Connecting the Dots Between Education and Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship has been declared by experts and public affairs commentators to be the most assured strategy or way Nigeria as a country can conquer its unemployment challenges. According to the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics, 4 in 10 Nigerians are unemployed.
Thanks to the painstaking efforts of the government and private sectors to empower Nigerians, a significant number of them are now their own boss. In this struggle to defeat unemployment, an eCommerce platform like Jumia has introduced different initiatives to ensure that Nigerians become entrepreneurs. For the last six years, employed and unemployed Nigerians earn good money through a Jumia initiative known as Jforce. You make commission selling items supplied by Jumia. Your efforts are rewarded: the more you work, the more you earn and interestingly, you need zero capital to start which is the bedrock to earn.
This effort is only farfetched. There is more to be done especially on the part of Nigeria’s many higher institutions. According to the Nigeria Universities Commission, there are 43 Federal Universities, 47 State Universities, and 75 Private Universities plus the many polytechnics and colleges of education. Sadly or unfortunately, only a handful of them offer entrepreneurship education or programme.
Hence, there is no gainsaying that there is a disconnect between education and entrepreneurship. You may have an entrepreneurial spirit but to hone these entrepreneurial skills, you need to educate yourself. However, this is not the case in Nigeria as many who are successful entrepreneurs today undertook personal growth and development notwithstanding if they had a Masters in Business Administration.
There is a need for Nigerian institutions to start offering practical entrepreneurship programmes to empower graduates. Rather than searching for jobs, they will become job creators.
The million naira question now is how can both the educational and entrepreneurial dots be connected? Below are some suggestions.
Create opportunities for students to participate in social entrepreneurship contests
There is nothing more engaging and hands-on than letting students participate in some type of entrepreneurship contests. This includes both social entrepreneurship businesses that may focus more on a social cause and tech startup ventures. Ideally, an entrepreneurship contest can pit two or several student groups against each other—if the contest is sponsored by a single university. Alternatively, a group of institutions can get together and sponsor such contests. A good example of efforts been made in this aspect was the recent Ladoke Akitola University of Technology (LAUTECH) Innovation Challenge where a select number of teams pitched their groundbreaking ideas to seasoned judges from diverse industries as well as before the keen eyes of investors right on the LAUTECH campus. We need more of these initiatives.
Partner with businesses
Entrepreneurship-in-Residence is also an innovative way to foster practical knowledge and allow young professionals to rub elbows with established and experienced entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurship-in-Residence programs facilitate pairing of successful entrepreneurs and startup founders—who serve as mentors and give lectures—with campuses to offer students a real-world perspective of business and entrepreneurship.
Emphasise technology topics in curricula
Technology has asserted its supremacy on today’s global economy. Higher-learning institutions can jumpstart their students’ careers by incorporating more technology topics in the curricula. The idea is not to clog academic programs with coding, programming and computer-hardware courses, but to teach strategic ways companies and entrepreneurs are using technology to innovate, communicate, advertise, and make money.
Being an entrepreneur is not a day’s job. However, your entrepreneurial journey can be boosted or accelerated with education.