Consider failure as stepping stones to success – Panellists

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From left: Mr Issahaku Adam, Associate Professor, Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management of the University of Cape Coast; Mrs Assia Riccio, Founder of Evolving Women, Dubai, Prof. Keolebogile Shirley Motaung, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Global Health Biotech; Mrs Elcia Grandcourt, Regional Director of Africa UNWTO, in a panel discussion at the Africa Youth in Tourism Summit in Accra. Picture: Patrick Dickson

Panellists at a youth summit in Accra have urged young people in the start-up business and entrepreneurship sector to see failure as a stepping stone to success.

According to them, almost every successful entrepreneur experienced failures of different kinds but they were able to sail through because of their resilience.

The panellists were sharing their thoughts on “Approaches of design thinking – thinking outside the box”, at the 2021 and third edition of Africa Youth in Tourism Innovation Summit and Challenge in Accra yesterday (Friday).

The three-day summit was hosted by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) under the auspices of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, in collaboration with Africa Tourism Partners (ATP) and the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

It was held on the theme: “Empowering African Youth in Tourism through innovation, education and investments in a changed world”.

Topics discussed included innovation and travel technology: business unusual for Africa tourism start-ups and fresh graduates in COVID-19 era; social innovation: a practical approach to developing an inclusive and high impact youth entrepreneurship, opportunities and employment in tourism; investment and crowd funding.


The panellists observed that entrepreneurs were drivers of the economy, innovation and job creation to some extent.

They, therefore, urged the young entrepreneurs to be persistent and resilient if they wanted to get to the top.


Making a submission at the event, the Director, Technology Transfer and Innovation at Durban University of Technology, South Africa, Professor Shirley Keolebogile Motaung, highlighted the crucial role of mentorship to the survival of business ideas.

“One thing that is crucial for a young entrepreneur is having a mentor. Carefully choose a mentor who is in the field you want to initiate your start-up,” she stated.

Critical thinking

Prof. Motaung said lecturers of entrepreneurship should teach learners the right methodologies of identifying opportunities and modelling them into businesses.

“I do not want to train students who are going out of school to go and look for jobs but to train them to create jobs for themselves. Jobs are scarce,” she said.

Identifying problems

In his contribution, the Associate Professor at the Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management of the University of Cape Coast, Prof. Issahaku Adam, said there was the need to encourage students to focus on identifying problems.

“If you identify the problem, you identify a niche that fills a gap and addresses a challenge,” he said.

Soft skills

For his part, the founder and Director of Hasso Plattner School of Design Thinking, University of Cape Town, South Africa, Mr Richard Perez, proposed that entrepreneurs should always improve their “soft skills” if they wanted to be relevant when times changed.

“The world is always changing. By 2025, the skills that will still be relevant are critical thinking, resilience, problem-solving and analysis. If you want to be an entrepreneur, these are the skills that you have to work on,” he said

The founder of Evolvin Women, a non-governmental organisation in Dubai, Ms Assia Riccio, indicated that the youth also had to develop emotional intelligence to aid in their analysis of issues that would help them on their entrepreneurship journey.


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