Feature Article of Sunday, 14 August 2011
Columnist: Sakyi, Kwesi Atta
By Kwesi Atta Sakyi
It is said that necessity is the mother of invention and if the going gets tough, the tough gets going. The type of Western Education which the British bequeathed to Ghana and other colonies was examination-centred. It was also meant to serve the colonial apparatus of producing office clerks, hence perpetuating the syndrome of hewers of wood and drawers of water. The British, Americans, Germans, Japanese and Indians have since moved on long ago to make their products entrepreneurs, pragmatists, problem solvers, functionalists, utilitarians and people who can think on their feet and who are action-oriented. With the current spate of globalization in a fluid and dynamic global village, it is a desideratum and imperative for individuals and nations to find ways to adapt or perish. Survival instincts therefore come to the fore. We need to unlock the giant and genius in us in order to meet our needs. It is a brutal world of survival of the fittest. There is no more state largesse as most strategic public services have been privatized and outsourced in order to reduce government burden and expenditure. Paradoxically, this has not translated into lessening the burden of the taxpayer. Who is an entrepreneur? He is a person who first spots a market gap or niche and seeks to fill it creatively, timely and in a cost-efficient manner. Therefore, an entrepreneur is one who creates or starts a new business (start-up) and nurtures it from a small state (sole proprietor or partnership) until it becomes a plc or multinational conglomerate. An entrepreneur is therefore a grower of business who discovers, dreams, designs and delivers (4D model). An entrepreneur dreams big and thinks big like Bill Carson, Thomas Edison, Mo Ibrahim, Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Annie Roddick, Steve Job, Cyril Ramaphosa or Azumah Banda. These are people with passion for translating their pet ideas into commercially-feasible businesses which employ thousands of people. Some of them started from rags to riches. These days, we have very young millionaires and billionaires, mostly technopreneurs such as Mark Zuckerberg, the inventor of Facebook. Of course, risk taking is an important ingredient for an entrepreneur who should plan carefully.
ENTREPRENUERSHIP TRAINING IN SCHOOLS
In our primary schools and JHS, we should incorporate entrepreneurship education in the school curriculum to catch them young. This means that concepts such as innovation, empowerment, cost reduction and value addition should be taught to young pupils. Apart from examining them in these concepts, they should be given practical tasks or business projects to undertake. Besides, pupils should be exposed to practical aspects of business by conducting tours to business premises, inviting successful business people to schools to give talks, inviting parents and motivational speakers to share their experiences, and organize business fairs, science fairs and industrial theme parks.
QUALITIES OF AN ENTREPRENEUR
First and foremost, an entrepreneur should be a business leader with leadership qualities of being proactive, visionary, problem-solver, having great networking and interpersonal skills, a good judge of people and events, being honest, diligent, committed, action-oriented, fair, firm and fair, innovative, good organizer and planner, highly focused, courageous and assertive, first mover to exploit opportunities, great communicator and articulator of complex ideas, among others. He should be curious and be quick to learn new methods and have a huge appetite for research and investigations.
ROLE OF TEACHERS AND EDUCATORS
Teachers and educators should help design new curriculum for schools and they should lead the way in producing textbooks and workbooks. Besides, they should expose their tutees to related concepts such as intellectual property rights, (patents, copyright, trademark), reverse engineering, business process re-engineering, unique selling point (USP), value chain integration, Porter’s 5 Forces, Porter’s Generic Strategies, Porter’s’ Diamond Model, Porter’s Competitive Advantage of Nations, Peter Druckers’s MBO (Management By Objectives) and the use of ICT (Information Communication Technology) for driving business, such a e-tailing, e-commerce, e-cash, e-banking. If schools are networked with internet connectivity, then pupils can do a lot of training online and they can play business simulated games such as monopoly, in the lion’s den, secret millionaire and watch videos of many business models. Therefore, schools in Ghana need access to the internet as a top priority of empowering the kids to become future employers and not employees. We should help them think outside the box by whipping up their zeal and creativity. We should encourage them to be adventurous risk takers.
ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
• In each district, entrepreneurial training centres should be set up so that JHS and SHS dropouts can be co-opted and given 3 months’ crash programme in basics of running a business. These centres should be manned by soldiers to enforce discipline. Those who design feasible or bankable projects should be assisted to obtain finance in order for them to live their dreams.
• Government should source for cheap computers from overseas (Computers for Africa, based in South Africa and headed by a Ghanaian) and supply them to all schools in Ghana.
• The Government should simplify the process and cost of registering a business, either as a sole trader or Private Company Ltd.
• Successful businessmen and businesswomen should be called upon to mentor school dropouts or take them on as apprentices to pass on their skills. The Ministry of Social Welfare can liaise with Churches, Charities and NGOs to identify those school dropouts with needs to assist them integrate into society.
• NYEP (National Youth Employment Programme) should set up centres for skills training, working with donor agencies such as DFID, USAID, GTZ, SNV, JICA, SIDA, CIDA, NORAD, FINNIDA, Irish ARO, WB and AfDB. These multilateral and bilateral aid agencies should be prevailed upon to provide us training inputs such as tools, machines, computers, instructional materials, classrooms and technical personnel or experts.
The author is a teacher of 41 years standing and has authored 2 poetry books, Mulungushi Sounds (2007) and Mosi O Tunya Sounds (2009) and has a manuscript of 100 poems yet to be published. He holds a B.A (Hons) Legon, MPA (UNISA), Group Diploma, Business Administration (Jersey), and Teachers’ Certificate ‘A’ (4 yr). Email: email@example.com