That’s Dirck Kuzatjike in the gray jacket. He stands in front of the white board he has borrowed from my office in order to host a meeting on the street corner. All the people gathered around him are members of his organization, the Young Entrepreneurs Forum. This group is composed of men and women who want to start their own businesses. Self employment is the only way to get ahead here. Jobs are scarce and those positions that do exist provide minuscule wages (approx $1 USD an hour) and zero job security.
The group has just completed their first job, clearing brush from the side of the road for the city. The job has taken them three days; their profits have all gone into a group account in order to provide the start -up capital necessary to launch a massive fundraiser. The ultimate goal is to raise enough money to provide micro-loans to each person, enabling them to start their respective businesses.
Dirck had asked me come down to the corner to explain part of the fundraising idea I am helping him with. I felt a little ridiculous telling grown men and women our idea of repackaging potato chips in order to turn a profit, but they all nodded, seemingly grateful to have another person on their side, and eager to learn when they could start selling the chips.
After speaking to the group I stepped back to snap a picture, just when a sightseeing bus full of tourists rolled by, “The Ultimate African Experience” boldly printed on its side. Little did they know that the ultimate African experience, the determination to escape unimaginable poverty and a lifetime of struggle, was right outside their window. No one turned to look.