In this very inspiring write up, Ashoka ChangeMaker Scholar SHUDZEKA E. TEWIY establishes the relationship between productivity decline and entrepreneurship. He posits that young Cameroonian entrepreneurs suffer from information asymmetry and makes insightful proposals for the way forward.


Productivity could be defined as the quantity of goods and services that a worker produces per unit of time with the skills and tools available.

A decline in productivity has tremendous effects on the living standards of any people.  A decline in productivity means a decline in real income.  This reduces the power of purchasing goods and services; reduces access to good health and housing; reduces access to quality education; and reduces an individual’s ability to contribute to social programs of his community.

When productivity drops, many people lose their jobs, leading to a rise in unemployment, underemployment and vulnerable employment. This leads to a drop in social security of the individual as it leads to a drop in pension schemes.  Also, it could lead to a rise in crime wave and prostitution as many individuals turn to these unorthodox modes of making a living.

A decline in productivity may have a positive effect on the environment.  There will be a drop in pollution from companies that have large wastes and discharges.  This inadvertently increases the health of the community and leads to a more stable ecosystem.

A drop in productivity results to fewer goods and services being provided.  Important goods, essential services and foodstuffs become scarce.  Inflation due to the demand pull rises.  Prices for goods and services become unnecessarily high.  People with low income cannot live decently and provide for themselves and their families.  Also, there is resultant fall in productivity of other companies that rely on the goods produced by the primary producers to render their services.  It then becomes a chain reaction in which individuals find themselves in a vicious cycle.

In some countries, companies are imposed obligatory corporate social responsibility as part of their agreement to operate in such countries.  A drop in productivity will lead to a drop in the provision of such social facilities like provision of good drinking water; building of decent roads; building and equipping of hospitals and schools.  Individuals obtaining these facilities at subsidized rates will face a lot of difficulties.

A fall in productivity of a firm concomitantly results to a drop in its profitability.  This reduces state income since these companies pay taxes to the government. The government’s ability to provide services to its citizens drops.  A drop in living standards is the natural result.nfc5

Therefore raising productivity—and ultimately, economic growth—is the only way of achieving substantial and sustained reductions in poverty and improve the living standards of a community. And that is where entrepreneurship comes in.

Entrepreneurship is the development of a new product, the discovery of a new market, the starting and managing of a new venture or innovation in an organization (Shumpeter, 1934).

Entrepreneurship is one of the major sources of wealth creation for an individual, a community or a country as whole.  For an individual who creates a business, entrepreneurship is a source of employment for him.  The income generated from the business goes to increase his living standard and that of his family.  The opening of such businesses creates employment for others as the entrepreneur takes on others to work with him.

Entrepreneurship is a major source of income for a government as it collects taxes on these businesses.  These taxes are then used by the government to improve social facilities of the country such as building roads, hospitals, schools, etc.

As is the case with any business, entrepreneurship serves the community by providing essential goods and services.  This will help to increase the economic activities of the community, as other businesses may be derived from these new organizations such as suppliers and retailers.

Entrepreneurship could be major source of income for people of disadvantaged and marginalized backgrounds.  Entrepreneurship therefore could provide a means of mainstreaming and bringing back marginalized groups into the society.

Entrepreneurship especially amongst the youths could help reduce delinquency and other societal ills such as theft, drugs and terrorism.  When young people are actively engaged in gainful self-employment, they are less tempted to join terrorist groups.

To the young people, entrepreneurship could be seen as a means of developing self-esteem, giving them a sense of pride in what they are doing.  Through entrepreneurship, the young are given a sense of identity and are accepted as valued members of the society.

Entrepreneurship could be a mechanism for promoting advocacy and building resilience amongst youths (OECD, 2001; White and Kenyon, 2000).  It helps young people to find solutions to societal problems by experiential learning and increase their innovative spirit.  This could be particularly good for the society as these young people will lead change actions that could lead to the production of new goods and the re-engineering of societal structures.

What then is the issue with youth entrepreneurship in Cameroon?

Our major issue is information asymmetry.  Youths in Cameroon are willing to go into self-employment (Neneh, 2014). However, most youths do not have any idea what they could earn as self-employers.  They do not have information on the procedures to create a business, the legal implications and where to source for information.  More so, they have no idea on where to obtain capital to grow their businesses.

