ENTREPRENEURS EDUCATION AS A WAY TO IMPROVE ECONOMIC GROWTH OF A COUNTRY
Entrepreneurs and the small businesses they create are of no doubt economic stimulators. Through proper training techniques, societies create entrepreneurs that develop small businesses and as well maximize the economic potentials of the state, especially that of the rural areas of the state.
Entrepreneurship is the purposeful activity (including an integrated sequence of decisions) of an individual or group of associated individuals, under-taken to initiate, maintain, or aggrandize a profit-oriented business unit for the production or distribution of economic goods and services (Nwachukwu, 1990). Entrepreneurship at least in all non-authoritarian societies constitute a bridge between society as a whole, especially the non-economic aspect of that society, and the profit oriented institutions established to take off its economic development and to satisfy, as best they can, its economic desires.
Schumpeter (1994) defines entrepreneurship as the ability to perceive and undertake business opportunities, taking advantage of scarce resource utilisation. In simplest form, entrepreneurship is the willingness and the ability to seek out investment opportunities and to run an enterprise for profit. In this later sense, entrepreneurship takes premium over capital. It is equally more fundamental than capital because capital formation is the result of entrepreneurial activity. Entrepreneurs are therefore regarded as central figures in economic development. Their contributions run through labour actions, movement of capital goods and conversion of raw materials into finished products, and ultimately, effectual distribution of the products to final consumers. Entrepreneurs are therefore those who search and discover economic opportunities, marshal the financial and other resources necessary for the development of the opportunities, evaluate alternatives available in the environment and allocate resources to the most profitable ones and as well take the ultimate responsibility for the management and/or successful execution of opportunities. An Entrepreneur is somewhat comfortable with taking and assuming risks which are impassioned with the dream being pursued. He or she knows where to get help, and when it is needed, and as well as being ever ready to receive changes in the business surrounding environment (Schumpeter, 1994). Consequently, universities should commence training high level manpower whose characteristics are usually obsessive, focused, articulate, and resourceful. In this way graduates will turn out typically charismatic leaders, and tend to be introspective in the skills of job creation, wealth generation and innovative skill utilization.
Empowering the Nigerian people towards wealth creation, employment generation, poverty reduction and value re-orientation (NEEDS, 2005), is a foremost cardinal point for strategic macro-economic framework. This also reflects in the recent increase in the demand for educational programmes in entrepreneurship in the country’s tertiary institutions, parastatals and non-governmental paradigms. If fully satisfied, this new vision and values would shine the spotlight on small medium scale business activities in Nigeria. Thus, increased education on entrepreneurial skills would create that perfect opportunity to stimulate economic growth. Institutions are therefore to properly train individuals who will have the right tools necessary to commence and grow successful businesses with reduced risk of failure.
Entrepreneurship education and training becomes very important machinery to meet this national goal. Nevertheless, while it is not absolutely necessary for an individual to obtain entrepreneurship training to be successful, obtaining an entrepreneurial education serves as a tremendous advantage to increasing the chances of success as an entrepreneur. This is because training is still focused and directed at achieving a purpose while education is all encompassing. Thus, great strides are required to be made towards the goal of educating people to become entrepreneurs to enhance economic growth and development. It is against this background that this write-up in its other subsequent aspects tends to examine:
- The theoretical framework for the subject under discussion,
- Underlying issues in entrepreneurial education in Nigeria,
- Efforts toward entrepreneurial development in Nigeria,
- Entrepreneurial education and economic growth development,
- Conclusion and Recommendations.
1.1 Theoretical and Conceptual Issues
Entrepreneurship is frequently a scarce resource because entrepreneurs are gap fillers and inputs completers and these are highly scarce talents. David C. McClelland of Harvard University, U.S.A., highlighted this paramount importance of entrepreneurship in his “Need Theory of Entrepreneurship”. McClelland made a comprehensive contribution to the conceptualization of motivators to entrepreneurship development by identifying three types of basic motivating needs which he classified as need for power (n/PWR), and need for affiliation (n/AAF), and need for achievement (n/ACH).
