classrooms and a dormitory at two schools for visually impaired learners. The team also constructed and equipped three libraries in centres for the disabled. These activities are estimated to have impacted more than 4500 beneficiaries. MTN Cameroon employees also raised more than $18 000 towards the project activities.
“The strength of every winning organisation is its employees, and that is our strength at MTN Cameroon.Winning the 21 Days trophy is a truly humbling experience, and proof of the selflessness and Can-Do spirit of our staff who tirelessly commit to better the livelihood of communities every year,” MTN Cameroon CEO, Philisiwe Sibiya said.
The Cameroon Career Day event has generated a buzz on social media, and attracted interest from various Cameroonian businesses and professionals at home and in the diaspora including US based speaker, author and educator, Dr Nicoline Ambe of Nicoline Ambe International.
Student entrepreneurs who attend this event will be automatically entered into Project GOLA – a competition launched by Kinnaka’s Blog- and two enterprising students stand a chance to win 500 USD each. In addition, other types of funding, mentoring and business tools will be available for the most forward-thinking young people. with beauty treat tickets provided courtesy of at Buea’s luxurious Belle & Glam salon and spa.
Interested student-entrepreneurs are required to email an expression of interest to Better Breed Cameroon at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Thursday 31st March 2016. Mails must contain the following information:
the name(s) of business owner(s)
the company name
a mission statement of said enterprise
achievements thus far and
NOTE TO EDITORS
Better Breed Cameroon is an apolitical, non-profit youth focused organisation which aims to develop responsible citizens and leaders.
For sponsorship, media enquiries and images:
Register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/campus-career-day-tickets-24194325880?aff=es2
Event hashtag: #CameroonCareerDay
The following essay by Ubangoh Thursie Abanjoh- an 18 year old studying for a degree in Management at the Catholic University of Cameroon, Bamenda – won the 1st Prize (of 100.000 FCFA) of the 2016 Sama Randy Youth Write Essay Competition.
Let’s know what you think of this prize winning essay!
Can Cameroonians Entrepreneur their way a brighter future? Why and why not
Essay by Ubangoh Thursie Abanjoh
The root of most successful economies in the world is business. The word entrepreneurship means “to undertake.” In a business context, it means to start a business. Thus entrepreneurship can be defined in simple terms as the ability and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit. Entrepreneurial spirit is made up of innovation and risk taking. This is very essential for the growth of an economy given that the world is a global village. Given the economic situation of Cameroon, it causes one to ponder whether Cameroonians can entrepreneur their way into a brighter future. Is this possible?
Firstly, entrepreneurship or otherwise, business entities contribute to national employment. Entrepreneurship does not only create employment to the business owner but also to those who participate in the business such as the employees. This goes a long way to improve the standards of living of the employees through their income. When members of an economy have a high living standard, that economy is said to be prospering. Therefore, Cameroonians can entrepreneur their way into a brighter future as a result of improvement in living standards.
Secondly, entrepreneurship increases the national income of an economy. Businesses can help increase national income through the taxes they pay to the government and also, they attract foreign capital investment which increases productivity and value addition in the economy thus increasing national income through finances raised. This increment in national income will lead to an increase in economic development like increased government investment on health, roads and education. One can say therefore that, Cameroonians can secure a bright future through entrepreneurship as a result of the increase in national income it brings.
Furthermore, entrepreneurship calls for more entrepreneurship and its benefits alongside it. Cameroon is a dynamic society and the entrepreneurial spirit spreads like a chain of reaction. Once a few Cameroonians create their own business entities and are successful, others are attracted to create theirs. Examples of existing enterprises which have acted as an inspiration and continues to inspire other Cameroonians to become entrepreneurs are Fokou ltd, Guarantee express ltd and Kendely Construction Company just to name a few. Thus once people are inspired and begin to create their own business, so does the benefits of entrepreneurship follow. Therefore, once the entrepreneurial spirit continues to grow along with its benefits, so does the Cameroonian future become brighter and better.
Finally, entrepreneurship does not only bring economic development indirectly through the government, but they also have a direct social impact in the economy through creating and participating in entrepreneurial networks, investing in community projects, and giving to local charities. This thus supports the members of the society psychologically and financially. Therefore, through this social impact, entrepreneurship is able to help better the lives of members of the society through the various investments in community projects like water, health or local road projects thus societal development. Therefore, one can say that, entrepreneurship can help Cameroonians pave a way for a brighter future.
