Achieving SDGs through sport – Episode 7
A real rejuvenation! Zoumki and Yaovi
Dr. Gilles Klein, 13 November 2017
Fund sustainable development through sport. What fly has stung this one! In Europe, rarely in athletic stadiums, more often in the open spaces, athletes come across these insects that slow down or halt their efforts by stinging them, causing violent pain: bee, wasp, horsefly or hornet. In other places, the tiger mosquito, the Reduviidae or the tsetse fly are much more dangerous. Stung, it must be, at a time when others enjoy a well-deserved retirement, to devote more than ten years of his life to travel across Africa. For what kind of pilgrimage? That of trying to raise funds for youth sport by negotiating public-private partnerships (PPPs) in the fields of, among others, renewable energy or agriculture.
But how not to be stung after a visit to a national sports institute or an African school, often so poorly endowed for sports education in material, financial and human resources. In 2008, I remember Dr. Togba Pivi, director of the National Sports Institute of Conakry, receiving us in his dusty and poorly maintained office. In the old glass cabinet which served as a library to the staff, were two works: a Larousse dictionary and his thesis, defended in Cuba, as part of a bilateral cooperation between the two countries. Togba was an heir to the policy of President Sékou Touré. Guinea then voted "no" in the referendum on the draft constitution proposed by France for the establishment of a Franco-African community. On August 25, 1958, Sekou Toure summed up his policy with a phrase, symbolizing national sovereignty, remained in posterity: "There is no dignity without freedom: we prefer freedom in poverty to wealth in slavery ". Guinea then turned to the friendly countries of the Soviet bloc. Freedom in poverty was the impression left by the visit to the National Sports Institute. When you left the director's office, you could not, you did not sit idle.
I have not returned to Guinea for seven years. No doubt the situation has changed since the election of President Alpha Condé. Its communication shows that he is working to strengthen and diversify cooperation, as well as revive development objectives in all areas. As in the past, cooperation continues between Guinea and its former partners - Cuba, Russia, Ukraine - where the Guinean sports staff were trained in the 1970s. The whole team of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Heritage history was renewed by decree presented on January 6 on television by President Alpha Condé. But according to the information I receive from Conakry or N'Zérékoré, the state budget nor development aid, whether from the West or the East, still does not manage to pay for the staff properly, equip the national sports institute and stock the shelves in the director's library. That's why, stung, more than ever we have to diversify funding sources for youth sport, more generally Sport for Development and Peace (SDP), PPPs, Environmental Social Governance (ESG) policies. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), crowdfunding and microfinance.
Whilst previous episodes recalled the new context, including economic and financial, of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I would like today to pose a first white pebble on the path of financing youth sport, starting with microfinance, mainly for African youth. First, because youth is the vanguard of the masses who are the first to be concerned by the SDGs. Fifteen-year-olds today will be adults when the SDGs are evaluated in 2030. Last chance! As Ban-Ki moon liked to remind, there will be no plan B for these young people and their children, or for the planet. Second, because African youth is in an absolute emergency. Tomorrow one in four humans will be African. In Dakar, Bangui, Kinshasa or Bamako, unemployment among 15-24-year-olds cannot remain endemic, putting at risk a rise in migration cohorts. After Addis Ababa, which embodies the Africa of diplomacy and multilateralism, I invite you to continue this detour through Africa, that of youth and its daily challenges: to train and find a job, not to try to emigrate at the risk of losing your life. For that, the financing of the sport of the youth will need a real rejuvenation!
This rejuvenation will occupy us for part of the Autumn because the stakes are important and ask questions which are significant to me. How to cope with rampant African demography, when it stagnates in the West? What future for people under 25 in Africa? How to implement programs for the youth of the United Nations and the African Union? How to support young people in the villages, in their neighborhood so that they are not tempted to get closer to the northern coast of the continent and cross the Mediterranean? How to get young people off the streets and out of the hands of the warlords? How to create the right training and employment in the country? How to help them start with microfinance? Can we turn African youth into SDG entrepreneurs? And of course, our corollary question: how can sport help to answer all these questions? Can young people, especially African ones, be transformed into SDP entrepreneurs? Often, the answer is within our reach. We crossed it in Burundi or Togo. It would be enough to support it.
