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Young Entrepreneurs Asked to Help Shape Liberia's Future

Young Entrepreneurs Asked to Help Shape Liberia's Future
Young Entrepreneurs Asked to Help Shape Liberia's Future

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William Kamkwamba of Malawi was just 14 years old when he built a windmill to provide his parents' house with enough electricity to read and listen to radio. 

Now, and with young people bearing the brunt of Africa's underdevelopment, the idea of youth innovation and entrepreneurship may be gaining traction.

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Jefferson King, a young Liberian who recently learned a civil engineering degree from Cornell University in the U.S. state of New York State, co-founded Youth Overcoming Underdevelopment Nationally and Globally in Africa. 

King leaves for Liberia next month to start a project that encourages young Liberians to start dreaming about solutions to their national problems.

King said his project is motivated by the example of young Kamkwamba of Malawi.

"A 14 year-old kid in Malawi was able to build a windmill just by reading a general book about windmill. He was able to use that to build a windmill to power the radio and light bulbs in his home. I think, we, Liberians we have the mind to do that too. We just need the motivation to get there," he said.

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King said his group will encourage young Liberians to come up ideas that improve their communities. 

He said the project will be promoted in three steps – motivation, resources and competition.

"The first is motivation; we'll get an extraordinary young Liberian in Liberia who is going to basically serve as role model to the Liberians to show them we can solve our problems here too. We can think of brilliant ideas," King said.

He said his group will organize a competition and give monetary prizes of $2,000 to a young person with the best idea and $1,500 for a second place winner.

"Basically we are challenging people, come up with any idea that you think will benefit your community to solve whatever problem you see there and submit it," King said.

King said the project will be launched in the north central Liberian city of Sanniquellie in Nimba County.

"As you might know, Sanniquellie was where the Organization of African Unity was started. So where the Organization of African Unity started, we're starting Young Africa. We are going to spread throughout Liberia and throughout West Africa," King said.

He said the project might cost about $10,000 and that the group has so far raised about $5,000 from individuals who have each donated $100.

"The pilot is only $10,000 for Nimba County. All the money we've gotten so far has been from individuals, then after that we will start canvassing trying to advertize to the corporate world," he said.

King said the Friends of Liberia, an organization of mostly former Peace Corps volunteers who once served in Liberia might also contribute to funding the project. <!-- IMAGE -->

 

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