Considerable research has been done on method of testing people with respect to these three types of needs, and McClelland and his associates have done substantial research, especially on the need for achievement drive. Research on achievement needs has been noteworthy and is often used by psychologists as a prototype of how knowledge should be researched and discovered in the behavioural science as a way of developing entrepreneurship. All three drives; power, affiliation and achievement, are of relevance to management since all must be recognised to make organised enterprise work well, because such enterprise and its departments represents group of individuals working together to achieve goals, hence the paramount importance of the need for achievement in entrepreneurship development.
Need for Power
McClelland and his associates postulated that people with a high need for power have a greater concern for exercising influence and control. Such individuals, and/or societies generally seek positions of leadership, they are forceful, outspoken and they enjoy teaching others as well as form a public mouthpiece. According to NEEDS (2005), Nigeria as a nation with high need for power is a founding member of the New Economic Partnership for African Development and the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS). This also explains why 92 percent trainee teachers in Technology education at the University of Lagos indicated willingness to interact with industries while the studentship lasted (ILO, 1995).
Need for Affiliation
People with a high need for affiliation are noted to always desire pleasure from being loved and as such tend to avoid the pain of being rejected by a social group. As individuals, they are likely to be concerned with maintaining pleasant social relationships to enjoy a sense of intimacy and understanding, to be ready to console and help others in trouble, and to enjoy friendly interaction with others.
Need for Achievement
Also, people with a high need for achievement are noted to have intense desire for success and equally intense fear of failure. They want to be challenged, they set moderately difficult (but not impossible) goals for themselves, take a realistic approach to risk (they are not likely to be coin tossers, but rather to analyze and assess problems), prefer to assume personal responsibility to get a job done, like specific and prompt feedback on how they are doing, tend to be restless, like to work long hours, do not worry unduly of failure if it does occur, and tend to like to run their own shows. People with this type of behaviour were confirmed to often become entrepreneurs.
Besides, McClelland and his associates emphasized that apart from the reason of market structure and other input deficiencies, entrepreneurial activities as well as entrepreneurs also arise because of the need to develop new skills, ideas and products; the need to provide leadership, motivation, direction and an organization so as to solve potential crisis situations, and the capacity to carry ultimate responsibilities for the organizational structure, and the need to provide time-binding contractual arrangements. They concluded by enumerating some factors that could promote entrepreneurship development. These are as follows:
- A free and democratic society,
- A free enterprise economic system,
- The rate of growth of the economy (the greater the rate of growth, the higher the challenge for entrepreneurship development),
- The opportunity costs of developing private initiative,
- The available alternatives in the environment,
- The behaviour of entrepreneurs in choice and decision making (the need to achieve),
- The rewards system in the society (the higher the reward system, the greater the challenge to be an entrepreneurs),
- The attitude of the society (interest in sharing and releasing their assets for productive and profitable activities),
- The tradition and culture of the people, cultural beliefs and taboos,
- The motivational tools and techniques available to the entrepreneur, that is, technology in use,
- The educational system in the society,
- The motive of an individual (whether risk averter or risk taker can develop into entrepreneurs),
- Political reformation, religious tolerance, security, adequate and appropriate amenities, e.t.c.
- The possession of an achievers behaviour and attitude, and
- Poverty, inability to raise fund and/or obtain loan easily.
Besides, the traditional definition of development by economists which emphasized long-term sustained increase in national income per head, has given way to new concepts and definitions involving desirable changes in social structures, institutions, attitudes, income distribution, freedom of choice, quality of life and capabilities, in addition to sustained appreciable growth in national income. The definition of Todaro and Smith (2003) properly pictures the new concept about development thus:
“Development, in its essence, must represent the whole gamut of change by which an entire social system, added, to the diverse basic needs and desires of individuals and social groups within that system, moves away from a condition of life widely perceived as unsatisfactory toward a situation or condition of life regarded as materially and spiritually better”.
