Open Africa works mostly with rural and marginalised communities, who face many development constraints, the worst of which is referred to as the psychology of poverty. In this condition people have given up and don’t believe they can ever succeed, which means that to begin with their mindset has to change.
But the psychology of poverty is not the only problem affecting the will to succeed. After we had the experience of developing the first few routes, we found ourselves saying that if people asked us why Africa was struggling so badly economically, we would give a surprising answer. This answer is that fundamentally it is because too many of Africa’s people suffer from a very serious lack of confidence.
Writing this appears simplistic, but we all know that whether it be in business, sport, politics, marriage or whatever, if you don’t have self-belief in making it work it won’t work. In Africa everywhere we go we encounter a confidence vacuum. People look at us with beseeching eyes, as if to say I would love to do what you suggest but don’t think I can. For too long they have seen themselves as losers and they don’t know how to win.
Showing them how to win takes time but there are few greater rewards than seeing a turnaround in confidence from the negative to the positive.