On the 11th of February Better Breed Cameroon awarded the winners of the 2016 Sama Randy Youth Write Essay Competition. The prize winning essays will be shared one after the other begging from the 3rd Prize winning essay of Mbah Angwah Furt of Saint Monica University below:
“CAN CAMEROONIANS ENTREPRENEUR THEIR WAY TO A BRIGHTER FUTURE? WHY AND WHY NOT?”
As the Cameroonian economy continues to integrate due to globalization and as formally closed economies such as China and India move towards total liberalization, entrepreneurship is on the increase. Therefore, it is the objective of this paper to critically analyze the probable reasons why entrepreneurs could boost Cameroon to a brighter future.
Individuals often result to entrepreneurship in Cameroon for one of the following reasons; they find a market niche and have a way to profit from such a niche; they have been unable to find a suitable employment or suitable means of income and therefore have resulted to using their creativity to generate an income for themselves. Irrespective of which of the above led an individual to become an entrepreneur, it is clear that innovation and creativity are the driving factors and therefore, it can be stated that the biggest impact of entrepreneurs in Cameroon would be the innovative contribution that they make. Entrepreneurs often create new technologies, develop new products or innovations, and open up new markets. There are many examples of radical innovations introduced by entrepreneurs such as Pierre Omidyar (eBay), Larry Page and Sergey Brin (Google) Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple) and Larry Ellison (Oracle), just to name a few.
Radical innovations often lead to economic growth. Entrepreneurs who bring innovations to the market offer a key value-generating contribution to economic progress. Compared to incumbent firms, new firms invest more in searching new ideas because of the fear of being swallowed up by superior firms.
By establishing new businesses, entrepreneurs intensify competition for existing markets with already established businesses; this will cause players in the market to re-evaluate their operational capabilities. Thus costumers benefit from the resulting lower prices and greater product variety. And one of the greatest advantages of increased competition to the economy would be that individuals and firms will continue to find methods that can better improve their operations, use resources more efficiently, and reduce costs while adding value. All this will result to an increase in productivity, and an increase in the gross domestic product (GDP) of the nation. This will indeed benefit the economy.
Competition in the market can cause saturation and as a result many entrepreneurs maybe driven to seek new markets for their products, which will be considered as a positive impact to our economy. As integration of economies continues due to globalization, entrepreneurs will tend to look for markets that are outside their domestic spheres, thus generating foreign revenue there by increasing the prosperity of the economy as a whole.
As stated earlier, one of the main reasons that individuals become entrepreneurs is because they are unable to find suitable jobs. As a result, by being enterprising, creative and finding a market niche, not only are they able to generate an income for themselves, but they are also able to employ other individuals in their business operations. Therefore, one of the most positive impacts that entrepreneurs can make on the Cameroonian economy is job creation and the reduction of unemployment levels. In developed countries, we see that almost 40 – 50% of the workforce is employed in small and medium scale business size enterprises that were started by enterprising individuals.
While this might be a very simplistic explanation of the why and how Cameroonians can entrepreneur their way to a brighter future, it is also safe to say that; the employment generation, increased competition, market expansion, market penetration and sourcing new markets would all result in income generation that ultimately can help our economy to become more prosperous drawing millions out of poverty and generating funds for social welfare activities that ultimately will uplift the living standards of its citizens.
But all the reasons mentioned above why Cameroonians can entrepreneur their way to a better future are not guaranteed, thus it is also arguable that this very promising future which can be brought by entrepreneurs is almost a mirage which can almost not be met. As we see in our country today, only few people have the drive, skills and funds to become entrepreneurs.
Entrepreneurs share certain traits such as creativity and high tolerance that comes with the uncertainty that comes with developing a new business. Four personality characteristics are particularly important for succeeding as an entrepreneur: willingness to take risks, openness to experience, belief in their own ability to control their own future an extroversion, and very few persons have all or most of such characteristics in our society.
More so, a substantial risk of failure accompanies entrepreneurship. Failure rates are high within the first five years of starting a business, and there are several reasons why many new businesses fail and close. Not everybody has the right character traits to become a successful entrepreneur. Other impediments to success are restricted access to capital, lack of customers, and discouraging regulatory hurdles, including unfriendly entry regulations and difficult and time consuming requirements for registering property and obtaining extending licenses or permits which may discourage entrepreneurship. Over-regulation of commerce prevents entrepreneurship from flourishing because it increases the costs of starting a business and decreases flexibility and the ability to react quickly to opportunities as they arise. Also, frequently changing complex unclear or opaque regulations and corruption in Cameroon make it hard to understand the legal environment for entrepreneurial activity. Thus if intellectual property rights are not adequately enforced, this adds to uncertainty which can build up to prohibitively high levels that discourage any potential innovator. Corruption may make entrepreneurs unwilling to trust the institutions that are necessary to protect intellectual property rights.
Sometimes, over-regulation can even make entrepreneurship impossible by restricting or prohibiting entry into certain sectors of the economy through strict control of licenses. Permits and licenses can act as noncompetition agreements. Over-regulated markets turn potentially productive entrepreneurs towards unproductive non-wealth-creating activity. Due to the fact that there are many potential markets for high-tech innovations all over the world, innovative business deterred by over-regulation in one market can go elsewhere.
It has also been observed that some businesses fail because of poor understanding of the market and sometimes lack of management skills. This is most common with younger entrepreneurs. Besides lower educational attainments, these include less work experience among young entrepreneurs than adults and fewer links with professional networks. Interestingly, though young entrepreneurs in Cameroon sometimes underestimate the lack of business skills as a barrier to entrepreneurship,, while- less surprisingly – they recognize the lack of finance as the key impediment, thus when they have the necessary finances, they venture into businesses with very large chances of failure. But there is also a big fear for the plundering of resources which can have disastrous effects on the environment in the long run.
Based on everything discussed above, it is seen that Cameroonian entrepreneurs can ensure Cameroon a brighter future, but there are some shortcomings which might hinder, or slow down the growth of entrepreneurship and the benefits that will go along with it; thus realizing these advantages that come along with entrepreneurship will require institutions which can encourage entrepreneurs
The government needs to regulate the administrative burdens that come along with establishing a business; this includes the time to register a business, the number of bureaucratic steps, and the number of regulations, fees, and reporting requirements. This will allow entrepreneurs to operate flexibly, and their entrepreneurship activities will be able to respond easily to the market. It is also important that these laws are implemented fairly and evenly
Start-up subsidies should be considered to foster entrepreneurial activities, as well as training programs for potential entrepreneurs which will focus on technical, managerial and financial literacy. These can reduce the risk of early business failure.
If regulatory burdens are reduced and corruption eliminated, Cameroon will encourage and retain their own entrepreneurs and even attract investors from other countries. Thus, it can be concluded that Cameroonians can entrepreneur their way to a better future, if and only if the policies can adjust a regulatory environment in favor of entrepreneurship.
Mbah Angwah Furt is aged 19 and currently enrolled for a B.Sc in Petroleum Engineering at the International Institute of Petroleum Studies (IIPS) of Saint Monica University Buea in the Southwest Region of Cameroon.
He had this to say upon receiving his prize: