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Entrepreneurship education is a powerful tool in development aid

Jarle Tømmerbakke, Senior Advisor to JA Europe

One of the most effective instruments in order to create more businesses and more jobs is if students can try it before leaving school. We have seen this through several European research projects, and lately in similar research in Africa.

Unemployment and underemployment, particularly among young people, is one of the main challenges in the fight against poverty globally. Job creation is the main road out of poverty.

JA Worldwide has its annual leadership conference in Boston this week, and job creation and entrepreneurship is on the agenda. Representatives from 100 countries meet to discuss strategy. JA-YE Norway has for more than six years has close cooperation with JA Uganda and more than 70 000 young students have participated in the JA Company Programme. It is interesting to see that the impact of the programme in Uganda is pretty much the same as in Europe. More jobs, more knowledge about job creation, more inspiration and more financial literate young people.

We know a lot about those who receive entrepreneurship education. We know they establishes more businesses than others do, we know their companies are larger and they have greater turnover. We know this from numerous research reports in Scandinavia and in Europe. To get even more documentation, EU recently launched a major research project in five countries to provide even more documentation of the effects of entrepreneurship education.

One question asked is if we will see the same effects of the programme in other continents as we can prove in Europe. A survey carried out among 700 students in 37 schools in Uganda, show the same results as many European reports. In Uganda, we compared a group of students who had received practical entrepreneurship training with a control group who had not received training. We can see from the preliminary results that the group that have had the training, have significantly higher scores on both knowledge about job creation, they are often involved in the early stage of establishing their own business and they score higher on intentions, ability to see opportunities and they have higher ambitions.

More than 75% of the sample think there will be an opportunity where they live to start their own business. Given we know these are still in school; there are opportunities for positive impact on ethical issues. We know that corruption is a major problem in many countries, and a hindrance for investors and development. We also know we spend a lot of effort trying to turn attitudes to corruption and black economy among those who have already practiced it for a long time. Why not use the positive impact of the JA Company Programme to focus on ethical and transparency?

The traditional way of trying to succeed with job creation is 1) First to create favourable conditions for business, 2) Loans and financing opportunities, 3) Energy supply and access to capital. 4) Entrepreneurship training, often outside established social institutions like schools.

Maybe it is time to turn this upside-down 1) Focus on education and in particular entrepreneurship in education at all levels, 2) Ensure that the content is practical and with strong constraints on knowledge of ethics and anti-corruption. 3) Focus financing and credit opportunities against those who can prove they have learned and practiced entrepreneurship in education in school. 4) Work with the young and inspired entrepreneurs, give them favourable conditions and support their positive attitudes.

Originally published as a blog post on Ungt Entreprenørskap (JA Norway) in March 2015.

Category : Entrepreneurship, JA Europe Network, Entrepreneurship Education Posted : 12 April 2015 09:09 UTC
About the Author
Jarle Tømmerbakke, Senior Advisor to JA Europe

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