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Think Like a Parent, Act Like a Coach

Nolizwe Mhlaba leads the Anzisha Prize’s work to support the individuals who are likely to wield the most influence over young people’s decisions to pursue entrepreneurship: teachers and parents. In this article, Nolizwe reflects on why parents should care about entrepreneurship.

In our ten-year reflection, Unlocking Africa’s Hidden Job Creators, we reiterated our belief that entrepreneurship is one solution to the youth unemployment crisis and that parents play a critical, but often overlooked, role in the youth entrepreneurship ecosystem. We also recognized that, for many, merely considering entrepreneurship as a career for their children creates anxiety. So, we took a step back to understand how parents feel about the future of work, in general, and entrepreneurship, specifically. After all, any solutions we craft as a community to support young entrepreneurs must factor in the concerns as well as the expertise of their champions. 

(We use the term “parents” to refer broadly to the caregivers and guardians of young people, as well as their immediate social support systems.) 

What resulted was the second volume in our Parenting the Boss series: Think Like a Parent, Act Like a CoachBelow is an excerpt from that process: 

Entrepreneurship has a polarizing reputation in many circles, for reasons ranging from negative or positive personal experiences to inadequate or inaccurate information. In a survey we conducted in 2020, a majority of parents reported having some understanding of entrepreneurship. 

88% of parents in the survey affirmed the importance of raising awareness of entrepreneurship among young people, and 67% agreed that entrepreneurship was a viable career option for their children. Yet, only a quarter of respondents, roughly, felt prepared to support their child(ren) to explore entrepreneurship opportunities. This is an enormous gap that we cannot – must not –ignore! 

3 Reasons Why Parents (Should) Care About Entrepreneurship 

So, what does this have to do with you and your child? 

  1. Unemployment rates continue to rise around the world, with three times as many young people being unemployed as adults. In Africa, specifically, with its rapidly-growing youth population, jobs are not being created quickly enough to absorb new entrants into the formal labor market. 
  1. Career pathways are not linear anymore. There exists an opportunity crisis, where even university graduates, who are presumably skilled for employment, struggle to land jobs right after completing their studies. 
  1. Moreover, an estimated 65% of children entering primary school today will likely work in roles that do not yet exist. 


These figures paint a stark reality – a potentially dismal future – that we cannot ignore away. This reality compels us all to think differently – creatively and proactively – about how we can enable the youth in our lives to secure their future. We wrote this book for parents thinking about how to prepare their children for the world of work in a global economy where entrepreneurship will continue to play an undeniable role.  

Download your FREE copy of Think Like a Parent, Act Like a Coach here to access: 

  • Tools and strategies to help you practically support your child’s entrepreneurial journey 
  • Research and resources curated specifically for parents 
  • Stories from other parents about the experiences that shaped their views on entrepreneurship 
Didi Onwu
Didi Onwu
Didi is a cultural hybrid that is passionate about producing and designing stories that push readers to go beyond the page fold. She has a particular passion for our African stories and is sure to give each story the star treatment it deserves. As an assiduous multi-platform journalist, she is well versed in print, online, radio, and digital communications.

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