Of course most of this information is available, but how readily available it is brings to mind several questions.  The Cameroonian legislation changes every year, and some government workers use this to their corrupt advantages.  For example, few young entrepreneurs are aware of the fact corporate taxes have been reduced from 38% to 30%.  Nobody is taking advantage of this information!

The way forward will be to create a forum for information dissemination.  Information on the economy, changes in legislation, new opportunities and others should be shared.  Advocacy should be promoted on such a forum, where entrepreneurs share information on the problems they faced and the models that worked.

Here I wish to laud the efforts of the creators of wealth farm for thinking of such a forum.  Visit if you need to access information and talk with a mentor.  Continue to read our blogs on Ashoka Changemakers Cameroon to get updates on the economy in Cameroon and how to position your business vis-à-vis the economic changes.



Neneh, B.N. (2014). An Assessment of Entrepreneurial Intention among

University Students in Cameroon. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, Vol 5 No 20

OECD (2001) Putting the Young in Business: Policy Challenges For Youth

Entrepreneurship, Paris: OECD

Schumpeter, J.A., (1934) The Theory of Economic Development, Cambridge, MA:

Harvard University Press

White, S; Kenyon, P (2001). Enterprise based Youth Employment Policies, Strategies and Programs. .  ILO: Geneva



Written by Shudzeka Eric Tewiy, MBA

Treasury Accountant, Bamenda Airport

National Training Officer, Association of African Entrepreneurs, Cameroon

Ashoka Changemaker Fellow, 2015

Winner of UN online volunteer of the year award, 2013

E mail:



Defining Work and Sector Opportunities in Cameroon

There are so many different avenues for employment creation in Cameroon spread across different sectors. In the following write up, Gabriel Ashu-Arrey examines work and sector opportunities in Cameroon

In Cameroon there exist generational and conflicting discrepancies in the definition of work. It should be noted however that a whole part of the youth population have been excluded from society and denied the privileges of their deserved social status due to the misconception that “work is having a waged or salaried position.” The stakes of defining work are really high and for the most part have been influence by postcolonial remnants of an educational system with its problems. What teachers teach, what companies hire, and what youths aspire has influenced the sociology of work in Cameroon. If we must move from the current socio-economic conditions faced by Cameroonian Youths- to a more wealth creation and sustainable economy, we must redefine work. The questions posed are how can a different understanding of work influence the employment ecosystem, from educators to job trainers, to employer and youth as well?
Cameroon’s Employment Context
In recent years, Cameroon has been experiencing a shift in the concept of work which has gone from state dominance to private sector dominance and now living the new birth of an entrepreneurship culture. Though till date thousands of Youth depend on state created opportunities such as ENAM, ENS and other competitive employment based entrance exams, a significant number are now engaging with so much motivation but with equally lots of challenges into entrepreneurship and self employment ventures. The unemployment rate stands at 30% and underemployment stands at 75% (ILO, 2013 report). While the working population of Cameroon is about 12million, the public sector has employed only a little over 200,000. While the state and private sector can’t sufficiently cover the employment gap for young people, necessity has become the mother of invention. Young people in Cameroon are obviously beginning to take their destiny into their own hands by creating for themselves income generating and wealth creating activities that are addressing significant socio- economic issues in the country.
Two principal sector opportunities can be identified in the Cameroon economy;
Social entrepreneurs are extraordinary leaders and their organizations are creating innovative models to drive equilibrium and change. By disrupting the status quo, social entrepreneurs open up the space for solutions to take the opportunity to scale , and become the foundation of profound social transformation and a more peaceful and prosperous world. Social entrepreneurs both take direct action and seek to transform the existing system. They seek to go beyond better, to bring about a transformed, stable new system that is fundamentally different. The last decade has witnessed a boom in the social entrepreneurship sector in Cameroon with many working on providing key solutions to problems faced in the country with health, youth development, women and gender empowerment topping the list. As the Cameroon society moves towards emergence in 2035, it is only normal that the society encounters basic problems on the way to 2035 thereby challenging our social entrepreneurs to work hard and provide long lasting solutions to problems faced in this sector.
2) Profit Making Ventures
Young Cameroonians nowadays are setting up their own companies and producing goods and services which are consumed locally and internationally. Popularly known today as ‘Start Ups’, the country has also witnessed a boom in the creation of ‘Start Ups’ with Technology and Agriculture topping the chart. The country has also witnessed a growth in the creation of small businesses across the different regions of the country. These small businesses are found in so many different sectors and the presence of a ready market where they can sell their products makes them profitable ventures. Apart from creating self employment, start ups and small businesses are also employing other youths in Cameroon thereby reducing the level of unemployment in the country. The creation of vocational training centers where young people can learn new skills in fields such as carpentry, tailoring, mechanics etc opens a variety of opportunities for these young Cameroonians. Passion leads to innovation and within the past years, it has been a driving factor for most profit venture owners because in a bid to follow their passion, they ended up creating opportunities for themselves and for others. It’s true that capital for start ups, the business environment sustainability of some SMEs, Start Ups constitute key challenges for young entrepreneurs nowadays but everyday Cameroonian profit making ventures are making huge gains despite all these hurdles.
The future definitely looks bright work and sector opportunities in Cameroon but it’s game where players, referees, supporters, coaches and different stakeholders must play their roles for a total transformation in youth work and sector opportunities in Cameroon. It’s now common talk to hear that a Cameroonian company has won an international award and this means despite the difficulties entrepreneurs are facing, their passion is leading them to innovation. Furthermore, they are creating avenues for others to gain employment and as we towards 2035, it becomes important to create strong and healthy partnerships between the public and private sector which forms the backbone of economic growth.

