Studying Entrepreneurship

Training for Entrepreneurs in Developing Countries

Written by Samuel Muriithi for Gaebler Ventures

It is quite evident that self-employment has yet to be fully advanced as a feasible career alternative for potential young entrepreneurs in developing countries. Poor training structures are partially to blame for the current situation. Are there workable alternatives that can turn these around for the better?

Thanks to the high population growth rates in most developing countries, young people below 20 years of age form the highest percentage of current populations.

Many of these young people complete their education every year but only a few manage to find employment in the formal sector. The rest are resigned to becoming part of the ever-increasing unemployment scourge unless they can find a useful engagement where they can put their acquired knowledge and skills to productive use.

Whilst young entrepreneurs in developing countries can acquire technical skills at the technical and vocational training institutions near them, there is often a lack of proper small enterprise and/or self-employment education. This implies that the graduates of these institutions will are spewed into the job market minus the requisite backgrounds, experiences, or maturity to help them take advantage of the self-employment opportunities in the wider economy. Without a doubt there is need for these institutions to come up with effective training modules that will equip young entrepreneurs with both entrepreneurial and managerial skills necessary for running small enterprises.

The problems that have accumulated over the years with regards to this issue have elicited some valid pointers that can be used to resolve or make amends to the current state of affairs. In catering to the training needs for young entrepreneurs:

- Formal and informal education opportunities should be availed to them so that they can make informed decisions as to whether or not they can go into self-employment

- Those who are already starting out as young entrepreneurs in developing countries should be provided with a couple of necessary services required to help them get along

- Young entrepreneurs whose businesses have already been established should continually be assisted with extension-type and follow-up services which will be fundamental in helping them manage and expand their enterprises

- In developing countries it is quite evident that the relationship between entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship success is quite minimal. Indeed most of the people who are successful in running their own businesses have received little related education, some only managed to acquire a very basic formal education. This disjointedness is most probably as a result of an inept curriculum rather than the education system as a whole.

- The trend in these countries so far has been that the entrepreneurship curriculum is absent from the lower education levels and is only introduced in post-secondary school institutions like colleges, technical institutions and universities.

Over time this has proved counter-effective; entrepreneurship education can be most effective if it provided in a series of levels as follows:

Career awareness - This is specifically for the young people in primary and secondary school and should be aimed at enabling them consider self-employment as a viable career.

Career direction - This should target young entrepreneurs already in employment but considering a switch to self-employment. The coursework can involve aspects of small business ownership and management and can be taught in one-day workshops at designated locations.

Starting a small business - This is intended for the young entrepreneurs who've made a personal commitment to start a small business. The coursework is much lengthier and as a necessity it must include aspects of business plan development and a review of what the processes involved in starting a business are.

Small business maintenance - These can be offered in the form of specific courses for the various small enterprise aspects of management, finance, marketing, and planning production.

Small business expansion - Considering that each business has its unique situations, small business expansion education can best be offered on a one-to-one basis, preferably by consultants. It is in this way that the young entrepreneurs cum business owners can be advised on what new techniques and procedures they need to embrace as they anticipate business growth.

Samuel Muriithi is a business owner in Nairobi, Kenya. He has extensive international business experience in the United States and India.

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