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‘Support entrepreneurs as drivers of change’

Cultural factors have limited young people from venturing into entrepreneurial projects, as some beliefs do not encourage youth to be innovative, professionals in Bulawayo have said.

This came out during a discussion on digital aspiration projects themed ‘Preparing Zimbabwe for a digital economy’ held at the NUST American Space last week.

A professional cultural manager, Butholezwe Kgosi Nyathi, said culture had become a way of life, which was difficult to change yet entrepreneurship culture in the country is very limited.

“Our culture of entrepreneurship is very limited, why is that so, it is a legacy of colonialism, which is principally derived from how our curriculum was designed over the years,” said Nyathi.

“We have made it traditional for women and men to qualify by attaining degrees yet instead of encouraging them to be entrepreneurial, we say they must look for a formal 8am to 5pm job. That is how Zimbabweans are psyched up.”

He stressed that since times were changing, the country had to develop an entrepreneurial culture, which should be grounded in school’s educational curriculum.

“To undo this, therefore follows that by default, we have to again go back to the curriculum and see the extent to which we can inspire and inculcate those entrepreneurial values from a very elementary stage. This is from primary, secondary upto tertiary stage, where values and ethos of entrepreneurship must be seen and lived,” said Nyathi.  

The digital advocate, nevertheless applauded the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development, for introducing innovation hubs in tertiary institutions, saying they would improve challenges faced by Zimbabwe.

“The Ministry of Higher Education is spearheading what we call innovation hubs were universities are setting up spaces to promote research, innovation and ideas that respond to the contemporary challenges and socio-economic challenges,” he said.

Nyathi reiterated that his concern was on rural communities and what could be done to equip them with the same knowledge urban communities had advantages to.

“One wonders what space is being created for our rural communities, I then reflected on the demographic profiles of Zimbabwe and the majority of people are in rural areas.

“In urban spaces we have innovation hubs in universities but what does that mean in the context of sustainable development? No one should not be left behind in a digital economy, so these are gaps that have to be filled but we appreciate efforts made so far,” said Nyathi.

He added that equity funding and markets for creatives was what lacked in Zimbabwe, including access to markets, access to knowledge and skills.

“I am happy because the Ministry of Higher Education now speaks the language of education 5.0 which is all about anchoring Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) on cultural heritage so as an arts practitioner myself it delights me to see such initiatives,” said Nyathi.

Educate Managing Director, Terrence Mugova, alluded that most people do not start their own businesses as they had no collateral to help them access loans. 

“For banks to offer loans, they want collateral, this is not something new as it dates back to years ago, a requirement that was adopted by us without understanding the demographic needed to start up businesses. We therefore need to understand that traditional way of doing things are affecting entrepreneurship,” he said.

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