Does economic success come by choice or by chance? (Beletu Bulbula)
Under normal circumstances human beings always crave for better lives. No sane person would wish to live poor. That is the major driving force behind every person’s effort for change. In that respect one would wish to see improvement on his/her productivity, health and organizational development which in turn results in happiness, success and better life.
Scholars associate successes or failures in life among other things with cultures or attitudes of an individual towards work. This is because, a good working culture plays key role in making the most out of one’s endeavours.
In general a work culture can be regarded as a combination of qualities of an individual or an organization and its employees toward a certain field of activity.
Most of the time, such ‘culture’ deals with a pattern of attitudes and assumptions of individuals which are considered normal and appropriate. Here the danger will arise when that acquired norm contradicts with accepted values of modern and civilized societies.
Economic development which is an increase in the ability to “choose and make decisions” for the maximum number of people, during the maximum length of time, that will result in a sustainable increase in material and social welfare given allowances for both interpersonal and inter-generational criteria, would be highly determined by individual or societies’ perceptions towards development activity to attain at desired level (according definition of economic development by Herb Thompson, Professor of Economics at Murdoch University within his writing titled: “Culture and Economic Development: Modernization to globalization (2001)”.
Therefore, it is possible to generalize that any progress of an individual, an organization or even a country in terms of income would be possibly influenced by the working culture and precipitations of the key role players. However, this is the critical time when a global economy is having difficult times and particularly developed economies are suffering from melt down more than ever before in history. Although the developed countries managed to grow their economies, that has never been a guarantee on its own to sustain its future dominance.
Hence, the deep-rooted poverty coupled with the current global economic crisis will make things more difficult for developing nations. As a result it requires urgent attitudinal changes on some misconceptions entrenched in the society towards different fields of occupation. In this respect, many Ethiopians traditionally have come a long way discouraging certain fields of occupation which otherwise could have done for the country much better. Craftsmen including blacksmiths, potters, weavers, traditional tanners and the like have been denied recognition they deserve for centuries.
Today although despite the increase in the awareness level of society in giving respect different fields of occupation, there are still people with backward attitudes and misconceptions that still look down upon people in some specific occupations.
These people have been trying to undermine the work of paving roads with cobblestones. One of the vital major fields of occupation in terms of generating youth employment and income apart from increasing road networks, is being given less regarded work by some individuals and groups.
However, the reality about cobblestone projects in the country and the people engaged in it is different from what some people have perceived. According to the Cobblestone Project Coordination Office, so far the sector has created job opportunities for 28,868 youths who are organized under 1,311 cobblestone enterprises. The youth also have managed to save more than 11.1 million birr working on cobblestone pavement making. Apart from improving their lives, the youth who are engaged in cobblestone pavements have pledged 1.5 million birr to assist the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam by purchasing bonds and providing grants.
Currently each individual engaging in paving or chiseling of cobblestone generates an average income of 150-250 birr per day and save 10 per cent of it. As a result, an individual’s maximum saving has reached over 30,000 birr per year.
The disrepute towards cobblestone and other income generating jobs comes at a time when, many Ethiopians in diaspora are earning better financial assets in foreign countries by engaging in the activities that could have been less regarded at home. Many people go to overseas and come back accumulating capital for investment. Truly, that capital could have also been accumulated at home if people had convinced themselves to do what they had been working overseas. That will include working in the fields that have not been common before. Cobble stone is just one.
But, we humans seem to attach the meanings, interpretations, values and aims of our activities with the culture we accustomed to it. All what we do in the world depends on how we understand our place in it. It depends on how we perceive ourselves and our social and physical environment. That is why many people are doing the same job they have been considering less-regarded one in their own country and earning incomes in foreign countries.
All what people reflect about a given field of occupation depends on how they perceive it and how far they have been influenced by their working culture. However, such attitude and negative perceptions toward certain activities would not help to improve livelihoods. It will also hinder the national effort being made to overcome poverty and reach middle income level.
Ethiopia is still among the least developing nations. It is only when its people start appreciating and encouraging the youth that they can get to a better development stage and hence change nation’s image positively. This globalized era requires one to think out of the box and see at different directions in order to be to be competitive. Otherwise, the country would remain tail end to rest of the world while its people praise the old lifestyle. Economic success can be achieved by choice to perform activities that help generate income no by chance. It is therefore critical that people plan for success and commit themselves for it.
* Originally published on Ethiopian Herald on July 27, 2012, titled “Does economic success come by choice or by chance?”, authored by Beletu Bulbula.
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