Together with Boundless Minds Uganda, our short blog series will focus on the workplace post COVID-19.
Youth employment, skills training and job creation are at the forefront of both organisations. According to recent reports COVID-19 will impact young people in Sub-Saharan Africa the hardest, the aim of this series is to equip all stakeholders with information, expert advice, and a dose of inspiration.
Our final guest contributor, CK Japheth, a start-up ecosystem builder, innovator and leader is the Founder of The Innovation Village Uganda; a launchpad for Ugandan entrepreneurs.
- Tell us about your work?
My 26-hour day, 8 days a week job is to build an ecosystem that supports Uganda’s most promising entrepreneurs to start, grow and expand their ventures. I do this through The Innovation Village which has grown to become a launchpad for entrepreneurs across the country now with locations in Jinja, Gulu and Mbarara. Our work ensures entrepreneurs have the capital they need through KAIN & The 97 Fund, have access to partners and market through the Future Lab, the relevant technology infrastructure and also have the community to learn and grow together. We have also most recently taken a plunge into the creative space by working with the Mastercard Foundation to create MOTIV; probably East Africa’s largest creative playground that will give over 500 young people daily an opportunity to learn, be tooled and access market in verticals including food, fabric, wood, metal, film media and entertainment.
All the work we do, is to unlock the potential of this generation in a way that is commercially sustainable and at scale.
Why is mindset such an important aspect of work and life?
Mindset is not just important, it is probably the only important thing for work and life. Mindset is what determines how you look at anything and everything. Mindset is what decides if you will go on or give up, if you will look at what is left or what is taken from you. What is important to note is that mindset is also developed and needs working on to be strengthened.
What does resilience mean to you and how has this helped in your life and career?
To me resilience has been the fiber of a lot of my work. It is having to go on even when there is little evidence that things will work. It is the deep appreciation that all of us are unique and have something to offer and whereas that is true, the journey to offering it is not going to be an easy one. When we first started The Village, we had no idea what we were doing (some people still believe we don’t know) but we knew there should be a better way to support entrepreneurs. What we do now has been a 3-year journey of becoming and it has taken a lot of movement from uncertainty to clarity of purpose. Resilience calls on all of us to boldly go.
Would you briefly discuss some of the really great attributes in terms of mindset and resilience that you have come across where young people are concerned?
I think a great attribute I meet in almost every young person is the passion and the need to help. They go on to form small organizations and startups, charities and NGOs to support the most vulnerable among their communities. I commend this spirit because the desire to make a difference is the first real step required for anyone who will go on to make it. That is mindset. I think the most impressive thing with most of these young people in most cases is that they put up their hands to help when it is them who really need the help. It shows their love for country and community.
A lot of the conversations I then have with them is about helping them figure out practical approaches they can begin to adopt to ensure they are delivering value for long periods of time in a way that is sustainable.
In thinking about the future and the changes that are inevitable, what sorts of mindset do you think young people are going to need, to be resilient?
An important mindset young people will need to be resilient is long term thinking. It is said that we overestimate the amount of change that can happen in a year and under estimate the amount of change that can happen in 10 years. Personally 10 years ago I was a teacher of Economics. In a decade, I have had an opportunity to start off a career in consulting with the CEO Summit, grow to become Head of Talent at UMEME, and ultimately now living my dream at The Innovation Village. Approaching the next decade 2020-2030 with more deliberateness, there is a lot we can achieve. That means we can have one or two even three bad years but if we remain consistent in the direction we are heading, we shall achieve our aspirations.
Young people should therefore not interpret temporary situations to represent the future as they will make decisions that are most likely to affect them for the rest of their lives. Even though a lot can change during a decade, young people need to know that this takes extremely hard work. I have mostly worked 15 hour days for the last decade.
What mindset should we adopt post COVID-19?
Without taking away the gravity of COVID especially because while we were flattening the curve we ended up flattening businesses instead, I believe it is time for young people to develop the mindset of asking what they can do for our country instead of asking what country can do for them. A lot of lives and livelihoods have been affected by COVID19 and the path to recovery is a long one. Given young people are the majority in the country I hope they choose to be a beacon of hope to others around them. It is not easy but the alternative is much worse.
Join the conversation on our social accounts #WorkPostCOVID19, stay tuned for the rest of our series.