As a Nigerian entrepreneur, I see education playing an important role in empowering Africans to accelerate economic growth and development. The big question I ask myself is, what kind of education will really help Africans?

I distinguish two perspectives on education. There is the narrow, formal process being rolled out through the school system, and the informal, experiential acquisition of knowledge through mentoring and personal development.

Even though I'd had a good dose of formal education by the time I became an entrepreneur, it was the knowledge, skills, and values acquired from informal education that gave me a competitive edge.

For nineteen years, I was exposed to formal education. I acquired legal and business competencies and became general counsel and company secretary of a huge conglomerate in Nigeria before quitting and becoming an entrepreneur. Yet I consider the most formative aspect of my education to have taken place neither in school nor in the corporate setting, but when I learned entrepreneurship through my network marketing sponsor and numerous mentors from around the world.

When I discuss education in mentoring sessions with my team, I differentiate between formal and informal education, underscoring the latter as quality education. I make the case that, in Africa, formal education gives you a foundation upon which to build your chosen edifice of quality education.

Jim Rohn captured the point vividly in saying that the quality things in life are placed on the top shelf. We all must stand on the books we read—and by extension, the personal development programs we have experienced—to reach them.

Network marketing grants anyone access to quality education. Robert Kiyosaki once advised that network marketing companies should be appraised not by their products or compensation structures, but by their educational programs.

There is no substitute for quality education. Even when the price is high, I encourage my team to go for as many quality training programs as possible, and seek for ways to apply the knowledge attained.

 In Africa, tens of billions of U.S. dollars of both foreign aid and national budgets go into formal education to enable millions of men, women, and children to receive the magic tool that will prevent them from joining the already bleak African statistics.

Yet the results from year to year are disappointing, to say the least. Formal education no longer guarantees a decent living. This accentuates the need for quality education or self-education—so christened because the individual takes responsibility for the knowledge and skills he or she acquires.

This viewpoint does not discard formal education in any sense. Rather, it repositions it as simply a foundation. It also discourages the narrow view of seeing formal education as an end in itself. Formal education makes you aware of the multitude of things you still have to learn if you want to build a fortune in network marketing.

Born and residing in Nigeria, EMEKA ALBERT is a network
marketing leader who cofounded a mentorship program
to equip African youths with the entrepreneurial skills
needed to develop multiple streams of income.