The youth are leaders of the future. They deserve to be treated as we would treat any candidate of succession planning in any society, organization, institution, or company. Such candidates are often enrolled in some sort of development programme in preparing them for the future challenges they would face. They could and should include a mentorship development programme.
Mentorship Development Programme could include projects that expose the youth to the opportunity to practice leadership as early as possible in their lives. The most effective programmes are those that are designed by the youth, for the youth, under the mentorship of the elderly and/or experienced members of the society, the institution, the organisation and/or the company.
The effectiveness of youth leadership development and mentorship programmes is seen in the evolving leadership qualities of the youth. Hence, the need to create space in the NGOs, community organizations, and clubs for the youth to practice leadership. The country is encouraged to introduce national youth development organizations, projects and programmes to motivate the youth in taking their leadership development to a higher level.
Mentorship guidelines for the youth leadership development programmes are the basis on which to package the programmes. These guidelines are based on experience over many years, but also the lessons from benchmarking local and international programmes. They evolve over time and are genuinely supporting youth development initiatives.
Programmes that require mentorship intervention could cover diverse areas such as education, community development, art, culture, sport, entrepreneurship, business, etc. They therefore genuinely form part of the country’s real sectors and areas of development need. It is expected that the mentorship programmes be informed by the needs of the society under these sectors and areas. Making resources available for such programmes, including the mentorship programme, should be viewed as an investment in the future.
These youth leadership programmes could take a specialist dimension, for example, entrepreneurship development. Developing the youth in entrepreneurship early in their lives caters for the supply of future businessmen and women. The majority of the youth respond positively to programmes dedicated to entrepreneurship development. The entrepreneurship opportunities are mostly in the technology sector. The 4th Industrial Revolution is the main reason why this is the case. The start-ups in technology by the youth are becoming a norm. This, however, provides a challenge to a number of mentors, as they require an understanding of the context from which these youth are functioning.
Entrepreneurship will always be the most direct option for employment for the youth. As more companies are shedding jobs, more people would see entrepreneurship as the direction to follow. This makes the demand for youth entrepreneurship mentorship grow. The mentors assist the youth entrepreneurs in accessing the markets through their networks. Most governments have entrepreneurship support programmes and incubators. These incubators are making mentors available to the youth entrepreneurs.
It is important for the youth to make a shift and consider entrepreneurship not as a survival means but as an opportunity to innovate solutions that address the challenges in society. Since they are the youth, they are expected to continue paying attention to their holistic development. Involvement in youth entrepreneurship development initiatives must not become the replacement for their education and development. The mentors must continue to challenge the youth to explore many options for their future. We do not expect them to jump certain stages of their development and become adults too soon. They must enjoy their life journey.
The business case for early youth leadership and entrepreneurship development is very strong. We are laying a strong foundation for future responsibilities as entrepreneurs and leaders in society. They could become serious value chain additions in various economic sectors of their countries and internationally. The youth are future business ambassadors of their countries.