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Can entrepreneurial parents inspire their children to follow in their footsteps?

By Daniel Mpala

Does it make a difference who your parents are if you’re looking to start a business? To what degree do parent’s influence the chances of a young person becoming an entrepreneur or not?

More importantly, can entrepreneurial parents inspire their children to follow in their footsteps?

Vincent Omanudhowo Ologbo, who runs a soap production venture in Lagos’s Ketu area, believes they can.

In a new book titled Parenting the Boss: Insights from Those in the Know, he tells of the time he found out that his son, 23-year-old serial entrepreneur and Anzisha Fellow, Ajiorghene Omanudhowo, began emulating his father’s soap production technique in primary school.

“They say the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. There is no doubt that my children’s interest in entrepreneurship was piqued from watching and learning from me,” he says in the book.

Like his father who has founded four different businesses over the last 35 years, Omanudhowo junior has also been bitten by the “serial entrepreneur” bug.

Under his 360 Needs company, Omanudhowo has founded a string of startups. These include a food delivery startup Asafood, parcel delivery service Asadrop and Beta Grades, a company that provides students with computer training and helps them prepare for their exams.

Last year he launched #ProjectREED, a social venture that provides students with access to coaching and mentoring.

Omanudhowo’s story is one of seven in the book which has been published by the Anzisha Programme, a partnership between African Leadership Academy (ALA) and Mastercard Foundation.

The book, which was launched in April at Anzisha’s Very Young Entrepreneur Education & Acceleration Summit, seeks to uncover the critical role parents play in raising young entrepreneurs.

The book draws on the experiences, approaches and challenges that parents from across the continent have faced as they raise very young entrepreneurs. It also touches on how these parents have inspired and influenced their children.

Mastercard Foundation programme manager for youth livelihoods, Koffi Assouan points out in the foreword of the book that parents are often young entrepreneurs’ first educator, investor and their most passionate supporter.

Melissa Mbazo, Prize Manager for Anzisha Prize says Anzisha realised that although parents play an “unbelievable role” in the journey of young entrepreneurs, they are never considered key players in the entrepreneurship ecosystem.

“Parental support plays a critical role in very young entrepreneurs’ journeys. The role of family members, and parents in particular, can exist in both emotional, financial and mentorship support,” explained Mbazo.

Mbazo points out that in writing the book, Anzisha spoke to the parents of the entrepreneurs in the Anzisha network who the organisation interviewed over a series of interviews to understand their respective contexts and challenges.

“We chose entrepreneurs that started young and have had clear and evident support from their parents through their journey,” she adds.

Apart from Omanudhowo, the book features the stories of seven young entrepreneurs and their parents who hail from Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and South Africa. They include:

  • Ugandan Noah Walakira who was 14 when he founded Namirembe Sweater Makers which now employs 20 people and offers youth free vocational training
  • Nigerian Viktoria Akinfolarin, a 16 year-old Anzisha Fellow who is the founder, managing director and CEO of educational board game firm Edutainment Games
  • Tanzanian Asha Abba, an Anzisha Fellow and founder of Aurateen a non-profit organisation that provides sexual health awareness and professional support to teenagers
  • Ugandan Daniel Mukisa, the 24 year-old founder of on-demand transport service RideLink
  • South African Ntando Makwela, the 15 year-old co-founder of publishing venture Molo Africa.
  • South African Hloni Khuele the 20 year-old co-founder of logistics company Avion Express, which also owns two other divisions Avion Mining and Avion Foundation

‘Stereotypes on success’

Mbazo says in many African contexts, there are a lot of stereotypes on the route to success, with many young Africans being encouraged to pursue more “traditional career paths” as these are viewed as secure and reputable, as well as acknowledged by others and the communities.

“Parents of entrepreneurs also need to be patient as the journey to entrepreneurship is long and hard,” she says.

Parenting the Boss: Insights from Those in the Know is available for free download here

Featured image: The Kabanda family from Uganda, one of the seven families featured in Parenting the Boss: Insights from Those in the Know (Screenshot)

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