By Gabriel M Ashu-Arrey
Social Entrepreneur/Researcher

The Cameroon Future Forward Ecosystem Exchange Event

The Future Forward partnership, between Ashoka and The MasterCard Foundation, aims to identify and convene innovators, thought leaders, and youths to discuss about solutions that can move #AfricaYouthFwd. The 21st century has witnessed a massive growth in terms of pioneering discoveries and innovations which are changing the lives of millions around the world. From the Americas to Europe and from Africa to Asia, young people have been at the heart of this transformation with many of them gradually becoming masters of their art. One of the hottest debate topics across the African continent is centered around ”the 21st century African youth and how he/she can contribute to the growth of a continent in need of its young people to take it to another level”. One of the new additions to the 2016 Ashoka Change Makers course was the creation of Future Forward Eco-System Exchange Events with the aim of bringing thought leaders to learn and share experiences in their journey to changing the society. From Harare to Johannesburg, Nairobi to Dakar, Accra to Lagos, these events witnessed the participation of stakeholders with a passion for development in their countries and in the continent as a whole. After a six weeks online professional training on;The Future of Work in Africa: Innovations in Youth Employment; Cameroonian course participants graduated and branded as “AshokaChangemaker Scholars”. Alongside other young leaders, they gathered in the coastal city of Limbe on the 9th of July to discuss how to move #CameroonYouthFwd.Limbe provided the perfect setting for the beginning of a new journey for change makers in the country as they examined the problems facing the Cameroonian youth and how they could provide solutions to these problems.

The early morning breeze from the Atlantic Ocean welcomed participants from different regions of the country as they made their way to Savoy Palmz Hotel for the Cameroon Future Forward Eco-System Exchange Event. The event brought together 68 emerging innovators with mentors, thought leaders, leading social entrepreneurs and youth serving organizations working for a journey of learning, inspiration and connection. This was focused on scaling the impact of social innovators to transform the youth employment landscape in Cameroon and beyond. It featured capacity building and peer-to-peer feedback sessions; workshops led by thought leaders; and networking opportunities between organizations working on improving youth employment conditions in Cameroon.

