Africa Needs More Millionares – Not AID Workers

Africans should get off the AID band wagon.

What we need is for Africans leaving school to make profits. We don’t need more NON-Profit organisations!

Imagine how crazy it is for poor nations to have almost everyone getting educated rubbing their hands in excitement at the prospect of spending their lives doing NON-Profit work, when in all rich economies, people clamour to get into business for PROFIT, INNOVATION and ENTERPRISE.

They frantically look for goods or services that people might need, and fight for venture capital financing by proving that their idea will use the least money and produce the most profit!

We on the other hand have such gaping holes in our markets for all sorts of goods and services and yet the NOT-for -Profit route is what appeals to many of us. Call it intellectual sloth, or perhaps it is just being rational to choose the perks of NGO employment. But if the primary unit of economic activity and growth is individual economic growth, then we need as many people making profits (i.e. trying to find the most efficient way of spending our country’s savings to create more wealth) for our economy to grow.

We have to reject AID and encourage entrepreneurship and provide incentives for business in our countries.

In non-profit work and in government ventures the measure of success is how much money has been spent on a project (you often hear politicians bragging about the size of the project in terms of spending as they doll out taxpayers’ money – it is never their personal money).

On the other hand, the measure of success in a for-profit venture is invariably the size of the difference between what was made and what was spent, and the expectations of future profits when people buy company shares. The aspiration is to increase efficiency, find better ways to do things – faster, easier, cheaper – so that customers remain dedicated to their products. (There are benefits for everyone: owner, employees and customers)

We need to regard our problems as profit making opportunities rather than angles with which to beg from the West. That means getting off the paternalism of Western charity so that we can own and solve our problems.

About bulletsandhoney
I read my first book when I was three, then my second one a few weeks later. It has carried on this way for decades with only temporary distractions of eating, fighting, loving, heartbreak and other such irrelevant biographical details.

13 Responses to Africa Needs More Millionares – Not AID Workers

  1. DazzlinDino says:

    Very well said. Although the aid money sent has helped, better managed it would have gone farther and done more……

  2. Well said. I could not agree with you more about the need for us to identify and exploit profit making ventures which in my opinion are available.

    However, if the economic climate remains as it is in Kenya it is unlikely that anyone to engage in any meaningful business that will realize “real” profits. The high cost of money remains one of the major factors slowing down our otherwise hard working people.

    I feel that the government needs to put a lid on interest rates in order to make money available to local investors(this I know goes against economic sense in a free market set up)and to encourage the setting up of local (as opposed to foreign aid oriented)micro-economic finance companies.

    More kenyans out of jobs can be turned into an advantage by tapping into this pool of well educated people able and willing to build and run businesses that will employ more of the unemployed.

    Our government needs to critically look at job and wealth creation and do something!! Not just write sessional papers that gather dust on shelves. Our MPs think creating wealth is improving their own living standards. They as far as I am concerned are quilty of crimes against the Kenyan people.

    I ask them and the government..
    GIVE KENYA A CHANCE.

  3. MMK says:

    dazzlindino – Thanks for your somment. There is little doubt that the money could have been spent better and made a more positive impact. But this would not have solved our problems because aid can never be more than a band aid for Africa’s problems. Once in a while, the aid mavens usher in a new technocratic regime that promises to use the money more efficiently and responsible. But these are promises that have been going on for decades, all using the same mantra of transparency, conditionality and anti-corruption and almost none delivering in the final analysis.

  4. MMK says:

    Kenyan Kukekamba – I hear and agree with what you are saying. The government does need to rein in interest rates, but not through legislation or regulation. Interest rates have been made high by government borrowing which means that banks have a greater incentive to lend to it rather than to the businessman whose credit will never be better than that of the Central Bank. Less borrowing, which means trimming the size of the government, would make more money available to lend to average mwananchi.

    The government as the route to wealth for the majority of Kenyans has been tried for almost half a century with dismal results. It is when it has gotten out of the way that more people have worked to become better off.

    Let me give you a stark example of a way that government action destroys lives. The recent deaths from alcohol poisoning caused a lot of talk about the police cracking down on illegal liquor dens. But do you know why so many have to drink in those dens? Of course it is because the legal stuff is too expensive for them. Yet a large part of the price you pay for a tusker is the tax that KBL must pay the government! And where does this money go? To a bloated bureaucracy and of course to buying ‘healthy’ champagne for the politicians. If the taxes on KBL and the other legal brews were lower, it would mean that fewer people would be blinded or killed by the down-the-alley liquor.

  5. Loud and very clear brother!
    But the question of who we will entrust to make these ‘painful'(to our selfish politicians) decisions on downsizing cabinet and government still begs.My contention has always been that we have brains and resources that are forced to stagnate as a result of gov’t policy.
    Quick and radical changes need to take place or else we will continue to inherit self serving, corrupt and useless leaders.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What does Aid have to do with the investment climate? Are these two things related? If they are the relationships are superficial and weak at best. This is serious overreaching and intellectually dishonest. Rejecting Aid will give us a warm fuzzy feeling but the reality is that it will not compel African regimes to do anything to help their folks.

