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 🙂
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 email@example.com 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
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:
Note: This month’s blogpost is an excerpt from Better Breed’s “What Next?” Publication. It is dedicated to all those students who just completed the A’ Levels and are looking forward to grander things. Please share to someone you know….
Does school ever end? Well, yes it does, but learning shouldn’t. You did know that right? And do you know that learning is something that should make up most of our lives irrespective of if we are in a classroom or out? Now don’t get worried, you may be through with high-school but not with learning. You should never be through with that! You may wonder why? Well the answer is simple. To stop learning would mean you stop using your brain. A lot of people confuse learning with being schooled. They are wrong, but hopefully with the help of this newsletter you won’t make the same mistake.
If you are reading this you have probably just completed High-school, wrote the A-levels and between resting and forgetting all that you crammed to write, you may occasionally be thinking about what’s next. Well this is going to help you. You see you should not just “occasionally” think of what next, you should plan for it. Remember the saying often repeated before GCE “Proper preparation prevents poor performance” ? Guess what? It applies to all aspects of life, not just the GCE.
Yes, you need to prepare for what’s next. High-school is definitely not the end of education (learning as we established before never ends) But the question is what is next after High-school? If you don’t know or you automatically say “University” well then just keep reading you need a lot more info!
There are a lot of options on how to further your education after high-school (you will see a list of some options in Cameroon on pg5&6). The main goal of education is to equip the student with skills which they could use productively to support themselves and be functional in the society. There are other objectives of course, but that is the main reason we go to school. So that we can have what we need to work. Knowing that we get educated to eventually work and support ourselves, isn’t it funny that so few of us know what we want work as?
Have you ever thought about it? What would you like to be employed as in the future? You can’t know what you have to study, how you should study, where you should study, whether at all you should study until you know what you want to be! Its your goal that determines how you get there.
It is after knowing exactly what you want to be that you can tell when your time in school ends. You see, someone who wants to be a Medical Doctor (General practitioner) can estimate seven more years of school after High-School and he or she would need to enroll in an accredited (recognized) Medical school to achieve this goal.
But to become an accountant you may need to go to business school instead or enroll in an accounting department of a university and could achieve their goal in four years. And someone who wants to be a professional driver may not need any of the above, but rather six months to a year of Driving School to know how to drive different vehicles from a taxi to a shipping trailer. So you’re done with high-school? It is at this turning point in your education that you will need to make decisions that will impact the rest of your life. There are no quick answers or notes to cram so as to “get it right”. You will need to search yourself, find out what you are good at, what would fulfill you and what you can imagine doing everyday for most of your life.
When you know what that is, you have more work; find out how to achieve that goal, seeks advice form people who are doing what you wish to do in future. At this point you will have to seek your knowledge to pass life’s test, there are no teachers to hand the notes to you as to what choices to make.
So you’re done with high-school? Welcome to the Real World
As the world prepares to pay tribute to the unsung heroes and heroines that have had so much of an impact in the lives of everybody living on earth today come October 5th 2014, many of us sit and reminisce about our school days. We had favorite subjects, teachers and even favorite hang outs around school campuses. Back then, learning was fun because teachers made sure that you learn, retain and have fun. This was quiet easy as those where the generation of teachers who truly made the profession noble with their passion and selfless dedication. Today, from the most acclaimed president to the billionaire entrepreneur all had one person to help pave the rough roads and hedges and make them smooth rides to success and that one person is the teacher. A “please sir” or “please, madam” as many were called.
These please sirs and madams didn’t also hesitate to take the cane aka mulongo to the way ward child. These mulongos no doubt helped beat many a student back into shape. Furthermore, many of these teachers encouraged curiosity and feeding our starving minds and brains by encouraging us to dare to read and explore books beyond the class room exam only routine prevalent today, which no doubt has played a major role in helping many of us retain what we learned two decades ago or more. Yes those where the days of teaching.
Nowadays, those going into the teaching profession lack that calling, that passion. Many see it simply as a means to make ends meet. Small wonder that schools today flounder, student performances and attitude towards school has taken a dismal downward spiral. Many schools are understaffed and lack unqualified teachers especially as many shy away from duty posts because of the number one problem plaguing the teaching profession prolonged delay in salaries especially for young graduates still struggling to build their lives.
