July 19, 2017 Print

Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo all have a similar history of suppressive governments. The political leaders of the region do not allow the population to express themselves or work freely. Economic freedom and individual liberty are crucial in order for the African Great Lakes region to achieve prosperity. African Students for Liberty (ASFL), an Atlas Network partner, is working to achieve this brighter future.

ASFL works with the youth of the region to promote ideas of liberty and help mentor students into the leaders of tomorrow. In Burundi in particular, ASFL works through its country chapter, Students for Liberty — Burundi.

“Youth are a physical, intellectual and economic force in power,” explains Aimable Manirakiza, founder of SFL — Burundi. “All these current leaders, politicians and entrepreneurs will leave — and we are preparing the leaders of tomorrow to be their valuable replacements.”

To start the conversation about economic freedom in Africa, ASFL has been holding seminar sessions to distribute and talk about “The Morality of Capitalism,” a collection of essays edited by Tom G. Palmer, Ph.D., Atlas Network’s executive vice president for international programs and George M. Yeager Chair for Advancing Liberty. Contributors to the collection include David Boaz, executive vice president of the Cato Institute; German economist Ludwig Lachmann; and David Kelley, founder and chief intellectual officer of the Atlas Society.

ASFL has seen a number of positive outcomes resulting from its hard work. A former student just started his own company in Bujumbura, Burundi, using the awareness and knowledge gained from the collection of essays. Some students have opened boutiques, and others have gained employment through the support and good reputation of ASFL. Students also used the ideas from the essays to assist them in protecting their right to education.

The organization has also been working hard to increase its reach. Though ASFL works with young people in local SFL clubs on various university campuses, there are thousands of young people who do not have the same access to information that university students do. To bridge this gap, ASFL makes videos to try and reach those not attending a university.

ASFL is working to achieve a future where political leaders and government foster freedom of the individual and the economy. As students grow up and the reach of the organization expands, that future becomes more attainable, as does Manirakiza’s desire to “eradicate the barriers of prosperity and opportunity in Burundi, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.”