Rise of the Afree generation


Deemed as the generation to bring prosperity to the African continent by founder of the African leadership academy Fred Swaniker, the Afree generation are paving the way to purposeful business within Africa.  Lead by generation Y, Afree generation is a combination of social leaders and entrepreneurs who create businesses and inventions that tackle social issues within their communities. As stated by the African Economic Outlook, the African youth forms more than 60% of the continents population with only 45% accounting for the labour force. In an interview with Segun Olagunjo the head of Entrepreneurial Leadership Factuality at the African Leadership Academy, he explains that the African youth is driving the rise of social entrepreneurs because of the fundamental framework of young people continuously dealing with social issues on a daily. The role of Maslow’s hierarchy falls into play, ‘young people are tackling social problems because that’s what they need to do to survive’. The under 30 generation did not grow up with the structure of school and the certainty of finding a job after graduation. However with that spared in mind, young people are forming an alternative outlook to creating their careers and businesses.  Inventions such as the Cardio pad, Africa’s first mobile system to transmit a cardio signal over mobile network , engineered by Cameroonian Arthur Zang who is 26, paints a picture of how young social entrepreneurs are combining innovative ways of thinking to solve everyday issues within their surroundings. The cardio device allows for heart examinations such as electrocardiogram to be performed in remote rural areas in Cameroon. The shift in the Afree gen’s perspective on traditional business and problem solving sees the youth creating possibilities of transformation in areas that have been stagnant to modern change.

Ethical leadership in business is a key component for the Afree generation, this is conveyed by schools such as the African leadership academy in Johannesburg which aims to develop young African leaders. The development of young social ethical African leaders will be soon accentuated in tertiary level with the opening of The African leadership universities. Fred Swainker stated that the aim is open 10 of the best universities that are at international standard in various countries such as Kenya and Nigeria within the next 15 years. The branch of grooming ethical African leaders is also connected to the formation of associations such as The Butterfly Project, which moulds young social leaders and entrepreneurs in rural areas in Uganda.  The programme is based on the priming of ethical leaders who are empowered by bettering their lives through positively changing their surroundings. The drive of generating social change is further encouraged through inner trading on a continental level, platforms such as the African leadership network promote the sharing of ideas, incentives and solutions among young social African entrepreneurs, this creating a hub of continental cohesion. The support of social entrepreneurs is not a new exercise, within organisations such as Ashoka, Schwab foundation and LifeCo-Untld, cater to the sustaining of social businesses through rewarding and finical assistance.   The Anzisha competition caters to young social entrepreneurs and leaders between the ages of 15-22 years, the competition provides funding to help young leaders sustain their businesses and projects. Started by the African leadership academy, this further provides a platform for the organisation to support and up root the Afree gen leaders.

As the world continues to shift and change, so do we see the role of young people evolve. The Afree generation are an innovative, creative collective who are not just inspired by the possibility of change, but also the motion of change they are creating within their communities. The vast impact lead by the Afree generation will be a lengthy progressive journey but as Fred Swainker positively declares that there has ‘never been a better time to be young and in Africa’.

Khumo Theko is a fashion design and trend analysis graduate from LISOF. Currently working for a South African fashion brand, while expanding on experience in writing and trends analysis on a freelance basis.


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