Burundi - Bujumbura. 23 March 2009. The President of the Republic of Burundi introduces the work of the 32nd ministerial session of the Conference of Sports Ministers of La Francophonie (CONFEJES). The meeting is taking place at the Kiriri University Campus, on the edge of Bujumbura-Rural, a province bordering the Burundian capital that has suffered greatly from the civil war for fifteen (15) years. The Minister of Youth and Sports of Niger, Abdoul Rahamane Seydou, who two years ago was one of the three signatories of the creation in Rabat of our intergovernmental organization, World Sports Alliance, takes stock of the action of Francophone ministers. Among other things, he congratulates the organization’s executives on the increased participation of women and girls in the proposed programs.
During this ceremony, the organization presents the Nicole Ndongo Awards for the Youth Inclusion Fund (YIF) Excellence Competition. They are awarded to the best company-youth of the year 2008 to four young entrepreneurs from Chad, Benin, Cameroon, and Burundi who have distinguished themselves by initiatives generating socio-economic progress in their village or community. The young Chadian, Zoumki Wazoumi, receives an incentive of 1.5 million CFA francs (about US $ 2,500) for the success of a millet mill project funded by CONFEJES.
On March 24th, the projects of the young entrepreneurs are exhibited in the lobby of the Hotel Meridien Source du Nil. We stop at the cereal products stand of Zoumki Wazoumi, who designed and implemented the cereal mill project. Sylvie, the Secretary General's Chief of Staff, talks to the girl, asks her about her initiative and benefits for the village or neighborhood, job creation, education and training for girls and women. women in Chad. Over the course of the interview, the Zoumki’s millet mill is no longer only this modest mechanized grinding wheel in metal enameled yellow. On its own, it is indeed becoming a melting pot for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs): sustainable development, community development, the advancement of women, education, training, the fight against unemployment, the long-term survival of employment, fight against hunger and poverty. With great energy and conviction, Zoumki embodies what Helen Clark, UNDP Director, said. In short, a good dose of initiative supported by a little money is preferable to the uselessness of grand declarations and the frequent sterility of large buildings.
From our exchange with Zoumki and his statements to the press, we retain his lucidity on the empirical process to get African youth out of their difficulties and put them on the path of development. The girl described this process in seven points. i) Firstly, the initiative assumes an informed reading and a lucid analysis of the context: "in Chad, millet flour is the basis of food". The millet mill "significantly alleviates the task allocated to girls ...". ii) Secondly, the initiative needs financial support, if only minimal, in the form of a donation, in order to start. In December 2006, CONFEJES supports the initiative with the financing of 2.3 million CFA francs (USD 4,071.00). iii) Often, the gift is just a starting point that has to be supplemented by personal savings, additional loans in the form of micro-credits or donations from angel investors. Thus, the sum allocated by the Francophone organization is supplemented by Zoumki: "I needed a little more money to set up and start the project and it was necessary to use my own resources and other creditors to bring together a necessary amount of 7 million CFA francs ".
Soon, iv) the individual initiative becomes a community one, likely to generate income and employment. During the year 2006, thanks to the millet mill located in the Chadian capital, N'Djamena, the company of Zoumki garners receipts of 3,000 CFA francs per day, or 90.000 CFA francs per month. On this basis, she recruits staff - manager, miller, and guardian. v) There is no success without an obvious ability to adapt, which the young entrepreneur has shown. Indeed, for the company of Zoumki, the year 2007 is less good. It, therefore, relocates the mill to Léré, in southern Chad where, unlike N'Djamena, there is less competition in millet crushing. Offshoring makes it possible to reach the surrounding clientele and significantly increase the daily income. Four people can then be employed and paid.
(vi) If the initiative has economic benefits, it also has positive consequences for education and training. Thanks to the Zoumki company, girls, usually used to undertake manual crushing, can devote more time to studying and increase their academic efficiency. Zoumki herself manages to finance her university law studies. (vii) Finally, in a village, a community, a district, the initiative can become a means of fighting against unemployment: "I set myself other objectives such as the purchase of several mills, the creation of training centers for professional masonry, carpentry, and mechanics to contribute to the reduction of unemployment which is a scourge for Chadian youth, "she announced, referring to its development projects. The donations of the CONJEJES also target typical sports projects.