Asho 2

In his opening remarks, Gabila Franklin the coordinator for the Limbe exchange called participants to make good use of the event by building networks and partnerships for development. To him, the challenges faced by the society provides an opportunity for a unique solution and the search for these unique and sustainable solutions were some of the reasons for bringing innovators to Limbe.
The event had as guest speaker Achaleke Christian- 2016 Commonwealth young person and Coordinator Local Youth Corner who spoke on youth employment and peace, to him, an entrepreneurial and employment creation ecosystem is the best platform to prevent youth radicalization. Moreover, the only way to move the future forward is to be the change we want to see. The next speaker Morfaw David- Queen’s Young Leader for 2016 and the C.E.O of Poult-Vault; a social enterprise which deals in chickens and related by-products spoke on Social Innovation. To him, it is from impossibility that there is social innovation and moving the future forward would require a change in the mindset.
Two focused panel sessions on Thinking Big: Scaling for Organizational Growth and How to relate from the Top. The different speakers highlighted the points of partnership, leaders grooming leaders, consistency in performance, patience in times of adversity and how to effectively deal with failure.   An Agro-Innovation by Atem Ernest CEO of Agro-Hub-winner of the 2016 Nestle Prize in creating shared value and Gabriel Ashu Arrey – Ashoka 2016 Changemaker Scholar,Founder of Wealth Farms on Wealth transfer in Africa ended a very interesting series of talks.

The Limbe Eco-System Exchange was the first formal event organized by Ashoka and the Mastercard foundation in Cameroon. Youths with different views and solutions made their voices in a series of thought provoking and ground breaking sessions. The big question obviously had to be; what next from Limbe? For sure, networks and partnerships were made during the event and this led to another question of ‘How’. However, this, according to the coordinator of the event – Gabila Franklin, is the beginning of better days to come in youth development activities in the Cameroon. As young leaders departed from the shores of the Atlantic city, the hope would be that, as they go back, the power of the waves in their dreams and hearts should be a shining light directed towards working together for an emerging Cameroon in 2035.

My Cameroon Experience: Warm welcome and hospitality in Cameroon


Topsie E. Olatilewa,  was the Co-Organizer of the  Cameroon Future Forward Ecosystem Exchange -#AfricaYouthFwd, partnership between Ashoka Changemakers and MasterCard Foundation, which took place on the 9th of July 2016 in Limbe at Savoy Palmz. After the event, she shared with us her experience of life in Cameroon.

1) Describe your experience in Cameroon – that is from the airport, food, hospitality etc?
I had a crazy travel itinerary and a rough travel, so everything about the airport was nothing to write home about. But from the moment I was picked up from the airport was super splendid. Drove straight to Limbe, ate at various restaurants, food was tasty, spicy and delicious. Received a customized bag and a hat as welcome gift, stayed at Savoy Palmz Hotel. Savoy Palmz was breath-taking with a five star hospitality. For the first time in my work-life, I totally shut-down anything relating to work ( did not open laptop, files, books etc) because the right atmosphere was just created for me to relax for once, enjoy the moment, take things easy and take it all in. Special thanks to Gabila Neba and Savoy Palmz Hotel.

2) Could you describe your experience being a Co-facilitator at the Cameroon Ecosystem Exchange?
It was awesome and amazing, Gabila Neba and I are one hell of a great team. We work together as committee heads in African Changemakers Network-ACN, team-up also for Ecosystem Exchange Nigeria. So being co-facilitator of Ecosystem Exchange Cameroon was humbling and a unique experience to give back to Cameroonian youth. I met amazing people doing extraordinary things in their community. I also discovered that there is more work to be done for youth development and all hands needs to be on desk, all sectors both private and public must have a youth active programs that’s developing leaders of today for today/tomorrow’s challenge. There is also a lot of untapped business opportunities that can be brought to Cameroon by global investors or companies looking to expand their brands. Cameroon is a fertile ground for business and innovation.


3) What are the aspects which need improvement?
Cameroonian youth energy and vibrant needs to be properly channeled and trained into resourceful areas in helping to develop their community. They need a lot of capacity development skills that conventional schools does not provide. Their leadership, entrepreneurial and innovation skills needs to be highly develop to take on leadership roles and be allowed to co-create their own future.

4) Any general remarks about Cameroon?
I really want to come back to Cameroon more times to empower youth in entrepreneurship and leadership development. So I need private and public organizations both local and international to partner and collaborate with me and my organization to launch ready-to-deploy project/programs to empower Cameroonian youths, women and girls.

Ecosystem Exchange Cameroon Event Pictures:
Warm welcome and hospitality in Cameroon:

Thank you.

