Ghanaian Philip Osei Bonsu, a 2017 Mandela Washington fellow, had the rare privilege of sharing his experience in nurturing entrepreneurs to his compatriots in the United States at the Ignite Talk Series as part of this year’s Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington DC.
Philip was selected as an Ignite Speaker to represent the University of San Diego, California. After six weeks of academic institute, leadership training and networking in 38 Universities across the US, all 1000 fellows converged in Washington DC for the 3-day summit.
Philip, who is concerned about the African continent’s biggest challenge of a growing population with fewer jobs, has commenced an initiative in Ghana’s Western Region, where he’s nurturing entrepreneurs, some of whom have commenced their start-ups.
“In my country Ghana, 48% of the youth (15-34 year olds) have no jobs. This is largely because the Ghanaian system builds job seekers and not job creators. So we have over 300,000 youth leaving our various tertiary institutions chasing for non-existent jobs” Osei Bonsu lamented.
“It is my humble opinion that of all the challenges we need to solve as a continent, the most important one is job creation for our youth. This is the safest and most prudent thing to do in order not to undermine the continent’s relative political and social stability. Unemployed youth are likely breeding grounds for criminals, insurgency and terrorism” Osei Bonsu emphasized.
Making reference to an article he read in 2016 on the website of Financial Times titled “Africa’s population boom is both danger and opportunity”, the writer, David Pilling, amongst other things stated that; one of the great structural changes of the coming decades will be the huge relative shift of the global population to Africa.
Philip, who was intrigued by this assertion, researched further to establish that; more than one billion people live in Africa, and roughly the same as in each of Europe and the Americas, although those continents have stopped growing.
He mentioned that, Africa’s population, by contrast, will double to Two billion by 2050, whereas Asia will also add one billion to reach Five billion — and then stop. Africa he said will keep going and by 2100, its population could easily have doubled again, stating that at least four billion of the world’s Eleven Billion people by 2100, will be Africans, as against the current one billion figure.
“It gets really interesting when you consider the growth in the continent’s youthful population; Africa’s population is the youngest at the moment, with a median age of just 20. That compares with 43 in Europe, and by 2035, more than half of all new jobseekers will be Africans. Africa will thus have the largest workforce in the world by 2035— larger than China and India’s. As a result, 1.1 billion people will need jobs on the continent.”
But the question that bothers Osei Bonsu the most; is how the continent can create 1.1bn jobs for these people in just Eighteen (18) years.
He is however of the firm belief that, this challenge can only be surmounted when the continent focuses on raising entrepreneurs – “creating job creators and not job seekers.”
Osei Bonsu elaborated further on what he had done as a communication’s professional, to raise a generation of entrepreneurs among Ghana’s youth population.
“Ghana’s biggest challenge can thus be summed up in one phrase – Jobs for the Youth. Now, as somebody who fundamentally believes in a world where every youth who is able and willing to work must have a job, I had to ACT. So I put together a team of young and enthusiastic men and women, and for unemployed youth between 15-35 years in Ghana’s Western Region, we provide a platform for skills training, information sharing and networking that enables them to start their own businesses. Our aim is to demystify entrepreneurship and make it attractive to the youth.”
“This is absolutely important because to be able to create jobs for the 48% unemployed youth in Ghana, we need to rapidly develop young entrepreneurs who can create their own jobs – and jobs for other young people.”
In 2016, Osei and his team got 253 youths to attend their maiden entrepreneurship summit, and many others listened and watched on Radio and TV. With the help of our partners, they secured 25 internship opportunities for the first 25 people to arrive at the venue.
So far, 12 participants have launched their start-ups, majority of them in Agribusiness, and Osei hopes to make this an annual event.
In concluding his presentation, Osei Bonsu rallied his Mandela Washington Fellows, some of whom are equally solving the canker of unemployment through various start-ups in their respective countries, to keep at it, and make the continent a better place.
“I share this story with you knowing that this is not just my story, it is OUR story. It is the African Story. A story of how we can change our continent if we decide to take action. I have never been this hopeful about the future of Africa than I am today. Your individual stories make me hopeful. I am certain that 50 years from now, it will be said that our generation changed Africa for good. Fellows, if we individually do what we have to do, if we make the decisions we have to make, then I am confident that just as Senator Barack Obama told a weary America in 2004, ‘out of a long political darkness, a brighter day shall come.”
About the YALI program
Osei Bonsu was among the forty (40) fellows who participated in the United States of America’s (USA) 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship of the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI).
Philip was at Raindrop Marketing, a brands and advertising firm in San Diego for job shadowing.
YALI was launched in 2010 by US president Barack Obama to invest in the next generation of African leaders and nurture them as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.
The Mandela Washington Fellowship takes young African leaders to the United States for 6 weeks of leadership training and mentoring at twenty U.S. universities and colleges in three areas: business and entrepreneurship, civic engagement and public administration.
About Ignite Talk Series
The Ignite Talk series is an exciting feature of the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit. The 3-5 minute, TED Talk-style presentations were a call to action from 40 Mandela Washington Fellows, each representing one of the Institute partners of the program.
Institutes chose their representatives through various forms of competition, with some having their Fellow cohort vote on their speaker, while others had outside professionals or members of the community assist in the selection process.
Presenters were grouped by track – Civic Leadership, Public Management, and Business and Entrepreneurship – and spoke in sessions over two days of the Summit. While many different messages were conveyed, this year’s talks themed around Empowerment, Innovation, and Servant Leadership. The Ignite Talk series highlighted the passion of the Fellows to improve their communities and lead the next generation of African leaders.
Profile of Philip Osei Bonsu
Philip Osei Bonsu is a Corporate Communications Executive, Broadcast Journalist and Entrepreneur. He has over eight years’ leadership and managerial experience in the media and power sector.
Currently, Philip is the Head of Public Relations for the Electricity Company of Ghana in the Western Region, where he focuses on initiating and leading the implementation of Public Relations Strategies that improve the ECG’s corporate image in the region.
Additionally, Philip sits on the Board of Western Waste Limited, a subsidiary of Zoomlion Ghana Limited and hosts Skyy Power FM’s weekend news analysis program, ‘News Review’ on part-time basis. He is also the founder and CEO of OBPR Consult, a PR firm that specializes in Media Communications, Public Relations and Public Affairs.
Previously, Philip served as the Brand Manager of Skyy Power fm and doubled as the host of Western Region’s biggest breakfast show, the Jolly Breakfast Show on the same station. At the corporate level, he worked as the Corporate Communications Manager of Skyy Media Group.
In 2015, Philip was named with 29 other young Ghanaians as a young achiever in the ‘Newaccra Achievers Report’ (See:www.newaccra.com/rise)
Philip is a Tullow Scholar who holds an MSc in Corporate Communication and Public Affairs from the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen. He is also a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow placed in the Business & Entrepreneurship Track at the University of San Diego, California.
Philip is committed to promoting youth development and capacity building in entrepreneurship through the sharing of knowledge and strategic networking. He thus convenes the Western Regional Youth Entrepreneurship Summit to equip the youth with the right entrepreneurial skills to tap into the immense opportunities the region provides.
He hopes to train 10,000 youth in the next ten years. Philip believes entrepreneurs create jobs and boost economies. With many of them, the economic future of Ghana remains bright.
Click to watch a video of Philip’s presentation
By: Ebenezer Afanyi Dadzie