Though, the benefits of entrepreneurship can help Cameroonians gain grounds on a brighter future, there are some things or situations that if not handled, will prevent Cameroonians from securing a bright future for them through entrepreneurship. So, what could be these issues retarding entrepreneurial growth?
Firstly, copyright, patents, and trade mark violations is a threat to entrepreneurship in Cameroon today. People use their efforts and creativity to come up with ideas maybe the discovery of new products, writing of inspiring articles, or creation of a successful brand and others just wait to copy and use these ideas. This goes a long way to reduce the benefits the author of these ideas have on them. This thus discourages most aspiring entrepreneurs as they feel that before they start benefiting from their investments, someone starts reaping them as a result of these copyright, patents and trade mark violations. Thus, since Cameroonians are discouraged to invest in business entities, it is difficult for them to entrepreneur their way into a bright future.
Secondly, inadequate sources of finances have prevented most Cameroonians from putting their entrepreneurial ideas into reality. The foundation of every business is capital. But not everyone has access to capital. There are few investment banks and entrepreneurial support agencies in Cameroon. Also, the banks and microfinance’s give most loans on strict terms and high interest rates which the investor cannot cover. Thus making it difficult for aspiring entrepreneurs to finance their business. Also, those who have little finances are discouraged by the over beaurocracy in creating businesses in Cameroon which open ways for over expenditure and corruption in starting a business. Thus, since Cameroonians are unable to finance the creation of business, it is thus if not difficult, it is nearly impossible for them to secure a bright future through entrepreneurship.
Finally, education that encourages entrepreneurship is a good footing for business creation in Cameroon. But unfortunately, the education system in Cameroon does not adequately encourage entrepreneurship. The educational system in Cameroon is mostly the general education which orientates Cameroonians more towards having white collar jobs. Little emphasis is done in the professional education system in Cameroon. About 70% of schools in Cameroon are in general education and only 30% of the schools are engaged in professional education. Therefore, most of the Cameroonians are not bred educationally in the entrepreneurial spirit and skills. Thus, very few Cameroonians are willing and able to become future entrepreneurs. One can say that, since most Cameroonians have little expertise and knowledge on entrepreneurship as a result of their educational system, it is therefore difficult for them to entrepreneur their way into a bright future.
In conclusion, one can say that, since there is the possibility for Cameroonians to build a firm foundation for a bright future through entrepreneurship, if the few barriers to these successes are removed through the encouragement of professional education in the country by the government, increase support for entrepreneurship through increased availability of finance for aspiring entrepreneurs, also the government can harden the laws on copyright, patent and trade mark protection and also reduce the beaurocracy in creating a business. Once the various threats to entrepreneurship are curbed, entrepreneurship will prosper in the country and thus, Cameroonians will be able to entrepreneur their way into a brighter future.
Below is a brief interview with the 1st Prize winner Thursie!
On the 11th of February Better Breed Cameroon awarded the winners of the 2016 Sama Randy Youth Write Essay Competition. The following essay by Awanto Magaret- an undergraduate student majoring in History at the University of Dschang (pictured within) won the 2nd Prize of 75.000 FCFA
Let’s know what you think of this prize winning essay!
Can Cameroonians Entrepreneur their way a brighter future? Why or why not
Essay by AWANTO MAGARET
“No jobs” has long been the cry of a large number of the Cameroonian population particularly the youths and the graduates. It bears with it the hope that the Cameroonian government should create more jobs for her jobless citizens but it is inconceivable that the government could respond to the job need of every of its citizen especially as Cameroon is a mixed economy which entertains both the public and private sectors. The question here is, what are
Cameroonians themselves doing? What about entrepreneurship? Entrepreneurship is from the French the ‘entreprendre’ meaning to undertake, pursue opportunities to fulfill needs and wants through innovation, this may include an established organization ( Ndedi, 2012) One is said to be an entrepreneur when he assembles the other factors of production such as land, labor and capital to start a production process which involve risks. Its about time Cameroonians adopted United States president Barack Obama’s slogan of Yes, We Can! I think that through
entrepreneurship, Cameroonians can be able to achieve higher levels of national income, innovation, new businesses, development, employment and also less dependency ratio all summing up to a brighter future
Entrepreneurship leads to innovation and social change through entrepreneurship Cameroonians can create with new products, modified brands of goods and services and new techniques. This means more income for the entrepreneur or the worker. This indirectly supports freedom by reducing dependency and obsolete systems and technologies .thus, the overall result is an Improvement in the quality of life plus greater morale and economic freedom. For example the young dynamic social entrepreneur and Cameroonian Alain Nteff, founder of Gifted Mom an e-content platform for pregnant women in undeveloped areas to help them have safer pregnancies and combat the lack of access to good medical facilities and knowledge which has been leading to high mother and infant deaths in Cameroon. This project has led to 200 medical students being trained, 1200 pregnant women Impacted resulting in a 20% increase in anti natal attendance for pregnant women in 15 communities. It is clear that through entrepreneur ship, Cameroonians can have brighter futures like Alain Nteff did for some communities , not only lives were saved but hope too was given to populations of a brighter future for them and their babies.