Connect with me:
Twitter: @Topsiee1
Facebook: Business Without Boundaries.

Interview By Cameroon, Ashoka Changemakers Scholars – Akouyu Alphonse

Youth Employment Policy and Government Engagement In Cameroon

Youth Employment Policy and Government Engagement is vital for the growth and development of young people in Cameroon. One of the issues which would be discussed at the Limbe Eco-System Exchange is Youth Employment Policy and Government Engagement in Cameroon. In the following write up, Wilson Amah examines the Youth Employment Policy and the level of Government Engagement in Cameroon.

IMG-20160704-WA0027           IMG-20160704-WA0026

In December 2004, the president of the republic took an important decision in favour of the Cameroonian Youth in creation of a ministry specifically in charge of the management and empowerment of the youths. This was due to the realization that made the youths a potential driving force towards Cameroon’s development. In order to implement the preset goals and targets of the ministry, the Head of State prescribed the formulation of a National Youth Policy.(MINJC CAB,2015). The national youth policy runs for both national priorities and international commitments of the Cameroonian government. The policy of 2006 priorities national youth development with the overall objective of building a prosperous and peaceful nation. It was formulated in a consultative process involving representatives of public institutions, civil society, UN agencies, private organizations, and youth movements. The government also created National Council of Youth of Cameroon in order to meet up with the youths demands.
It is of great interest to build the capacities of the youth by considering them from the standpoint of human capital so as to enable them better invest in future development projects. The National Youth Policy appears to be an efficient tool which is being used by the government to respond to the needs of the youths. However, despite all gains made so far through the youth employment policy, it is still certain that government can’t do it all alone. There is a limited engagement to build the entrepreneurial capacity of young people to create self-employment. This is a job-killer for a developing country like Cameroon whose private sector is predominantly made of Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) and a huge informal sector. Building the entrepreneurial capacity of young people is ensuring competitiveness for Cameroonian SMEs, and will equally ease the transition from informal to formal sector. More so, the young of people of this country are still confronted with a variety of difficulties that are getting more and more complex day after day.
Youth unemployment is amongst the many complex issues which Cameroonian youths are facing today and solving this problem is top on the wish list of the state. This explains why there is a lot of emphasis on vocational and professional training in order to equip youths with the skills they need to gain employment and to be self employed. There has been an upsurge in the creation of vocational training centers which would provide up to date training and would serve as a foundation for youths entering in to fields like engineering, agriculture, technology and sciences.
“Vocational training is the foundation for every meaningful development and copying the good side of policies for a change in society and most especially for a better number of Cameroon’s employment performance is nothing bad”, says the Minister of Employment and Vocational Training, Zacharie Perevet. The government has also created other organs like National Youth Employment Fund (NEF), and runs programs like Rural and Urban Youth Support Program (PAJ-U), Youth Socio-Economic Integrated Project (PIFMAS), Integrated Support Project for Actors of the Informal Sector (PIASI) which offer different forms of support to the youths.
There is really no doubt as to the fact that, the Cameroonian government is making new strides in terms of youth employment policy and engagement given the different programs which have been created to create an enabling environment for youth innovation. As usual, the current debate is about the old issue of management of these programs and how to ensure there is the desired impact. Furthermore, given the number of youths who have been lured to carry out terrorist activities in the North of the country, youth policy experts are questioning the effectiveness of these programs in that part of Cameroon. Nevertheless, youth engagement remains a priority for the government especially as we edge closer to emergence in 2035.

Written by

Wilson Amah

1) 1; National Youth Policy; MINJEC CAB 2015
2) 2; Victorine Biy Nfor Cameroon: Youth Employment – Promising Sectors; Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé) 8 February 2016
3) 3; International Monetary Fund,Publication Services 700 19th Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20431
4) 4; world bank ; August 2013
5) 5; Cameroon youth employment policy, 2011


Many people view Cameroonians and Sub-Saharan Africans as not ‘entrepreneurial’.  As we move towards the entrepreneurship ecosystem exchange in Limbe come Saturday July 9th, Shudzeka Tewiy critically reviews entrepreneurship among youths in Cameroon and say that Cameroonians are entrepreneurial but are involved in less productive jobs.