Todaro and Smith did not only agree that the concept of development is a multidimensional process that goes beyond economic growth, but also have reviewed other literature on the term “development” and came up with three core values of development as well as three objectives of development as a practical and universal basic for the concept of development.. In this same line of reasoning, developing countries including Nigeria have put forward more practical and encompassing objectives of development. For example, from a synthesis of Nigeria’s national development plans of the 60s, 70s and early 80s, Fashola (2006) notes that the following objectives may be a summary of the entire development plans of this country since 1960 to hitherto. They are:
- Appreciable growth in national income that will raise per capita income significantly,
- Promotion of self-reliant economic development (particularly in regard to balance of payments solvency and technological self-reliance),
- Promotion of equitable income distribution and social justice,
- Promotion of price stability,
- Promotion of fuller employment,
- Balanced socio-economic development, and
- Protection of the physical environment and ecological balance.
A critical scrutiny of the above development objectives reflects in no little measure the essence and need for the development and expansion of our entrepreneurial sector, the role of which is very significant here in expediting the successful attainment of the aforementioned objectives.
1.2 Underlying Issues in Entrepreneurial Education in Nigeria
In Nigeria today, it is distinct that there are substantial deficiencies in entrepreneurial knowledge among the general population and high school students. This indicates a clear recognition among these groups that true entrepreneurial education is needed. Consequently, entrepreneurial education will serve as an important tool to prepare Nigerians for the economic challenges and opportunities of the future.
Education in entrepreneurship and economies is a very important component to help the public understand entrepreneurism and its environment, especially now that entrepreneurism is on the verge of many major changes. This is because the information age has substantially increased the number of resources available to entrepreneurs. Innovations like the internet have created opportunities for change and growth in the management of small businesses which helped entrepreneurs to grow their businesses on a global scale without incurring the expenses generated from opening multiple business locations. Through distance education, individuals also have access to entrepreneurial education that may not otherwise have been available to them.
Entrepreneurship education in Nigeria must be geared towards creating a change in mental orientation from the “take-a-job” mentality to the “make-a-job” mentality. The country’s education system today prepares its students to take-a-job upon graduation. If a student wants to venture into the virtues of the make-a-job mentality, he/she can only do so through the powers of observation. This puts several would-be entrepreneurs at a disadvantage. Without proper mentors or effective entrepreneurship education to help them create successful businesses from their un-harnessed interests, abilities, and dreams, they will never see the lessons of entrepreneurship and consequently may never realise their entrepreneurial dreams (Theresa Cyr, 2006).
According to Theresa, three attributes are extremely important in entrepreneurship education. These include:
- The ability to identify or recognize a market opportunity and the ability to generate a business idea, service or product that seizes that opportunity;
- The ability to marshal and commit resources to pursue that opportunity while facing the prospect of risk; and
- The ability to create an operating business organization that implements the opportunity-motivated business idea.
The majority of the entrepreneurial education programmes in our universities and other tertiary institutions do not focus on teaching the above three principles. Instead, they focus on the general principles of management required to keep or maintain a business. These general management principles are definitely necessary for the students, but the topics need to be preceded by instruction of how to recognize business opportunities, gather the necessary resources, and start the business.
Only in the implementation phase of business creation do the management principles become important to budding entrepreneurs. If a student does not learn the first three major principles of entrepreneurship, their entrepreneurial training serves only as inadequate preparation for their future as entrepreneurs.
One major programme in the world today that defines this norm is the Centre for Entrepreneurial Studies at Babson University in Boston. While the centre’s curriculum still teaches the basics of management as part of the coursework required to obtain a degree, elective courses are available to teach the process of understanding entrepreneurs, finding opportunities, and converting those opportunities into successful ventures. Other courses teach general business management techniques and financing principles, all from an entrepreneurial viewpoint. Students are also shown positive entrepreneurial role models to emulate and are given the task of working on entrepreneurial projects in the field, which gives them a handsome approach to entrepreneurism.
Currently many other entrepreneurial training programmes focus on a practical approach, also called the experiential approach, instead of traditional classroom instruction to teach students to be entrepreneurs. While students enjoy foray into practical learning, it still does not teach them how to become entrepreneurs because they are still not taught the three foundational principles guiding entrepreneurship and their entrepreneurial success, hence, the need to meaningfully and appropriately appraise the University of Lagos effort at introducing entrepreneurship education as a General Study (GST 307).
