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Enabling Young Entrepreneurs: Insights from Ashesi and McGill Research

Faculty members from Ashesi University and McGill University recently shared preliminary research findings on enabling young entrepreneurs. The collaborative research sheds light on strategies to support and empower the next generation of business innovators.

The project, conducted in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, is led by Dr. Gordon Adomdza (Associate Professor at Ashesi) and Dr. Nii Addy (Associate Director of Africa Outreach at McGill University). Since 2022, the research team has tracked Mastercard Foundation Scholars from the two universities across twelve African countries and investigated the experiential and entrepreneurial learning activities that have influenced their careers most.  

Enabling Young Entrepreneurs in Africa: an Ashesi Radio conversation with faculty Dr. Adomdza.

The study highlights the importance of fostering entrepreneurship among students and alumni, showcasing the vital role educational institutions play in nurturing future leaders in the business world. By providing a conducive environment for entrepreneurial growth, universities can effectively drive student and alumni entrepreneurship.

Ahead of completing and publishing the report, the two universities convened the conference for stakeholders from universities, government, development agencies, civil society, and businesses to contribute their perspectives on the role of education experiences on student and alumni entrepreneurship. In so doing, the research team hopes to make the report more helpful for various stakeholders, especially other Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme partners, seeking to help student utilise their educational experiences for social transformation and prosperity. 

One of the key findings from the research emphasises the need for a comprehensive approach to entrepreneurship education. It is not just about imparting theoretical knowledge but also fostering practical skills and experiences that equip young entrepreneurs to navigate the complexities of the business landscape.

“There is a need for institutions to be in partnership with industry and other stakeholders to provide students and alumni with the relevant experience needed to run a business,” Beauty Beatrice Kwawu, Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program Manager at the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) Ghana shared. “We need to give students and alumni the opportunity to practice, encounter challenges, fail and learn from those failures to form successful ventures.” 

Presentations and conversations included a review of the research project by the two research leads, an overview of entrepreneurship ecosystems, learnings from the University of Cape Coast (UCC) by Dr. Keren Arthur (Senior Lecturer and Director for the Design Innovation Hub at UCC), and a panel discussion.

“As an institution, our goal is to educate entrepreneurs while emphasising ethics,” shared the Head of Computer Science and Information Systems at Ashesi, Dr Ayorkoh Korsah, who was a keynote speaker alongside Samuel Akomea, Senior Lecturer at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Business School. “We acknowledge that we cannot achieve this mission alone. Therefore, we must engage with our alumni, partners, and stakeholders within the ecosystem to collectively pursue this mission.” 

Furthermore, the research underscores the significance of mentorship and networking opportunities in nurturing entrepreneurial talent. By connecting students and alumni with industry experts and successful entrepreneurs, universities can create a supportive ecosystem that enables aspiring business leaders to thrive.

The collaborative efforts between Ashesi and McGill not only provide valuable insights into fostering entrepreneurship but also highlight the impact of academic research in driving real-world innovation and economic growth. By continuing to explore and share their findings, the two institutions are contributing to the development of a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Lynn Brown
Lynn Brown
Lynn is a content marketer that focuses on brand storytelling through digital platforms. Skilled in a background of web development, search engine optimization and content production, Lynn is excited to utilize over 10 years’ experience in digital marketing to help grow the ecosystems that support Africa’s very young entrepreneurs to ensure their success.

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