In addition, entrepreneurship would increase the national income of the Cameroon. Entrepreneurs literally generate new wealth. existing businesses may remain confined to the scope of existing markets and may hit the glass ceiling in terms of income, new and improved offerings, products or technologies from entrepreneurs enable new markets to be developed and new wealth to be created. Furthermore, the cascading effect of increased employment and higher
earnings contribute to better national income in the form of higher tax revenue and higher government spending, which leads to nation building if the budget is well managed. For example, imagine an increase in the national income of Cameroon leads to the construction of a road and some schools. We all know the famous slogan, which says when a road passes, development follows. The construction of that road will go a long way to better that area through increased communication, circulation and business ventures, probably inviting the area to be habituated
steaming economic activities in the area. The school would lead to increase in the level of literacy and probably keep the children off the streets consequently, making the lives of Cameroonians better by encouraging education, enhancing their happiness, giving them hope and obviously leading them to a brighter future.
Moreover, entrepreneurs create new businesses. Path breaking offers by entrepreneurs in the form of new goods and services results in new occupations, which can produce cascading effects in the economy through the stimulation of related businesses or sectors that support the new venture to add to further development. The creation of new businesses by Cameroonians will lead to higher efficiency because the entrepreneur has a goal and many at times the goal of the entrepreneur is to excel in his venture and make profit. Cameroon is endowed with abundant natural resources and Cameroonians have the liberty of choosing any domain they wish to entrepreneur from. Some options are agriculture, arts, entertainment, information communication technologies. Agriculture for instance is dominant in Cameroon and the youths are increasingly joining the sector. Let us use the case of the Ndawara highland tea estate which is the biggest privately owned tea estate In the world and certainly in whole of Africa. Owned by the Cameroonian Baba Ahmadou Danpullo. This estate is good example of the power of entrepreneur ship. It employs over a thousand Cameroonians and has given the population something to live on , reduced the dependency ratio, Increased the living standards of its workers and their families, reduced crime wave; reduced hunger and increased the chances of education of the children thus leading to a brighter future.
Some argue that Cameroonians cannot entrepreneur their way to a brighter because entrepreneurs are not encouraged by the government. More so, exorbitant taxes are levied on entrepreneurs and this discourages other Cameroonians who aspire to be entrepreneurs. They also not the stressful and time-consuming process they go through when trying to get approval for their enterprise, plus the administrative bottlenecks and constrains. True, it is not easy to get past the all these process to get your business started. However, measures have been taken by this same government to reduce administrative bottlenecks by making it possible to register an enterprise at the regional level without necessarily going to the capital Yaoundé. In addition, the government encourages entrepreneurial ventures especially in the domain of agriculture and also boosts new ideas and innovations with the role of the non governmental organizations, philanthropic associations, religious associations and the ministry of small and medium –sized enterprise, not to mention the funds provided by and to these associations and groups.
Others claim using science that Cameroons cannot entrepreneur their way to a brighter future because they have limited knowledge about entrepreneurship and do not have the skills needed to make the achieving entrepreneurs. Such people totally reject the idea of entrepreneurship as headway
and advocate for technology and science.
Some say the only way forward is through good leadership. These claims are all true however, entrepreneurs in Cameroon no longer have limited knowledge thanks to workshops and seminars organized by philanthropic groups, non governmental organizations and some ministries. Furthermore, Entrepreneurship has been introduced as an obligatory course in all higher institutions for all students in every faculty. More so how can science and technology take us to our desired future if we do not entrepreneur in them? Like young Alain Nteff did, he combined technology, science and entrepreneurship to start his association. In addition every Cameroonian is a leader, why look up to others to deliver your future to you when you yourself can, what we need is a population of good leaders and not
just a good leader.