Statistics from the National Institute of Statistics in 2014 showed that unemployment rate in Cameroon is 5.7%. With a population of over 21 million, only about 400.000 are employed by the state.  Yet, unemployment is just 5.7%.  I believe the majority of you reading this write up would be surprised, but I am not!  Simply put, Cameroonians cannot afford to stay without working. Constant increases in fuel prices, family pressure and very expensive basic commodities put Cameroonians on the streets everyday.

We just need to look at the number of Cameroonians hawking in the streets; the truck pushers, the bike riders, those who sell locally produced stuffs in buses and cars, children selling at streetlights, for us to know Cameroonians are working.  Yes, I agree, Cameroonians are entrepreneurial.

However, most of our Cameroonian youths are engaged in very unproductive jobs that cannot sustain them and their families.  They are either underemployed or engaged in vulnerable employments such as selling in bars, ‘okada’ riding, hawking, etc.IMG_20160705_142305

Many social issues have contributed towards deterring our youths from getting into formal entrepreneurship. One of them is the perception that the society has for craftsmanship and technical education. There is the general perception that artisans and technicians are “never-do-wells”, dropouts, societal rejects or even failures that should perpetually remain at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.

Also, the formal apprenticeship practices are being eroded.  Before, youths learnt trades by working with a more experienced and established business person in the domain.  For example, a youth wishing to become a carpenter will enroll as an apprentice at a carpentry workshop and spend between three to five years learning the trade.  Nowadays, most youths want to make fast cash and move into the moto taxi business, otherwise known as ‘okada’.  To become a bike rider you need to learn only for about a week or two and you are into business.  This has led most youths out of the formal apprenticeship system, thereby reducing the tendency towards entrepreneurship.

Nevertheless, many young Cameroonians are now taking the cue and are getting into entrepreneurship and doing great things for themselves.  They are involved in agriculture, health business, technology, service provision and crafts.

Take for example the young farmers of Santa who produce about 10,000 tons of tomatoes, lettuce, cabbage or potatoes yearly.  What of the rice farmers of Ndop, who export one of the best rice grains I have eaten to places to like Nigeria and Central African Republic?  Oh, I cannot leave the agricultural page without talking about Agro Hub, the group of young people who have taken farming to a new level. They are the owners of Agro-Mart, their chain of stores where they sell cassava derivatives such as starch and Garri.  They won the Nestle Prize for Share Value for 2016. Some too are getting into the technology based business.  Take the University of Buea students who have started Eleconscam Ltd.  They are into producing small scale equipment and software that can help farmers in irrigation.  Look at the founders of, connecting young people to job offering organizations using the internet. There are many more of such young people engaging in business for themselves, as fashion designers, carpenters, welders, motor mechanics, etc.100_6647

I am not saying that the state of entrepreneurship in Cameroon is good; there is still a long way to go.  We need to encourage young Cameroonians to get into formal entrepreneurship through education, motivation and training.  We have a huge potential for our young people to exploit.  The entrepreneurial landscape in Cameroon is still uncharted and unexploited.  Just a few months ago, the government of Cameroon made an open call to foreign investors to come and invest in our country.  Our local investors should not be left out.  I am not asking our youths to have the investments of Dangote, I am asking them to be like Agro Hub, Njorku or Eleconscam.  Do something small that you have the capabilities and make a move ahead.

And how do we help promote these youths? We have to provide them with education that will give them the skills necessary to start and lead an enterprise.  Technical skills, goal setting skills, communication skills, and negotiation skills are what we need.  By providing them with mentors and role models that can help build their resilience.  Also, young entrepreneurs need interest free loans to start their businesses.  I think if we top it up with business incubation, we could have a vibrant entrepreneurial network of youths.

Join the Ashoka Change Maker Scholars in Limbe on July 9th, 2016 as we bring together social entrepreneurs to inspire and share experiences on their entrepreneurial journey and to chart a way forward for promoting social entrepreneurship.


Written by Shudzeka Eric Tewiy, MBA

Treasury Accountant, Bamenda Airport

National Training Officer, Association of African Entrepreneurs, Cameroon

Ashoka Change maker Scholar, 2015

Winner of UN online volunteer of the year award, 2013

E mail: