The Link between Education and Entrepreneurship

It’s not a link, it’s a relationship! When do you decide you want to be an entrepreneur?

Relevant literature suggests there is a valuable link between education, new venture creation, and entrepreneurial performance, as well as between entrepreneurial education and activity. In South Africa, the FET Colleges offer a basic Certificate qualification on New Venture Creation for SMME’s as well as a National Certificate. Then there are a few skills programmes as well that offer education that is relevant to enterprise development. But some- where in this environment, our education department where schools are located should be thinking of offering this fascination subject of Entrepreneurship, from preparatory level.
So, is it a shrewd choice or just wishful thinking that Entrepreneurs will change the world?
In South Africa, our government tends to place much emphasis on job creation. In 2016, the unemployment rate was 26,6%. In the fourth quarter of 2018, it increased to 27,1%. These statistics come from the Trading Economics Forecast. The question is, will education ensure the unemployment rate improves?
Research done by John Peters, Chief Director, Integrated Economic Development Services has identified the need to improve the Entrepreneurship culture in the country. One of the main objectives is to partner with national business organisations to ensure ongoing participation of smme’s to participate in the economic chain. The key to success is support for smme’s. Current research suggests that there are a low start-up rate and high exit rate of small businesses. Why is this so? In the period 2016/2017, this was the highest rate on exit at 13%. In 2018 entrepreneur levels were only at 11%. Is it because these statistics focus on informal traders, who do not have the exit qualifications, like grades 10-12 to actually engage in further enterprise education? The limitation is there. Favourable conditions need to exist for the entrepreneurial student to develop a sense of competence and strengthen the self-esteem that come from being immersed in a learning system that has as its roots in the relationships s/he establish- es with her/himself and the world, enabling a significant training, which takes into account their past history and previous entry into venturing into entrepreneurship.

In other countries, entrepreneurship is significant in growing the economy. For instance in Ghana entrepreneurship is synonymous with the creation of new ventures by harnessing resources and successfully running the venture. Thus, only those who have been successful in creating new ventures, particularly small businesses are referred to as Entrepreneurs in Ghana.
Desk research of an entrepreneurial education case study in Ghana
suggests that tertiary students have a better rate of survival in start-up businesses, based on the education they receive through an Entrepreneurial Clinic at Universities in Ghana, specifically the ones mentioned below…(Ralph Nyadu- Addo – (Centre for Business Development, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana) and Mavis Serwah Benneh Mensah, (Centre for Entrepreneurship and Small Enterprise Development, University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast, Ghana)
Innovating in business also as an activity should be inherent in En- trepreneurship, and it becomes a way to learn to be an Entrepreneur. Entrepreneurs should, therefore, establish a relationship between innovation and Entrepreneurship as a way of promoting Entrepreneurship education. That teaching entrepreneurs should invest firstly in their own continuous professional growth and development and thereby ensure they are pursuing a relationship that is based on inquiry, innovation, and reflection.

How are we going to make the link between education
and entrepreneurship attractive to aspiring smmes?

There has to be differentiating factors such as:

  • Revising entrepreneurial education…introducing is as a subject at preparatory or primary schools and continuing the curriculum at high schools;
  • Introduce clinics where a programme is run and entrepreneurs have to attend and become competent in all facets of running a business…this is imperative as we all know an entrepreneur wears many hats;
  • Write a national entrepreneurship policy that focuses on different levels of entrepreneurship and career paths for enterprising people;
  • Incubators, in South Africa we have quite a number of these, however, entrepreneurs do not have the time to attend these long-winded pro- grammes, they have a product to manufacture or sell…
  • The government needs to empower more enterprising individuals who can combine practical and theoretical knowledge to youth preparing them for the world of an entrepreneur;
  • Before an entrepreneur actually takes that step to start a business, there needs to be an assessment of the character traits as well as the ability of the person to actually carry out the tasks of an entrepreneur;
  • There should be a framework to capture the relevant support needed by these people and institutions must be created in order to support our entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Significant constraints for Entrepreneurs and the value of education in addressing these challenges.

Most entrepreneurs face significant constraints to growing their businesses and here are but a few:

  1. Access to finance
  2. Job creation
  3. Staying relevant
  4. Technology
  5. Sustainability
    Having the education to know how to address these constraints means entrepreneurs are able to take these and make it a positive outcome by taking on the challenges through attending relevant courses or workshops and being aware of how they can change their entrepreneurial activities.
    ©Julia Falken May 2019

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