Entrepreneurship is as vital as blood to the sustainability of the human body. It would not only provide more jobs for Cameroonians but hard-work and purpose would be encouraged. The creation of new businesses would mean more income for some families, lesser rates of dependency and reduction in the gap between the rich and the poor. Thus, entrepreneurship with all certainty would definitely lead Cameroonians to a brighter.
Upon receipt of her award, Margaret was interviewed and had this to say:
On the 11th of February Better Breed Cameroon awarded the winners of the 2016 Sama Randy Youth Write Essay Competition. The prize winning essays will be shared one after the other begging from the 3rd Prize winning essay of Mbah Angwah Furt of Saint Monica University below:
“CAN CAMEROONIANS ENTREPRENEUR THEIR WAY TO A BRIGHTER FUTURE? WHY AND WHY NOT?”
As the Cameroonian economy continues to integrate due to globalization and as formally closed economies such as China and India move towards total liberalization, entrepreneurship is on the increase. Therefore, it is the objective of this paper to critically analyze the probable reasons why entrepreneurs could boost Cameroon to a brighter future.
Individuals often result to entrepreneurship in Cameroon for one of the following reasons; they find a market niche and have a way to profit from such a niche; they have been unable to find a suitable employment or suitable means of income and therefore have resulted to using their creativity to generate an income for themselves. Irrespective of which of the above led an individual to become an entrepreneur, it is clear that innovation and creativity are the driving factors and therefore, it can be stated that the biggest impact of entrepreneurs in Cameroon would be the innovative contribution that they make. Entrepreneurs often create new technologies, develop new products or innovations, and open up new markets. There are many examples of radical innovations introduced by entrepreneurs such as Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google) Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple) and Larry Ellison (Oracle), just to name a few.
Radical innovations often lead to economic growth. Entrepreneurs who bring innovations to the market offer a key value-generating contribution to economic progress. Compared to incumbent firms, new firms invest more in searching new ideas because of the fear of being swallowed up by superior firms.
By establishing new businesses, entrepreneurs intensify competition for existing markets with already established businesses; this will cause players in the market to re-evaluate their operational capabilities. Thus costumers benefit from the resulting lower prices and greater product variety. And one of the greatest advantages of increased competition to the economy would be that individuals and firms will continue to find methods that can better improve their operations, use resources more efficiently, and reduce costs while adding value. All this will result to an increase in productivity, and an increase in the gross domestic product (GDP) of the nation. This will indeed benefit the economy.
Competition in the market can cause saturation and as a result many entrepreneurs maybe driven to seek new markets for their products, which will be considered as a positive impact to our economy. As integration of economies continues due to globalization, entrepreneurs will tend to look for markets that are outside their domestic spheres, thus generating foreign revenue there by increasing the prosperity of the economy as a whole.
As stated earlier, one of the main reasons that individuals become entrepreneurs is because they are unable to find suitable jobs. As a result, by being enterprising, creative and finding a market niche, not only are they able to generate an income for themselves, but they are also able to employ other individuals in their business operations. Therefore, one of the most positive impacts that entrepreneurs can make on the Cameroonian economy is job creation and the reduction of unemployment levels. In developed countries, we see that almost 40 – 50% of the workforce is employed in small and medium scale business size enterprises that were started by enterprising individuals.
While this might be a very simplistic explanation of the why and how Cameroonians can entrepreneur their way to a brighter future, it is also safe to say that; the employment generation, increased competition, market expansion, market penetration and sourcing new markets would all result in income generation that ultimately can help our economy to become more prosperous drawing millions out of poverty and generating funds for social welfare activities that ultimately will uplift the living standards of its citizens.
But all the reasons mentioned above why Cameroonians can entrepreneur their way to a better future are not guaranteed, thus it is also arguable that this very promising future which can be brought by entrepreneurs is almost a mirage which can almost not be met. As we see in our country today, only few people have the drive, skills and funds to become entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs share certain traits such as creativity and high tolerance that comes with the uncertainty that comes with developing a new business. Four personality characteristics are particularly important for succeeding as an entrepreneur: willingness to take risks, openness to experience, belief in their own ability to control their own future an extroversion, and very few persons have all or most of such characteristics in our society.