    The reason there are very few real millionaires in Kenya is because of the government’s failure create an investment climate and reign in corruption. You acknowledge this your self.

    How will stopping the save the children, make the Kenyan politicians and beauracrats care about their continents? How will that stop the myopic tribalistic cultural practices of the Kenyan people? Cultural practices that cause them to value more about their leaders tribal background than his/her ability to work?

  7. Anonymous says:

    In the 1990s when the government did not get any foreign aid, the govt. borrowed locally and bond rates went though the roof, banks were making a killing lending to the govt. Banks could care less about lending to the local folks. Now that the govt. is getting aid and cheaper money from elsewhere and not borrowing locally, banks have been forced to lend to the locals and not the govt.

  8. MMK says:

    Perhaps the solution is for the government to get ALL its revenue from aid so that it can use it however it sees fit, stop talking to the citizens since it owes allegiance only to its donors and offer a bowl of maize meal everyday to every Kenyan. This would be fantastic. Kenyans would not pay taxes, we would hardly need to think of what the government was doing or not doing and no-one would starve. Yes, perhaps this is indeed the way to go.

  9. Anonymous says:

    There is no strong correlation between economic development and aid. How does stopping one affect the other when they are not related?

  10. PLease allow me to recommend this great detailed article in response to Anonymous’ question about the lack of a POSITIVE co-rellation between AID and development… there is in many cases a NEGATIVE correlation… See
    Doug Bandow at http://www.cato.org/pubs/pas/pa-273.html

  11. Anonymous says:

    My point exactly, we agree on the fact that Aid dose not lead to economic development. However, there is also no correlation between denial of financial aid to African regimes and economic development. Arguing that this will lead to economic development is a huge logical leap with no supporting evidence.

    Financial Aid should bad on it its own merit and should be stopped on that premise, but not under the pretence that it will result in economic development.

  12. Anon,
    If you read my post, I did not claim that stopping financial AID will lead to Economic development … actually I think I will post what i think are the things that will lead to economic development in my next post…

  13. Anonymous says:

    Akinyi you are thinking exactly like me. What Africa needs today is a growth of entrepreneurship to finally put Africa on the map and Kenya is the place to start due to it political stability. Its time for us to wake up and stop relying on foreign aid to help us out each time something goes wrong. This is the Agenda for the next 50 years which will be carried out by the youth (20 – 50 yrs old):-

    1. Strategic Vision for not only Kenya, but the entire African region;
    2. Stop waiting for the government to do things for us and work out problems for ourselves. Those geezers are only interested in buying more houses in Muthaiga and buying more Mercs for themselves. Why cant they start a centre for entrepreneurship development for recent graduates instead of forever increasing their salaries? When there are African MBA graduates on the streets and others selling bananas in Wangige market?
    3. Its time to stop stealing public money and over paying yourselves, you in government and seeking ways to invest and grow your country’s economic activities;
    4. Identification of regional and international markets;
    5. Business management training, vocational training in each and every sector may it be furniture making, banking, law, craftsmanship, apparel, textiles, crockery, management consultancy etc. I am talking about self sufficiency in every region that man has a need, so much so that we can finally feed ourselves and then make high quality products to compete in the international market and if possible, exceed what they have out there and be the best and earn the best profit from it. We hear of household names like Barker & Dobson. We could have our own Karanja & Otieno.
    6. Promotion of the “Help Africa Grow, Buy African”. A Pan African project to span from North Africa to South Africa. Bring about trade between African nations. Supply meeting demand in all sectors of human life. Where there is deficiency in one area, the need is met with imports from and another African country.
    7. A Re-growth of what is truly African. Its time to study the past, see what our fore-fathers started before the disruption and distraction of colonisation. eg. in West Africa, the Ancient Kingdoms of Ghana, Songhai, The Asante had their own gold smelting & mining, textiles. etc. We need a continuum from the past,into the present and to create a future for ourselves as a continent. This has to start inside each and every African, being proud of who we are. We have to believe that we are capable of succeeding and we are worthwhile people.
    8. Advancement of entrepreneurship like never imagined before in Africa. The aim being to totally eradicate poverty and bring about a living standard to equal the best mankind has ever seen. We have gold, diamonds, tea, coffee, sisal, horticulture and most important of all, educated, highly qualified human resources. What the heck are we doing begging the white man for money? What the heck are we educated Africans doing in Europe washing dishes and serving diners in fast food chains when we could be building our own fast food chains back home?
    9. We need to begin to realise that there is no outsider who is going to come like some “Alleluia” to solve our problems. Our problems are uniquely African and can only be solved by Africans. No one is coming from outside to “save” us. We have the second largest continent on earth full of natural resources and clever people. We need thinkers and workers to begin to re-create a new African. Or like Nelson Mandela would probably like to put it, “A New Azania”. I am writing from the Middle East and what I have seen out here, convinces me each and everyday, “There is no place like Africa”. We have the best continent on earth and we are doing nothing with it but wrangling over non-essential things. Its time to wake up and really start working for ourselves.

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