According to the Oxford dictionary of English, entrepreneurship is the activity of setting up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.
Are entrepreneurs born or made? This is a debate that has raged on for years, mostly fueled by examples such as Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, among others, who are hugely successful entrepreneurs, all similarly without college degrees. This skews us to believing that the idea of entrepreneurship as a subject taught in class is not required at all. However one would argue that by doing this we are basically placing a bet that nature will produce enough of such characters to fuel our nations’ economies. But perhaps there lies a latent entrepreneur that requires the kind of sparking that an a class in the art of entrepreneurship would do.
It is also a glaring irony that we idolize great figures, and constantly pressure our youth to be like them but insist on following through with an education system that is designed to set them in a complete 180 direction, towards different careers and even more significantly, towards employment.
“We live in a world in which the future is uncertain, so students need skills that will allow them to make their own way. We can’t predict the job market and economy our students will enter,” explains Nathan Barber in a piece posted on sais.org, “we really can’t predict what content our students need in order to be successful after they leave our schools. We know without a doubt, though, that our students need skills that will allow them to navigate uncertain waters and chart their own paths. Entrepreneurship education teaches these skills. Entrepreneurship education equips students to seek out problem-solving opportunities, empathize with others, think creatively, take risks, accept failure as part of the growth process, and appreciate the correlation between hard work and success.”
Nathan continues to explain that, students need to learn how to identify problems or needs before they learn problem-solving skills and as he so eloquently put it, more grit.
Tina Selig, a professor of the Practice in Stanford University’s Department of Management Science and Engineering and a faculty director of the Stanford Technology Ventures Program shares Barber’s train of thought. She is a strong believer that entrepreneurship is not an inborn trait and it can be taught. “There are many who believe that entrepreneurship is an inborn trait that can’t be taught. This is simply not true,” she explains on a piece on The Aspen Institute, “As with all skills, from math to music, learning to be entrepreneurial builds upon inborn traits. For example, learning to read and write taps in a baby’s natural ability to babble. Each baby learns to harness those noises to form words, connect words to compose sentences, and combine sentences to craft stories.”
Africa in particular is uniquely suited to warrant entrepreneurship, owing to the challenge of few formal jobs available to graduates. The best way for one to secure their future on the continent is logically speaking, entrepreneurship.
Citizens of the continent are definitely onto this piece of advice and are not waiting for any such classes as evidenced by the countless startups and innovations that are cropping up day after day, all attempting to solve one of the other problems they face in their localities. Entrepreneurs in Africa face more challenges than anywhere else on the planet. For one, African startups have an especially difficult time raising funding to run their business, this is accentuated by a lack of infrastructure to carry out the necessary activities. These challenges are not aided by the rampant corruption and political stability experienced in most African countries.
These amongst many other challenges discourage many a person, who would have otherwise flourished were the environment more favorable, from embarking into entrepreneurship. Clearly, our governments need to revise their respective educational curricula, to include this critical skill into our future generation’s educational diet.