In an exclusive Dreams Talks conversation, Aquila Ledbetter, the Founder and Managing Director of Afrisource, reveals her transformative initiatives that have illuminated a path where hope, education, and collaboration converge to catalyze progress. Afrisource, an organization dedicated to enhancing capacity, fostering innovation, and advocating for sustainable living, primarily among young individuals and recent graduates in the African Diaspora, forms the backdrop for Aquila’s remarkable journey.
Her narrative is not just a tale of triumph but also a tangible blueprint that beckons to those seeking to champion positive change and cultivate a brighter future. Through an array of programs and workshops, Afrisource empowers individuals, nurtures entrepreneurship, fosters skills development, and promotes self-sufficiency within communities. The organization stands as a cornerstone in the quest to stimulate positive transformations and spur economic growth within the African Diaspora.
Aquila’s story transcends geographical borders, offering guidance not only to the youth but to all who aspire to lead lives marked by impact and to steer their communities toward prosperity.
Here we go, enjoy…
Dreams Talks: You emphasize the importance of empowering the black economy through partnerships and sustainable living. Could you share some specific initiatives or strategies AfriSource has implemented to achieve this goal, and what impact have they had so far?
Aquila Ledbetter: Afrisource started out with workshops in 2017 to strengthen capacity in the following categories of business Customer Service Farm to Business Entrepreneurship Personal and Business Financial Literacy Career Coaching
We performed these workshops annually in rural regions in Namibia with the local support of the regional councils and local businesses in the community. In 2021 we reduced the number of workshops and implemented 3 new initiatives
- Innovator Cohorts
- 360 Innovator Membership Program
- 360 Innovator Market Day
- Demonstration Farm
Based on our research, We believed that the innovators/ entrepreneurs were trained out and needed access to the market to earn an income. We also believed that the innovators who had brilliant concept ideas needed a funded platform to assist with administration, digital marketing and product development to assist the entrepreneur to bring their ideas to life.
Aquila’s Transformative Story
Dreams Talks: In your message, you highlight the role of innovation and creativity in driving change. How does Afrisource support and promote innovation among recent graduates and unemployed youth within the African Diaspora, and what success stories can you share?
Aquila Ledbetter: Our Innovator Cohort program addresses this issue of unemployed youth and recent graduates. We were able to launch 2 cohorts with 10 in each group and fund them for 3 months with a stipend of 500.00 NAD to assist them in funding their dreams by coming to the center to do practical training on the following categories;
- 3D Printing ( Prototyping)
- Farm to Business
- Digital Marketing ( Canva)
40% of our students were able to successfully start an income-generating project and the other 60% acquired skills to secure employment for other businesses.The stipend assisted them with their product development and transportation to and from the center. Due to funding we had to pause the project but we would like to role out two more cohorts in2024.
Dreams Talks: You encourage young people to start making things to build up their community and earn a living. Could you elaborate on some of the practical steps or programs Afro source has in place to facilitate this transition from education to entrepreneurship for the youth?
Aquila Ledbetter: Each innovator is required to take strengthsfinder test to identify their natural talents and then we allow them to research ideas on the computer of various products they think will resolve their own community issues. We teach them how to draw their design on paper then on the computer using Onshape free software and then print on the 3D Printer . We hired a mechanical engineer to support the class and assist with technical questions as it relates to product development.
Driving Positive Change
Dreams Talks: Changing one’s perspective and view is a powerful message in your statement. Can you provide examples of how Afro source has helped individuals transform their perspectives and outlook, ultimately leading to positive changes in their lives or communities?
Aquila Ledbetter: We teach our unemployed youth and any that are interested in learning that the world is changing and that non-traditional students and graduates are facing the same concerns regarding income generation. This means that we must not look to the government for help but we must look within ourselves and the community to support and drive the economy.
The mind must transform from learned helplessness to learn how to be helpful.We have empowered Live out Loud ( Tabita Neshiko) , ( Stella DaCosta , We lead Project ) , Jol Shapopi ( African Child PreSchool) , Albertina Ndungulu (Chilli Sauce) and now recent Jimmy Hailuka (Inventor Grenn Hydrogen Engine) .We have 167 registered innovators in our system currently our goal is to get to 1000 by 2024
Encouragement for Aspiring Entrepreneurs
Dreams Talks: Your message exudes a sense of optimism and determination. What words of encouragement or advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs and changemakers within the African Diaspora who may face challenges and obstacles on their path to success, particularly in the current global climate?
Aquila Ledbetter: The words of encouragement I would give to aspiring entrepreneurs and changemakers is to take time to build your true purpose and to find like minded individuals to work with and collaborate to achieve your dream and solution to solve an issue in your community locally or globally. In other words” Where there is a will there is a way”. It never starts with money, it starts with mindset.
Read More: Investing in African Green Solutions
Dreams Talks Conclusion
In a world marked by challenges, Aquila Ledbetter’s journey shines as a source of inspiration. It exemplifies the essence of innovation, collaboration, and the quest for a sustainable future within the African Diaspora. Her initiatives, rooted in the belief of self-sufficiency, have already transformed numerous lives, underscoring the significance of collective effort, innovation, and sustainable solutions.
Aquila’s narrative is an invitation to all who dream, a call to action for those who wish to be the architects of change. As we navigate the complex landscape of entrepreneurship, her journey serves as a motivator, encouraging us to explore the power of innovation, education, and community to effect meaningful change. It prompts us to reflect upon a vital question: How can we leverage these forces to make a substantial impact on our world and the lives of those around us?
Thank you all for your continuous support in keeping this project *alive, free and independent.* For your dreams matter, your stories matter! pic.twitter.com/BdDt25bFkb
— Africanian News (@africaniannews) October 5, 2023