Consider this statistic. By 2035, the number of Africans who reach working age will exceed that of the rest of the world combined. Additionally, the majority of Africa’s population is young and up to 60% of them are unemployed. This phenomenon is what is known as the ‘youth bulge’. While some see this youth bulge as a ticking bomb, we at Higherlife Foundation see it as an opportunity to drive development across our continent.
We believe the youth are critical to driving the economic and social structural transformation of Africa. They are the energy and creativity of the future, and the source of Africa’s coming renaissance. Current leadership in Africa has failed to deliver the growth our continent needs, thus the time has come to tap into this rising generation who have the passion and desire to change our continent for the better.
To transform young Africans into future leaders, there needs to be a radical transformation in the way African societies consider youth participation. We need to develop our youth into capable leaders through youth empowerment and leadership development programs that equip them with the tools and mindsets to transform their communities.
Higherlife Foundation has been in the business of raising leaders for the past 20 years. Building on this foundation, we set out looking for new leadership development models to raise, empower and equip the future leaders Zimbabwe needs. It was in Israel that we learned the most formative lessons and models for how to equip and train young leaders, and incorporated these models into our design of the S.T.A.R Leadership Academy – a training ground for Zimbabwe’s rising leaders.
There is an old African proverb that says: “Where the young know is where they believe it’s raining.” ‘Translated into the present context, it means that Africa’s youth will engage where they are guided to engage. If they are enabled to start their own businesses, they will. If agriculture is made more attractive to them, they will drive this untapped cash cow. If their tech skills are harnessed, they will use these for the good of the continent. Through the STAR Leadership Academy, we will give our youth the opportunity to learn how to be forces for positive change.
With a plan to build ten academies across Zimbabwe over the next five years that will “empower a generation of young Zimbabwean leaders to assume responsibility for the future of their society, and their nation,” the S.T.A.R Leadership Academy will develop a cohort of leaders for the Zimbabwe that we envision in the future.
The Academy offers an intensive educational and experiential learning program that will equip the selected young leaders with the leadership skills, knowledge and vision they need to be change-agents for a better tomorrow. Two academies will open in January 2019:
- STAR Leadership Academy — Academy for Leadership: leadership development for students aged 16-18 followed by the two year International Baccalaureate program.
- STAR Leadership Academy – Agriculture: an intensive one-year post-graduate leadership training program accompanied with agricultural training experience. Agriculture is the most inclusive economic sector that can accelerate socioeconomic development.
To ensure we selected the best students for the Academy, we ran a bootcamp at ZESA Training Centre recently where 280 students from across Zimbabwe came together for a three day intensive program. Sound exciting? It was much more than that. It was exciting, inspiring and first of its kind. Stay tuned to hear more about the bootcamp and our plans to grow the next generation of leaders in our next edition.