That notwithstanding, as the world celebrate October 5th and gives odes and tributes to these vital members of society, problems plaguing the educational milieu are still rampant. Poorly trained teachers who cannot even pronounce words infiltrate the class rooms and leaves the students more depressed than challenged. Better Breed Cameroon seeks to redress this situation and by working in close collaboration with some few selected schools, is out to make a difference. This difference is readily noticeable with some of its laudable projects such as the BETTER BREED reading project. Since we believe reading is a tool that can best be used to change society and encourage critical thinking, this corner is aimed at doing just that with the collaboration of a few selected schools for starts. Are teachers a major part of this fight to rear a better generation of better breed individuals? The answer is a solid yes. Join us to salute the light bearers and pace setters of any generation especially a better breed one.
If you are a typical Cameroonian youth, this is the run down on your life.
You are born; you go to nursery school, primary school, secondary school, high-school, university and then after graduating with all these certificates. You join the thousands out there looking for a job. They tell you: Welcome to Shomencam– the fictitious company of unemployment where non-workers walk their shoes to death “hustling”.
This is your life. But it shouldn’t be. Yes, there should be jobs, but then even if there are jobs, what tells you that you are qualified for them? All the certificates? Those are nothing but paper printed on and credited etc. But in our competitive society you need a lot more than that to impress.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not belittling education. It is necessary very necessary. But it is not enough. It is not enough to have knowledge you need to have the experience of putting that knowledge to use. This is one of the reasons for which programs such as the youth corps in Nigeria is in place for those who have just graduated, and internships are required by some departments at higher institutions such as the University of Buea. We don’t have a youth corpse like the Nigerians do, and internships of one month required to pass a course do not suffice when it comes to gaining experience needed to make one stand out of the average.
However there is a better way. Volunteering.
To volunteer is to opt to undertake a job or offer your service for little or nothing. Why would you want to work for no pay? For the same reason you go to school, to learn. You see, when you volunteer you are actually paying for your learning with your labor rather fees as you do with a school. By volunteering, you gain professional experience, and practice at putting your knowledge to use.Often when applying for a job, a requirement is a certain amount of working experience. And the fresh graduate of Shomencam wonders how he/she is ever going to get working experience if he/she doesn’t get the job first. Volunteer.
When Should You Volunteer?
A good time to volunteer is while still a student. It is very possible with time management to work and go to school. If you can volunteer briefly during the long holidays of High-school then you may be able to test yourself as to what career you appeals to you most.
While in the university you may begin volunteering from your first year; either alongside going to school or during the long holidays. With the experience gleaned over the course of three to four years of the university you would have a great deal of experience to build an impressive CV by graduation. And enough confidence and practical know-how alongside your knowledge to get your self employed or become and entrepreneur yourself.
Alternatively if your program is too strenuous as is, you may take a year after school to volunteer in one or two places.
Where Should You Volunteer?
As a student you are limited to areas around your school. Be it the hospital, a credit union, an NGO or Newspaper. Think of your career choice, and apply to an organization or institution in your locality that would help you gain skills needed to boost yourself into that career path.
As a graduate you have the choice to go farther out of your region. You can volunteer in bigger organizations and institutions from UNESCO and CARE in Yaounde to international volunteering projects via the African Union Youth Division.
Wherever you decide to volunteer, apply well in advance of the time you want to begin, so you give your application time to be processed. And make sure it is a field which would boost you in your career choice and in which you truly have a passion.
Why Should You Volunteer?
Here are the top five reasons:
1. Gain Job Experience.
With volunteering you gain professional experience which cannot be taught in the classroom, Some things are learned only on the field.
2. Meet Real Community Needs.
Volunteering is the easiest way to be a part of national development. By volunteering with a community based organization, you become conscientious of your peoples’ needs and are actively working at making things better
3. Gain Entrance to College.
Volunteering noted on your CV or a motivational letter improves your chances at getting a scholarship and entry into graduate schools. Sometimes even more than your grade point average.
4. Meet New People and Establish Friends, Connections and References.
By volunteering you “put yourself out there” You open yourself to networking, to know and be known.
5. Gain New Skills and Develop Talents.
In the course of volunteering you will most likely learn new skills and find that what you thought was the right career for you may be the wrong one. It is a process of self discovery and personal growth.