In tandem with its long-standing undertaking of promoting research-based, free enterprise policy reforms that culminate in job creation and wealth generation, the Nkafu Policy Institute (NPI) — a Think Tank at Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation — convened some young aspiring Cameroonians (both males and females across the national territory) for a 5-day training on Public Policy Analysis. The same drive was equally marshalled in coherence with the broader mission of The Foundation — that of ‘catalyzing Africa’s Economic Transformation: by focusing on social entrepreneurship, science and technology, innovation, public health, and the implementation of progressive policies that together create economic opportunities for all.’
Typical presentation sessions.
Converging on the foundation’s headquarters at Simbock, Yaoundé, the emerging leaders reviewed literature on various thematic and buttressed that with engaging group assignments and interactive discussions: characterized by free exchange of perspectives and mutually-respectful debates.
In an extra-ordinary showcase of world-class lessons, the exercise placed accent on evidence-based and evidence-informed policies. The deliberations — facilitated by carefully selected and well talented Cameroonians — were centred on contemporary and global issues, and customized to suit Cameroon’s context, and Africa’s daily reality in general. Inter alia, the far-reaching and rigorous training sought deeper insight into — why free enterprise matters; public policy analysis; critical thinking and its role on policy analysis; generation of policy ideas; fundamentals of policy research; researching on policy options; designing policy proposals; policy gaps; public speaking skills; drafting policy briefs; writing factsheets, opinion pieces (OpEds), and peer review articles; policy advocacy and implementation; evaluating policy impact; the place of capacity building in the life of a change agent; 21st leadership skills; transparency and good governance; and interviewing and presentation skills.
Fellows freely expressing their perspectives.
Cognizant of what challenges Small and Medium Size Enterprises (SMEs) face in Africa, there’s no gainsaying that it was very timely for the Nkafu Policy Institute to drill the youngsters on free market principles and quintessential leadership qualities. Small businesses for instance, face hurdles like — paucity of funds, poor records keeping, inability to separate management from ownership, lack of infrastructure, the founder’s syndrome, and lack of business management skills, amongst others. But surprisingly, SMEs make up about 90 – 99% of businesses in Cameroon (and Africa), and so should be given greater attention than is currently the case. They contribute 36% of Cameroon’s GDP. The erstwhile Minister of Small and Medium Size Enterprise, Social Economy and Handicrafts (MINPMEESA), Laurent Serge Etoundi Ngoa once stated that, if SMEs could contribute up to 50% of Cameroon’s GDP, Cameroon would have emerged. However, little research has been conducted on SMEs in Cameroon, to aid in the enactment of evidence-based and evidence-informed policies. Thus, the motivation behind a free business economy was to advocate for a more enterprising milieu where government control would be largely relinquished, thus promoting competition amongst private businesses. That way, SMEs could thrive, and in consequence, boost economic performance.
The successful-accomplishment of the training last February 8th, immediately ushered the policy advocates to the next phase of the project — mentorship. During the next 6 months, the free enterprise fellows would be expected to walk the talk by carrying out research on a specific problem plaguing society, and eventually publishing newspaper articles and short policy papers on the same. Likewise, they would be required to educate the public on the benefits of a free enterprise system in Cameroon and Africa. After which, five of the fellows would be retained by The Foundation for a period of one year, with a modest monthly stipend.
Presentation of end-of-course certificates to fellows.
The testimonies from the fellows, that closed the first phase of the project last Friday 8th February, asserted that the game was worth the candle. Be it from the standpoint of the organizers and or attendees.
‘My experience at the Nkafu Policy Institute during the Public Policy Analysis course made me understand that policies do not only concern the government, but [involve] all societal levels…. It also made me to realise [that] policy analysis and advocacy [are] not only [for] politicians: you can be apolitical and still analyse and advocate for new policies’, Audrey Tiagueu, Agriculture Specialist, Rural Women Development Center (RUWDEC), Buea.
‘I…added more knowledge on how to strategically develop, implement and evaluate public policies. I…also learned how to write policy briefs. What pleased me during the programme was that it was more practical, with group work and interactions between trainers and participants’, Mofor Anupiabale Wopimazi (Specialist in Child Protection in Humanitarian Situations, Founder/CEO of Aid Without Borders Cameroon, and Youth Representative of Arab Africa Council for Integration and Development).
‘I came out scientifically and intellectually developed, after the intense…training on public policy analysis organized by Nkafu Policy Institute. Indeed, I…was able to acquire precise and effective techniques for writing scientific articles [and] also policy briefs. I am now equipped with major technical tools that will certainly guide and influence my next steps in research’, Bertille Onana Messi (a diplomat, researcher, and humanitarian).
‘The topics were very interesting and rich in knowledge, very practical and based on concrete and verifiable elements. I learned how to write policy briefs [amongst others]’, Alain Loumou (Diplomat, and Terminal Degree fellow in Political Science in University of Douala).
‘I learned [that] policies are not only meant for the government, but our little communities and even families [also] need policies. I equally learned how to write and advocate for policies’, Bertila Kinga (PhD fellow in health economic and policy management, founder of Dynamic Women for Women’s Empowerment, and Guidance Counselor by profession).
‘‘Prior to…the Public Analysis Course, I had very little idea on the importance [Public] Policy Analysis had on the socio-economic ‘breakthrough’ of a nation. …My take home lesson is that of putting more accent on evidence-based policies to catalyze Cameroon’s economic transformation, and…Africa’s [emergence]…, without forgetting the unquenchable interest in [Public] Policy Analysis that the Nkafu Policy Institute has stirred [up] in me’’, Cho Derick (MSc. student in Money, Banking and Finance — University of Yaoundé II, Soa).
‘The event was…very enriching and eye opening…. I loved everything about the event, especially the group work which permitted every single participant to express his/her mind. The new thing I learned was how to come up with a [public] policy, write a policy brief, [how to] advocate for the policies I propose, and how to implement them. Thanks once again to the Foretia team for such a great idea’, Deborah Kudi (MSc. student in Public Health, University of Aix, Marseilles).
‘Selfieing’ was a distinctive and indispensable feature of the 5-day Free Enterprise Fellowship.
It should be noted that this project was a Shark Tank sponsored project.
Picture credits: Graphics team of Nkafu Policy Institute, and Free Enterprise Fellows.