1.3 Efforts toward Entrepreneurial Development in Nigeria
Besides, the little efforts made by the universities, polytechnics and federal colleges of education (technical) in the country to impact some entrepreneurial skills in students before graduation, a strong conspicuous effort was made toward entrepreneurial skill development in the country in 2001 when Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) was launched.
When SIFE was launched, many saw it as a major global movement to encourage the nation’s students of higher institutions to develop their entrepreneurial skills and play vital role in developing their immediate community. It was then argued by a school of thought that the presence of SIFE in our polytechnics and universities would discourage students from engaging themselves in occult and other nefarious activities.
According to the country deputy coordinator, Mr. Ayodele Thompson, SIFE Nigeria provides the students with the best opportunities to make a difference by developing in them, leadership, teamwork and communication skills through learning, practicing and teaching the principles of free enterprise. Students are meaningfully and practically engaged to design and undertake various projects on their own. Such projects which must satisfy certain criteria are executed as a team by each institution. Students are helped to develop a better understanding of the principles of free enterprise and how to use this information to empower themselves and achieve their dreams. These students as well impact entrepreneurial skills to people in their immediate communities and at the same time gain from the exercise. They helped the people in their communities to take the advantage of internet provision by harnessing its potentials and benefits from the global economy. They also teach the people to obey the business ethics by observing the rules and regulations surrounding the production of a particular commodity or service.
With its core philosophies predicated on community teaching and leadership services, SIFE is a global non-profit organization that prepares students for real world by facing real challenges. Students are encouraged to tackle problems that they may not find on the pages of text books. SIFE serves as a bridge from the classroom to the working world or labour market. Consequently, students are prepared for the work place with global awareness, a strong, socially responsible work ethic, leadership, communication and entrepreneurial skills.
SIFE Nigeria is presently constituted by about 30 institutions comprising Training Institutes, Polytechnics, and Universities across the Federation. Founded in 1975 in the United States of America, SIFE has more than 1,200 active college and university campuses in over 31 countries in the world (http://www.sdnetwork.kabissa.org).
1.4 Entrepreneurial Education and Economic Growth
It is worthwhile to re-emphasize here that entrepreneurs and the small businesses they create are economic stimulators. Our country’s economic growth hinges on our ability to create new jobs through entrepreneurship, and successful entrepreneurship, in turn, requires well-trained aspiring entrepreneurs willing to take the helm of venture creation. Economic growth chiefly comes from an increase in the number of jobs available and an innovation in the products and services offered. Hence, new business ventures which are fundamentals of entrepreneurism, play a significant role in economic growth and development of any nation.
Start-ups are a major source of new jobs; they play a critical role in GDP growth and in restructuring economic sectors; and are a significant and viable career option for many. A country’s rate of economic development is critically linked to the level of entrepreneurial activity. The level of this activity reflects the perception of the availability of start-up opportunities and the public’s motivation and ability to pursue these opportunities (Theresa Cyr, 2006).
The GEM initiative created in late 1997 as a joint research venture between Babson College and London Business School, first studied entrepreneurism and its relation to economic growth cum development. It is a research project designed, “to establish the role and impact of the entrepreneurial sector on economic growth and development”. The first year was spent collecting data on precursors to national entrepreneurial activity, the levels of entrepreneurial activity, and on the consequences of that activity. Data was collected in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, U.K., U.S., Denmark, Finland, and Israel. It was eventually found that there is a strong correlation between entrepreneurial start-up rates, growth in the national GDP and the employment rate.
Besides, entrepreneurship is a major contributor to modern market economies. And as change and adaptation continue at an increasing rate, understanding the mechanisms associated with the implementation and growth of new firms is becoming more important. Though there is neither accurate count of entrepreneurial ventures within the country nor probable data to measure the impact of these ventures on the economy, their importance and need for economic growth and development remains unimpeachable.