More so, a substantial risk of failure accompanies entrepreneurship. Failure rates are high within the first five years of starting a business, and there are several reasons why many new businesses fail and close. Not everybody has the right character traits to become a successful entrepreneur. Other impediments to success are restricted access to capital, lack of customers, and discouraging regulatory hurdles, including unfriendly entry regulations and difficult and time consuming requirements for registering property and obtaining extending licenses or permits which may discourage entrepreneurship. Over-regulation of commerce prevents entrepreneurship from flourishing because it increases the costs of starting a business and decreases flexibility and the ability to react quickly to opportunities as they arise. Also, frequently changing complex unclear or opaque regulations and corruption in Cameroon make it hard to understand the legal environment for entrepreneurial activity. Thus if intellectual property rights are not adequately enforced, this adds to uncertainty which can build up to prohibitively high levels that discourage any potential innovator. Corruption may make entrepreneurs unwilling to trust the institutions that are necessary to protect intellectual property rights.
Sometimes, over-regulation can even make entrepreneurship impossible by restricting or prohibiting entry into certain sectors of the economy through strict control of licenses. Permits and licenses can act as noncompetition agreements. Over-regulated markets turn potentially productive entrepreneurs towards unproductive non-wealth-creating activity. Due to the fact that there are many potential markets for high-tech innovations all over the world, innovative business deterred by over-regulation in one market can go elsewhere.
It has also been observed that some businesses fail because of poor understanding of the market and sometimes lack of management skills. This is most common with younger entrepreneurs. Besides lower educational attainments, these include less work experience among young entrepreneurs than adults and fewer links with professional networks. Interestingly, though young entrepreneurs in Cameroon sometimes underestimate the lack of business skills as a barrier to entrepreneurship,, while- less surprisingly – they recognize the lack of finance as the key impediment, thus when they have the necessary finances, they venture into businesses with very large chances of failure. But there is also a big fear for the plundering of resources which can have disastrous effects on the environment in the long run.
Based on everything discussed above, it is seen that Cameroonian entrepreneurs can ensure Cameroon a brighter future, but there are some shortcomings which might hinder, or slow down the growth of entrepreneurship and the benefits that will go along with it; thus realizing these advantages that come along with entrepreneurship will require institutions which can encourage entrepreneurs
The government needs to regulate the administrative burdens that come along with establishing a business; this includes the time to register a business, the number of bureaucratic steps, and the number of regulations, fees, and reporting requirements. This will allow entrepreneurs to operate flexibly, and their entrepreneurship activities will be able to respond easily to the market. It is also important that these laws are implemented fairly and evenly
Start-up subsidies should be considered to foster entrepreneurial activities, as well as training programs for potential entrepreneurs which will focus on technical, managerial and financial literacy. These can reduce the risk of early business failure.
If regulatory burdens are reduced and corruption eliminated, Cameroon will encourage and retain their own entrepreneurs and even attract investors from other countries. Thus, it can be concluded that Cameroonians can entrepreneur their way to a better future, if and only if the policies can adjust a regulatory environment in favor of entrepreneurship.
Mbah Angwah Furt is aged 19 and currently enrolled for a B.Sc in Petroleum Engineering at the International Institute of Petroleum Studies (IIPS) of Saint Monica University Buea in the Southwest Region of Cameroon.
He had this to say upon receiving his prize:
We’re pleased to announce that this year’s Sama Randy Youth Write Competition has come and gone successfully.
This year we received over thirty submissions from universities all over the country and even received an entry in French! The judges did an awesome job in using the limited time to narrow down our top three winners.
As proof that this year’s campaign had a vast outreach, each winner hails from a school in a different Cameroonian region!
Our 1st Prize of 100.000 FCFA has been awarded to
Ubangoh Thursie Abanjoh
An 18 year old undergraduate Management student of the Catholic University of Cameroon, Bamenda in the Northwest Region
Last but certainly not least, the 3rd Prize of 50.000 FCFA is to be awarded to Mbah Angwah Furt aged 19 and currently enrolled for a B.Sc in Petroleum Engineering at the International Institute of Petroleum Studies (IIPS) of Saint Monica University Buea in the Southwest Region!
Congratulations to them all.
Congratulations to those who tried as well. The effort was commendable and the competition stiff!
We also say a very big ‘Thank you’ to Big Steps (a fellow youth-led, youth empowerment initiative focusing on issues of health) which partnered with us by increasing the award money for this year’s competition.
Awards were handed to the winners on 11th February, Cameroon’s Youth Day after a celebratory lunch by our coordinator Monique Kwachou, our newest active member Melissa Longla, and Ashoka Changemaker scholar Gabila Franklin
Within this week we shall post the award winning essays with some note on their importance and judges comments as to why they won. Stay tuned!!!