What are the African youths doing wrong? II : Proposal Writing and Grant Seeking.


3. Indecision, poor investment character and substitution
Some youths in the Zimbabwean case decided to uptake another venture other than that which was initially proposed and earned a grant. In agribusiness, this is the mother of all wrongs when it comes to investment. Suppose you know a particular field for example horticulture, and have earned yourself a grant because your proposal was so viable to uptake a proposed horticultural venture, the proposal was so good that even one with basic knowledge of horticulture could make profits from the proposal. But by a choice of blindness, blind attraction to another agricultural field or enterprise or by suicidal indecision you opt to uptake a venture entirely different from that which you have proposed and have earned a grant for. 99% of the time, this decision or indecision as it should rightfully be labelled, is the first step in a long journey towards failure.
There is increasingly that habit in young people to propose to do one thing that they know so well, but only to use money intended for that to do something that they know little or nothing about. This is usually as a result of pressure surmounting from peers and fellows whose success in those fields one chooses to adopt over that which they know well makes the substitute more attractive. Without full knowledge of the new substitute venture, up-taking the venture over that which was initially proposed is not any different from experimenting with investment. The ultimate principle to be learned here is that alternative experimentation is costly in any business.
4. Blindness to proposal evaluation
With any proposal, like with the project that will be built from it, the need to evaluate cannot be emphasised enough. Some youths, the majority did not have their proposals evaluated. The majority of those who didn’t evaluate their proposals failed the selection process. But some by either chance or as a result of the corruption that surrounded the fund used as a model to this case, their proposals succeeded to be funded. Here is the thing, throughout the progression of a project that was once a proposal, and there is need for periodical monitoring and evaluation to see if a project is on track with the proposed objectives.
Equally important in proposal writing is to identify someone whom you trust, a confidante to review and evaluate your proposal before it attains funding and transformed project. This is the ultimate way to refine an idea, create and set realistic, achievable goals and objectives as well as workable project plans. After all, a secondary opinion is very important to give a proposal a touch of refinement by way of critically analysing the primary opinion. While by chance your proposal in its unevaluated form succeeds to earn you a grant, the very minor err elements which the undone proposal evaluation seeks to remediate may become once the proposal is implemented as a project on the ground. The lack proposal evaluation before its implementation into a problem is the one ultimate reason why after project evaluation, implementers return to the tables to re-adjust their proposal, which is in itself a costly process.
5. Purchasing ideas
Some youths bought proposals and submitted to apply for funds, and the proposal were approved. This is nothing new and the fact that grant-seeking is a multibillion dollar business means there are organizations and individuals who are solely in the business of proposal writing. For the millennium youths, buying proposals is perhaps one of the most risky moves making proposal buying the father of all the mistakes as far as successful of projects is concerned.
When one buys a proposal, they do not buy also the brains that wrote the proposal. Even in academia some people are so lazy as to buy theses or dissertations done by other people. Even if they get distinctions when that document is marked, in practice there is no guarantee at all that they are distinction students in practice. Why, because it is not their original work. Now, the same applies to proposals, when someone sells a proposal to you, they have only sold you an idea. Big organizations buy proposals for grant-seeking as well (by employing expert proposal writers), their difference from the youths who do the same is that they employ experts with years and years of working experience to implement the project once the proposal earns the grant.
With the ever-increasing youth unemployment in Africa, a majority of youths who barely have any experience in running a project can earn a substantial grant for a project and many do go in blindly without sufficient prior experience to pull it off. The odds of such a project failing or the magnitude of its success is even more determined by whether the proposal leading to the project was bought or was designed by the youth implementing it. Where the proposed idea was bought, the odd of failure are way higher and the magnitude of project impact as well as success, low.
When you buy an idea, and you are to implement it without the one who sold it to you (as is always the case) or without an experienced project implementer, if you want it to become your idea, rewrite it in your own thoughts and reshape the idea to be yours in your own simulated imagination of the project. That way, a sense of ownership increases the odds of success of the project when you take that proposal and implement it. In earnest opinion, project proposals done by others should only serve as a guiding campus towards creating your own. The philosophy of teaching a man to fish is ideal and better than that of giving him a fish in this case.
Whilst it is important to rectify on weaknesses and problems on the side of youths which lead to project failures, institutional limitations are equally important to address in the process considering that it is the collective duty of all stakeholders involved in the development process that make proposals and project successful.