In the development of the appropriate human capital needed for the growth and development of any economy, education and health is sine qua non. Besides, considering the different propositions of some economists and educationists on the type of human labour that will facilitate and expedite economic growth and development in Nigeria, the need for entrepreneurship education in the country becomes very paramount. Entrepreneurship education would therefore help immensely produce the desired and appropriate manpower specifically needed for Nigerian economic growth and development as described by Harbison:
“Appropriate human resources constitute the ultimate basis for the wealth of nations. Capital and natural resources are passive factors of production; human beings are the active agents who accumulate capital, exploit natural resources, build social, economic and political organization, and carry forward national development, clearly, a country which is unable to develop the skills and knowledge of its people and utilize them effectively in the national economy will be unable to develop anything else” (Harbison, 1973, p.3).
The words of Harbison do not only summarize the importance of appropriate nurtured human resources in economic growth and development of a nation but also articulates the authenticity and worthwhile-ness of our proposition in this write-up for the inauguration of “Entrepreneurship Education” to help produce the desired human capital needed to expedite the economic growth and development of the Nigerian economy.
1.5 Conclusion and Recommendations
In conclusion, entrepreneurism is a phenomenon that is gaining global popularity today. It is one of the best ways to grow an economy because it creates the basis for the economy. The biggest reason Nigeria is not experiencing more entrepreneurs is because of a lack of education about entrepreneurial activity at all levels of her educational system. With a properly designed entrepreneurial curriculum in place in Nigerian schools, the number of entrepreneurs would increase dramatically and the economic health of the country would also increase. Small businesses have the greatest capacity to affect employment factors, the GDP, and the overall economic health of the nation. Nigerians are interested in entrepreneurism and in starting and growing their own businesses now. Thus, if the educational structure is put in place, the economic gains will flow in and Nigeria will find her 140 million potent men and women (2006 Census) in the path of becoming an economic superpower in the near future.
Consequently, I recommend that entrepreneurship education and training should be expanded and intensified. Entrepreneurial education is fair but unsatisfactory in some business programmes and schools in the country. It needs to proliferate outside of the domains of these programmes and schools. The number of Nigerians exposed to high-level entrepreneurship education is relatively small. If Nigeria really wants to grow through entrepreneurial ventures, the relevant education must be expounded and made available to more students and individuals.
Students in disciplines other than business should be exposed to many different opportunities and ideas and need to know how to discern which opportunities have commercial potential. The best vehicle for this education is more collaboration between departments, which can be difficult due to problems with scheduling, faculty workloads, funding, credit allocations, and other problems common to higher education.
There should be start-up entrepreneurship education at the primary (Basic Education) and secondary school levels. At the primary level, entrepreneurial concepts could be integrated throughout the curriculum. Students at the secondary schools level could as well take courses that address entrepreneurship and basic economic concepts and related issues. This will enable those who will not pursue tertiary education degrees to grasp the rudiments of entrepreneurship education before going into apprenticeship/craftsmanship per se and the world of work.
This education is especially important not only because everyone can become an entrepreneur, but to provide at least a basic instruction to ensure that all future entrepreneurs have the maximum level of knowledge and skills necessary to start and manage a business. Implicitly to create, manage, and share wealth following some degree of expertise.
Another enhancement avenue should be for government to simplify the compliance pressures and reduce interventions on entrepreneurial ventures. This would improve efficiency and as well as help ventures to be successful through the first critical parts of their lives. Simplification of compliance procedures would save time and labour costs at the birth of venture, which would increase survival chances of the new ventures.
Also, government should respond to enhance its entrepreneurism in this country. All business activity in this country occurs in an institutional context, which includes government regulations and policies, and the education and legal systems. While no one can truly predict shifts in the economic base, the government could develop frameworks for providing and regulating infrastructure that facilitate more business activities. This objective could also be accomplished by adapting existing procedures as long as the facilitation of business activities is efficient and possible in the areas where resources are scarce.
Finally, government through increasing the availability of financing in the seed stage of new business could enhance the country’s entrepreneurial base. Since this situation varies with industries and geographic regions, the knowledge provided should be variegated. The process of obtaining fund often drains an entrepreneur’s time and resources. He or she must endure a huge amount of bureaucratic red tape before this is done, hence government’s positive intervention must be closely guided, monitored and administered.
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