Politicians are not the only leaders that exist. A leader is that person who influences a group of people towards achieving a goal. A leader creates an inspiring vision, motivates and inspires people to be part of that vision. These are not just characteristics of political leadership, but also entrepreneurial leadership.
An entrepreneurial leader is involved in organizing and motivating a group of talented people to achieve a common objective. Entrepreneurs are risk takers. They are never frightened by challenges. A good example is Atem Ernest Lefu, CEO of Agro-hub, Cameroon.
Atem is a 33-year-old Cameroonian who saw his way through becoming a great entrepreneur among others. Before diving into the field of entrepreneurship, he worked with non-profit organizations as a business development analyst/fundraiser. He also wrote projects for grassroots entrepreneurs. However, this didn’t satisfy his passion of helping farmers. For someone with a farming background, the young entrepreneur thought it necessary to help farmers become entrepreneurs. He now works with 6800 farmers compared to 2100 farmers in 2016.
With the urge to encourage farming, he, therefore, set up Agro-hub to create a market for smallholder farmers. Together with his team, he created mobile transformation units for farmers to easily sell their farm produce and prevent post-harvest loss.
The company works with communities in the South West, North West and East Regions.
Atem’s belief in entrepreneurial leadership was a ticket to his selection as one of the 200 young African leaders across 44 African countries to participate in the Obama Foundation Young Leader Africa 2018. This was an opportunity for him to meet leaders who could help him sharpen his entrepreneurial leadership skills.
How the ObamaLeaders: Africa Program 2018 boosted his entrepreneurial leadership skills?
It is evident to say that you have the opportunity to gain knowledge when great minds from different spheres of life (politics, entrepreneurship, civil societies) meet. Atem could only get enriched with advice from icons like Koffi Annan, Ellen Johnson, Graca Machel, Mo Ibrahim, Aliko Dangote, Thuli Madonsela and Barack Obama himself who gave enriching lessons on leadership.
It is tempting to ask why entrepreneurs should be part of a leadership programme.
Entrepreneurship is not all about owning a company, it is more of showcasing leadership-oriented skills.
“Entrepreneurship and leadership is a two intertwined kind of concept. If we have entrepreneurs who are good leaders and good leaders who have good thoughts, then we will have better societies,” Atem said.
According to Atem, leaders could be politicians, civic leaders or entrepreneurs, because all have a community they work with. A majority of people always follow the vision of a leader.
A true leader has the power to impact change in the community. A good leader communicates effectively, is supportive, believes in himself, shares success is honest and above all, accountable to the people he leads.
His five years achievements from the age of 28 to 33 made him eligible to be among the 200 selectees to participate in the Obama Foundation Young Leader Africa 2018. The idea of the programme was for African icons to pass on the leadership baton to future leaders. It also had as aim to leave the future of the African continent is left in the hands of competent leaders.
CEO Atem eventually found himself with the right people in the right place. He was able to social network and proved himself as a competent agripreneur leader. He also gained recognition to spend a 30-minute unofficial moment with former US President, Barack Obama.
— The Obama Foundation (@ObamaFoundation) July 23, 2018
What young entrepreneurs must do to make an impact
Atem has achieved a great deal of success. The UN awarded him UN Accredited Youth for Central Africa. He won the Nestle Creating Shared Value Award in 2016; he is an AfDB youth Agripreneur and also a member of business forums like the SWISS Business Forum, among others. Atem got the nickname “Farmers Boy” at the Obama Foundation event.
With such credentials, he is definitely in a good position to say a word to aspiring entrepreneurs.
According to Atem Ernest Lefu, for young entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams, they need to focus on solving problems. He added that young people with dreams tend to just share on social but never put it into practice. He is a strong believer of the saying that, “alone, you can go fast. With others, you can go far.”
He plans to expand Agro-Hub’s footprint across the African continent, starting with Nigeria by 2019. To him, participating in the Obama Foundation Africa Leader made him have a bigger networking system. For him, social capital is the most important capital to be successful as an entrepreneur.