‘How do nations find the best: “Pathway to Prosperity”? This was a question that intrigued me as a young man, entering entrepreneurship. This was a time when Japan was rising quickly to become the second richest country on earth, after the United States.
Japan appeared to go against everything I had been taught from my childhood — that nations were rich or poor based on natural resources. I knew that America was greatly endowed when it came to natural resources, but Japan? They had nothing! [nhadha!].
“We must industrialize like Japan!” one of my friends concluded.
“Is that the full story?” I asked reflectively.
“Look at the Soviets. They are not exactly industrializing themselves to prosperity, are they?”
So I kept reading. One of my favorite books at the time was called: “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations”.
When Michael Porter wrote “The Competitive Advantage of Nations”, I must have read it three times!
When China began to rise, I was totally fascinated to understand the Pathway they were adopting.
In 1990, I was abducted by a renegade group from Zimbabwe’s Intelligence agency, and for the quick intervention of my cousin who was one of the heroes of our Liberation war, and worked for the President, I probably would have died.
Mugabe, who felt less threatened at the time, invited me after my release to come and see him. I saw it as an opportunity to share some of my own views about how to develop the economy:
I was 29 years old!
I sent him a paper authored with three of my colleagues. He was totally intrigued by it! At the heart of our paper was the challenge of creating jobs.
We advocated Entrepreneurship, as a key pillar of that strategy. 30 years ago, we debated the paper for two days.
I remember those conversations so vividly, as though it was yesterday. There is a line I put on the cover of the paper.
“Without a clear vision of the future, a nation returns to its past.”
These days when I look at a nation, any nation, I always find myself wondering what Pathway to Prosperity they have chosen.
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