Editor's Comment

Youths need mindset change

THE majority of Zambia’s population is below 35 years old. Every year, young people are being churned out of school at various levels – starting at grade nine, grade 12, colleges and universities.
That is why Government has formulated policies to support business and job creation. With the advancement in technology, it is unlikely that the current number of youths can be absorbed in formal employment.
Government, with its cooperating partners, has come up with policies designed to improve youth access to finance and ease of starting and doing business to mitigate social challenges.
Government has come up with a number of initiatives such as skills development for the out-of-school youth, youth resettlement schemes, aquaculture empowerment fund, cargo tri-cycles empowerment programme and information communication technology youth business scheme.
These initiatives are part of Government’s programmes aimed at creating employment and eradicating poverty in the country.
Apart from initiatives being implemented by Government, cooperating partners, civil society and faith-based organisations have continued to prioritise the implementation of empowerment programmes. Most beneficiaries have not utilised the benefits prudently.
President Edgar Lungu said yesterday that evaluations have revealed that most of the youths have not paid back the loans that they received from Government.
Youths have also not paid for various start-up equipment provided to them; or have abandoned the land given to them in the resettlement schemes.
The Head of State said this is very discouraging and has called for a change of mindset among the youth.
There is need for the youths to take responsibility and be patriotic and productive for them to make a positive change.
Most youths fail to pay back loans not because the businesses for which they obtained capital or equipment are failing, but it is because they are playful or simply choose not to repay.
Some youths have taken loan repayment without realising the impact of their failure to honour their obligations.
These empowerment funds are meant to be revolving funds so that not just a few youths benefit, but a lot more youths benefit too.
Given this unfortunate state of affairs, there’s need to hold accountable those youths that have abandoned their respective projects or are failing to pay their loans.
It is also fair to say that those youths who have done well must be praised so that they can act as role models to other would-be beneficiaries.
Youths that fail to pay their loans or abandon their respective projects must be blacklisted from future initiatives.
This measure will also be important to publicly praise youths that excel in their respective projects through the press and social media so that they are seen as role models and that it is possible to succeed.
There is need for the implementers to do a self-evaluation of these projects and find the causes leading to these high failures. Is it because of a mindset problem or is it the criteria used to select the beneficiaries that are wrong?
Probably, there is no prior entrepreneurship training, or the prior training is not adequate.
It’s therefore important to get to the bottom of these problems.

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