“Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” – Luke 2:19
There is an organisation in Johannesburg South Africa called “Young & Able” which started operations in 2003. Its mission is to help young people live up to their potential by discovering their purpose. Its aims are to (1) inspire youth to realise their potential, (2) develop their confidence and character and (3) assist them to determine their goals and take concrete steps to get there.
Their customers are young people who are serious about their future and are usually members of churches, youth groups, youth centres, schools, higher education centres and correctional services for youth. The organisation is committed to offer the best possible service to help young people of South Africa discover and live out their full potential.
There is a similar organisation in Barbados, the Community Development Department which is a department in the Ministry of Social Care, Constituency Empowerment and Community Development. Sandra Greenidge, Chief Community Development Officer, kindly invited me to give the feature address at the closing ceremony of the Community Development Department’s Information Technology summer programme for teens (ITS for TEENS). Sandra said the programme, for the age range 14 and 18 years, was one for which parents were always grateful because it presented their children with constructive activity over the summer break, and as such the department was always brainstorming on ways to expand it to incorporate more students. The sponsors LIME and Fund Access were also part of the celebrations where 240 certificates and a number of awards were presented to participants, interspersed with high quality entertainment from youth in the 12 community centres which were participating in the programme.
The students were well supported by their parents at the closing ceremony whom I am sure were reflecting on the lyrics made popular by Frank Sinatra “Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you; if you are young at heart”.
The programme is in its 5th year and coordinator Bridgette Marshall-Griffith said that, in addition to individual projects, students have to do group video projects on HIV/AIDS, drug awareness and bullying. These like the individual projects were of very high quality.
Pastor Reginald Cato of the Wings of an angel Ministries, who gave the invocation, shared with me before the event began that his church, based in Regency Park in the Parish of Christ Church, boasts of congregation of over 70% young people and he continued that he was always amazed at the talent among these individuals waiting to be released and shepherded to sustainable success.
Very often we are told, especially among small island states, that they are at a disadvantage because they do not have any resources. May I remind you of Singapore which has grown into a very successful nation not withstanding its lack of natural resources. Like any other country it has people and more importantly it recognizes that “our people are our greatest asset and we must develop them to the fullest”. The foundation for all of their development strategies have been based on this tenet. Why not start with the youth.
It was very interesting to learn of the ITS for TEENS initiative and I was heartening to see what is being done to achieve the three aims above. The Master of Ceremonies, Archillus Weekes a Barbadian media personality, kindly referred to an article of mine where I cited Dr Deepak Chopra’s concept of slowing down, through meditation, our dynamic ongoing thought processes to the point where we can observe the gap between thoughts. If you can achieve this, then in the gap you will find a universe of infinite possibilities. He went on to encourage the youth to invent and innovate and then turn these concepts into sustainable commercial realities.
My theme was business health care and I concluded my address with a ten step preventive business heath care plan: (1) Think up an idea, as you have been encouraged to do in the summer programme – become an inventor; (2) Convert the idea, maybe in partnership with others into a product or service that can be sold – become an innovator – the enterprise selection process; (3) Build your team, you may have to partner with others – this leads to the development of the corporate governance business system: (4) Identify the needs of the market place – this is where you will get your revenue and develop your product or service to meet the needs of your customers – this is the marketing business system; (5) Sell the product or service: start small, do it right, make a profit, then expand – this is the role of the entrepreneur; (6) Keep the unit cost of your product as low as possible – this is done through increasing productivity, which can be done in 3 ways (staff training, process flow and technology), and cost containment – the operations business system; (7) Seek a shepherd and business advisors – a team that can give you good business advice and who may prevent you from making unnecessary mistakes –shepherding process; (8) Motivate, train, appraise and promote staff – human resource development business system; (9) Seek sources of investment finance – the investment finance business system – the venture capital investment process rather than the tradition loan system: (1) Practice good management – set the objectives of your plan, organize your resources to execute your plan, select your staff and position them in your organisation structure, motivate and train your staff, execute the plan and monitor the results on a regular basis – use the ManOBiz Matrix™ dashboard and shepherding tool.