For someone like me, I had really high expectations for myself coming out of law school. The wind that hit me when I stepped out the plane on my first day back in Ghana should’ve let me know things wouldn’t be…as easy as I’d planned. Ultimately, I had to try to find ways to fit in, fight for a spot, feel part of something and exceed my expectations. This narrative of finding places for ourselves, within a miasma of sexual, social, financial and sometimes familial pressure, alongside the ennui of being unsure of who we are and what we’re supposed to do, is a very popular motif among young people today. It’s made worse in a continent like ours where government policies aren’t youth driven despite a heavy youth population. Interest rates are through the roof, financial institutions are unwilling to take the risk of providing loans to SMEs, unemployment is high, there’s a housing deficit, rent prices are skyrocketing. I could go on and on. What is inspiring to me however, is that despite all these challenges, I keep seeing young people rise to the top.
It is in this spirit that the EMY Africa Magazine decided to dedicate an issue to young people, with stories about them and relevant to them – the Generation Now Issue. We’ve also launched what we call the Young List. This annual list will profile a group of young and influential trailblazers, whose talents include starting movements, curating experiences, building networks, driving progress, to name a few.
For the first issue of this kind, we picked 7 of these young people: Yanfo Hackman, Jake Obeng-Bediako, Theodore Ohene-Botchway, Violet Awo Amoabeng, Jessica Poku, Emmanuel Osei Ntim and Mawuli Gavor. What links these young people together is their courage to persevere in a system where the odds are stacked against them.
Yanfo Hackman has taken advantage of the advent of social media to create an agency that helps companies reach out to people on the internet.
Much of the same can be said of Jake Obeng-Bediako, who took advantage of his influencer status as well as his Afro-diasporic knowledge to secure a job working with the Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President of Ghana.
The youngest of the group, Theodore Obeng-Botchway’s courage speaks volumes. He started building smart agricultural machinery with his partner, Jeffrey Appiagyei, to support a much-ignored agricultural industry.
Grace Dorcas Annan’s interview with Violet Amoabeng throws light on how much of a risk-taker Violet is and how she’s willing to solve problems around her. She started Skin Gourmet as a way to combat some of the skin problems she herself was going through at the time.
Jessica Poku, the Country Head for Uber Ghana, describes herself as having an “all or nothing personality.” She has of course, risen to the top at a very young age by giving it her very best and grabbing at opportunities. Her uniqueness is apparent when you meet her.
Emmanuel Osei Ntim arrived in Ghana in 2014 and immediately took charge of plans to start a new company. Since then, that company – Fon Packaging Ltd – has done so well, it’s brought on Nestlé Ghana, Voltic, Coca-Cola and Accra Breweries, to mention a few, as clients.
In Mawuli Gavor’s story, we are reminded of how life’s meandering waters do not always lead us where we plan. He points out however, that even though life threw at him unexpected opportunities, he got the best of them because he was prepared.
This issue is an open letter to young people that reads, “C’mon, we can do this!” It’s indeed a great time for the magazine, and we hope our capacity to shine light on young people driving progress and change helps encourage young people everywhere.
Grab a copy!
The December2020/January 2021 Generation Now issue is out newsstands now.