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Media coverage on very young entrepreneurs is disappointing

By Daniel Mpala

Is the media paying enough attention to very young entrepreneurs?

African Leadership Academy (ALA) vice president of growth and entrepreneurship Josh Adler says media coverage of young entrepreneurs is disappointing.

ALA’s Anzisha Scenarios green paper points out that young people in developing countries are faced with high unemployment rates, with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) warning that an entire generation of young people could struggle to secure employment.

“There’s a pending crisis that’s coming and the media are not being vociferous enough, I think, in calling it out, and shining a light on what could happen, and who the leading lights are in alternative thinking,” says Adler.

Adler believes part of the reason behind the inadequate coverage on young entrepreneurs is journalists are more likely to be interested in reporting on their peers than they are on very young entrepreneurs.

The best people to hire young people, he says, are young entrepreneurs. And in turn, the best people to tell these young entrepreneurs’ stories are other young people.

“I think the best people to interview and cast a light on this would be very young people, because our networks are wrong,” says Adler.

He cites the Children’s Radio Foundation as an example of how this approach is being used. The foundation partners with community radio stations to help young journalists in their teens to go and find stories in their communities.

“I think those are the people who are actually going to go ‘This is cool, this is exciting. This guy is doing something I couldn’t do and he’s making more than me’ and that becomes a story,” he says.

Another issue is what he describes as the “aggregation of attention” to “big” entrepreneurs. Adler points out that for example, that while on one day there may be seven stories on someone like entrepreneur Elon Musk, local grass roots entrepreneurs are neglected.

“The story is close, and the media’s job is to know who its audience is and to tell stories three steps in front, and not a million,” he says. Stresses Adler: “I think that’s what the media must do”.

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