Friday, February 01, 2008

Detroit Needs to Connect With The World by Akindele Akinyemi

Despite the fact that more than millions of dollars have been pumped into urban communities to improve Detroit infrastructure and economic well being, Detroit is worse today than ever before. Poverty remains a major economic crisis with over 60% of the Detroit living below the poverty line. Disease and political instability continue to rampage economic stability of Detroit.

Despite the otherwise good intentions by some here (mostly non-profits) to provide funds to help rebuild Detroit it has been discovered that most cities around Detroit have vested interests in regionalizing Detroit not just the purposes of development.

Detroit has the potential to liberate itself and work on building sustainable development for the economic and social well being of its people. The citizens here need to develop a ‘can do’ attitude and work on discovering their potential as well as solving their own problems in their own ways.

Fostering an entrepreneurial spirit can be a breakthrough for Detroit by promoting free market economics to achieve sustainable development. Venturing into a business opportunity gives an entrepreneur freedom to make risky but wise decisions for the sake of business growth, thereby achieving self-empowerment. The informal sector substantially contributes towards the economic development of a country the world over. African governments should therefore fully embrace the entrepreneurial concept and work towards creating a sustainable business environment that will attract entrepreneurs/ investors.

Detroit must get involved with developing a financial market to replace the decades old automobile industry to reduce the influence of unions on the city. Our city must be in the business of setting up shop in Africa. Most entrepreneurs and investors are driven away by the cumbersome bureaucratic tape in the registration of a business enterprise and heavy taxes levied on products and services. Our city and state governments should establish favorable policies, rules and regulations to govern business operations as well as provide incentives to potential local and foreign investors. Moreover, establishing training facilities where practical business skills are imparted onto people would reduce the initial training costs faced by most entrepreneurs, thereby driving low the operational costs. Though foreign investors have been accused of driving local entrepreneurs out of business, they provide competition that serves as a benchmark for local business people to improve the quality of their products and services.

Local entrepreneurs also find it a problem to access start-up capital. Moreover, some cultural practices hinder entrepreneurship. Ghetto culture hinders progress because of Detroit’s poor education system plays a role in underdevelopment by preparing students for white collar jobs. Consequently, most youth remain unemployed and idle hence channeling their energy into drugs, alcohol, crime and prostitution.

To tackle this, introduction of entrepreneurship option in the school curriculum would encourage the youth to consider it a career of choice. Start- up capital, on the other hand, can be acquired through private grants, government loans, borrowing soft loans from family members and friends, as well as acquiring bank loans, though the latter attract huge interest rates and short credit periods due to the high risk involved.

It is evident that entrepreneurship and investments creates sustainable development since income streaming in from the businesses raises the entrepreneurs’ standard of living, improves consumer buying power and adds revenue to the government in form of taxes. The revenue acquired, if not misused by corrupt government deals that we see here in Detroit, would benefit infrastructure and generally improve the economic well being of the city. So then, we do not need help from outside, because the answers to Detroit’s problems lie within us if only we were courageous enough to venture into the unpredictable but rewarding world of business.

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