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Business News of Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Source: UBA Ghana

Entrepreneurship programme must be experiential - Abiola Bawuah

Mrs. Abiola Bawuah, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of UBA Ghana Mrs. Abiola Bawuah, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of UBA Ghana

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of UBA Ghana, Mrs. Abiola Bawuah, has prompted Tertiary Institutions to make entrepreneurship programmes practical, experiential and relevant with local content.

The renowned banker, during her Keynote speaker lecture at the 10th Anniversary Public Lecture of the PENVARS Journal of the Pentecost University College was addressing the topic: “Growing Entrepreneurial Talent- A Challenge for Ghana’s Educational Systems”.

Countries thrive on the private sector and encouraging and training people to start a trade is one surest way of building the entrepreneurial base of a country no matter how small. The concept of entrepreneurship has been with us since creation. At a point, we seemed to have drifted away from it especially at the commencement of Western education- the eagerness and the joy to go through the academic process for a white collar job may have illusion us as a people.

Did we lose the way? May be yes!...the attention of many tertiary institutions to bring back entrepreneurship may back my earlier answer. The trade that we were all trained with, such days when a child grew up with a handy-work had been exchanged with good education yet inadequate jobs in the long run for these same elite. Did we misunderstand education at all? Or did we embrace it without looking? To Mrs. Abiola, entrepreneurship courses should not only be for tertiary level students but also from the basic schools. Entrepreneurship should start from the primary schools, she reiterated.

The concept of entrepreneurship has a wide range of meanings. On the one extreme, an entrepreneur is a person of very high aptitude who pioneers change, possessing characteristics found in only a very small fraction of the population.

On the other hand, in the words of Landau, entrepreneurship is the process whereby people, money, market, production facilities and knowledge are brought together to create a commercial enterprise which did not exist before. An entrepreneur is a catalyst of change!

According to the well-known banker, entrepreneurship is the most effective way to bridge the gap between knowledge (formal or informal) and the market place through the creation of enterprises. Due to this, we must not lose sight of the important role education plays in developing the characteristics that are critical to nurturing successful entrepreneurs.

“As Ghana’s educational system seeks to identify, create and nurture a breed of next generation of entrepreneurs who will identify and pursue opportunities for the advancement of humanity, we should be mindful of the fact that, successful entrepreneurship requires sacrifice and other personal attributes such as confidence, autonomy, strong work ethic, vision, empathy and self-control”, Mrs. Bawuah added.

She said, “Every man has a creative ability in him or her waiting to be discovered. It may be one or two or even five talents- every man at least has one talent”! Mrs. Bawuah continued by saying, the challenge for every educational system is to help every man discover and nurture that ability without conditions. In 2015 alone, UBA empowered 10,000 entrepreneurs in Africa. To her dismay, only 36 Ghanaians applied for the ‘begging’ funds. She encouraged Ghanaians to take advantage of such opportunities and harness their God given talents.

According the “Accelerating Entrepreneurship in Africa” by The Omidyar Network, only 14% of Ghanaian entrepreneurs feel they have the expertise to manage new firms as against Kenya’s 23%, a situation Mrs. Bawuah found worrying. However, she noted that, in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor-2015/2016 Global Report, there were 27.9% female entrepreneurs as against 23.45% male entrepreneurs in Ghana in 2013, a picture she felt was rather encouraging.

Again, according to the “Status of Entrepreneurship Education in Colleges and Universities in Sub-Saharan Africa” by Jean Kobongo, in sub-Saharan Africa, there are 86% of Universities that offer entrepreneurship course. However, 28% out of this have a programme specializing in entrepreneurship and only 7% have an entrepreneurship development centre. She called on stakeholders to help bridge this gap by providing funding and the environment that would facilitate the development of entrepreneurs.

Mrs. Bawuah further on challenged the audience with the words of Steve Jobs, “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice; and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary”.

If entrepreneurship is well harnessed, there is the possibility of creating more jobs, driving economic growth and development, enhancing competition, innovation and productivity.

Mrs. Abiola Bawuah concluded by saying, “In a world of rising unemployment, we must inspire the heart of every one to entrepreneurial action at every level”.