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The youth today

Nowadays, it is not uncommon to hear adults complain about the many behaviors of today’s youths. The youths of today are usually characterized as having limited regard to Ethiopian cultural and social values. What these values define ranges from the way one should dress to the way one should behave in social settings. But the Ethiopian youths are no exception when it comes to the trending of values from national ones to more global ones. I believe that the advent of the internet should take most of the responsibility for this. But the Ethiopian youth are not only criticized for their limited regards to Ethiopian values.  Be it in the music industry, the film industry, the business sector or the academic sector, the youth has much to be criticized about. In the business sector, they are commonly blamed to follow the get-rich-quick plan that often involves dishonest means. These days, the youth are not believed to be academically driven as those in previous generations. Although I tend to agree with many of the remarks made about the youth, I also believe that the strengths and qualities that today’s youth have should be given recognition.

It is true that times have changed. The youths today are more exposed to the world then they were decades back. Social media has provided to the youth an opportunity to open their minds to new perspectives on things, to question the status quo and to unleash their potentials for creativity and innovativeness. The entrepreneurial spirit of today’s youth is in my view incomparable to that of past generations. Being your own boss at the risk of uncertain income is what most would prefer these days. You might say that the limited opportunities for lucrative employments and the expensiveness of life nowadays is driving the youths’ entrepreneurial spirit. This might be true. But I also believe that today’s youths are passion driven and in constant search for new challenges in life.

Recent statistics show that nearly 60% of the Ethiopian population is under the age of 25. It is a fact that this segment of the population represents a large base of untapped resources, which if properly exploited can bring far-reaching positive impacts on our nation’s economy. The question is, how can this segment of the population be optimally utilized? An endless list of strategies can be identified. In my view, a strategy that is able to make an optimal use of the youths’ innovative ideas is indispensable.

I am a particular proponent of what is called ‘Angel investing’ in finance. What this basically is is the investment by high net-worth investors in start-up businesses with innovative and high-return business ideas.  A typical characteristic of this type of financing is that it is very high-risk but if directed at the right start-up can bring in large profits. I believe there are young people all around the country that have ideas that are worth millions of birr but lack the financial means to turn these into profitable businesses. A program providing locally raised Angel finance to support exceptional and high impact agribusiness ideas has recently been launched by Eleni Gebre-Medhin (PhD). The name Blue Moon comes from the very fact that the ideas being supported are as rare and exceptional as the appearance of a blue moon. I believe that the initiative taken by Eleni is a very commendable one and one that should inspire many wealthy investors to make a profitable use of the brilliant minds of the youth. Apart from the investor and the investee, the society at large benefits from such initiatives in terms of innovative solutions to societal problems.