Lome - Togo. Yaovi Kunalé Agbelon is a young footballer who has not developed sufficient sports skills to access the high-level sport that makes him dream so much. In 2000, he participated in a workshop organized by the Youth Directorate of Togo and CONFEJES. The sewing machine inherited from his mother and support for youth entrepreneurship will transform a failed footballer into a fashion designer who succeeds: "If my feet did not succeed in playing football, I told myself that they had to be used to pedal the sewing machines. CONFEJES favors this change by allocating a nest-egg that opens up unexpected prospects. Yaovi becomes what I call an entrepreneurial SDP, that is, an entrepreneur who, while shaping his future, works for the achievement of the SDGs through sport. The success of the SDP entrepreneur is not important. Yaovi gives the key. For him, undertaking means being different: "we were too numerous to make balloons, I wanted to distinguish myself by making jerseys".
Initiative and distinction will lead Yaovi on the road to success. Since then, he has launched his own brand of jerseys, sold in Togo but also in Mali. These two qualities have also led him on the path of sustainable development. In addition to his sewing workshop, he became a trainer. It is in turn to train young people in the design and manufacture of sports equipment, mainly in football and athletics - nets, balls, and jerseys. Thus, by transmitting its know-how, it is now part of an approach that I will describe as promoting and accelerating the SDGs through sport. Several French-speaking countries, including Mauritania, Burundi, Lebanon, Haiti, and Djibouti, have used their skills as entrepreneurs and trainers to encourage new vocations.
Zoumki and Yaovi were "reckless to the end". They became the winners of the "International Competition of Excellence of the Best Young Company of the Year" launched in 2006 by CONFEJES. Through this competition, the Francophone organization seeks to provide greater visibility to the entrepreneurial action of young people in the Global South. The competition is held every two years on the sidelines of the Conference of Francophone Ministers of Youth and Sports and rewards some of the young people of the global South who have been funded by donations.
In Léré, Chad, in Lomé, Togo, Zoumki's and Yaovi's approaches - analysis of the contexts, initiatives, training and financing, economic and social benefits - were made possible by the procedure designed and implemented in the French-speaking world by the CONFEJES. The organization shares its own analysis which relays and nourishes that of the two young people: "In a context where the unemployment rate is steadily increasing, support for the professional and economic integration of young people through the creation of microenterprises, particularly in fragile states and/or in the post-crisis phase, has become a priority axis to restore a glimmer of hope to this segment of the population ".
On March 27, 2008, in Nouakchott - Mauritania, as part of the meeting of the CONFEJES bureau, our organization signed a collaboration agreement with the Francophone organization. We were considering strengthening the financial support for microenterprise creation for youth. For reasons that I will come back to, we will not be able to provide this aid. Whatever happens, almost ten years later, after having exchanged with many African leaders - politicians, economists, entrepreneurs, bankers - I remain convinced that the strategy of CONFEJES must be strengthened while complementing it.
The device of the Francophone organization is based on three pillars: the training of young entrepreneurs, the financing, and support of microenterprises. It is accompanied by two mechanisms: mutual savings and credit and national and international networks of young entrepreneurs. In this area, as in others, we must constantly avoid reinventing the wheel. At the very most, we need to help the mechanism develop in the era of the SDGs, taking into account the geopolitical context that I summarize as well.
Seen from the global North, the austerity and public debt reduction policies lead to a reduction in official development assistance and a reduction in financial allocations to sport and youth programs, particularly in the Francophone part. Seen from the global South, sustainable development involves microfinance, which can develop projects ranging from individual initiatives to medium-sized enterprise. With the technological revolutions underway, young Africans constitute a highly mature and highly motivated human capital that is teeming with ideas, creating opportunities for development of the continent. It would take a little gas in their engine. The creation of a microfinance fund specific to the SDP sector would, therefore, be one of the first initiatives necessary for those wishing to contribute to the financing of youth sport.
Next: Monday 20 November 2017 – The garden of Bangui.
Panapress (2009) Une jeune tchadienne fait sensation à Bujumbura, http://bit.ly/2gRksFT
Panapress (2009), Ibid.
Voir le documentaire Téméraires jusqu’au bout d’Erick Kaglan (Beyond Production), http://bit.ly/2ltdisY
Téméraires jusqu’au bout, Ibid
Voir le documentaire Téméraires jusqu’au bout d’Erick Kaglan (Beyond Production), http://bit.ly/2ltdisY