Pioneering the Youth and Technology Movement in Africa and Beyond: Case Narrative

Njideka Harry
Youth for Technology Foundation
Resource Type: 
Publication Date: 
Nov, 2015

Entrepreneurs are made not born. 

When I was growing up, my father often said to me, "They can take everything else away from you, but they can't take away how much you have in your head." His words have resonated with me throughout my life. Perhaps that is why, when I started Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) from a cubicle at Microsoft in 2000, I became so obsessed with my vision that I had no choice but to pursue it. Fortunately, I did not have to convince my husband, Telema, that my vision for YTF was worth pursuing; he soon joined me as cofounder. 

Let me provide a little background. Born to an American mother and a Nigerian father, I have lived most of my life in Nigeria, a developing country, which has had a profound effect on my view of the world. My father was the only child in his family to finish a post-primary education. When the Biafra War broke out in Nigeria, he was one of just a few people to earn a scholarship to study in the United States. It was there he fell in love with an American women, my mother. 

My mother was the first entrepreneur I knew. In the early 1980s, she opened La Patisserie, the first outdoor French restaurant in Nigeria. A mere ten years old, I learned at her feet, at first just running small errands. I later became a marketer and, finally, a host. I remember my mother working very long days. She not only had an entrepreneurial enterprise to manage, she also had to deal with the unique challenges of being an American woman trying to do business in Nigeria. She learned to cut through red tape to secure contracts with dignitaries and government officials. I sometimes would wander into the kitchen for a glass of water in the middle of the night and find my mother preparing elegant displays for some catered event. She inspired me to solve problems creatively, and thus to work to change the world. 

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Enterprise Development
Sub-Saharan Africa