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Teaching Students to Start Businesses on Campus

Entrepreneurship is becoming more desirable. Schools are teaching students to start their businesses on campus and graduate to become self-employed, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

Some universities tend to be; dedicated to lofty ideals such as the advancement of literature, science and art. These days, they seem just as dedicated to the advancement of the next Dangotes and Mark Zuckerbergs.

They are increasingly offering courses in entrepreneurship, start-up workshops and summer programmes for students seeking to start their own companies. There are hundreds of student start-ups and no shortage of high-flying success stories.

One such institution is Ashesi University, Ghana where several entrepreneurs have launched their businesses before completing their first degree.

This was the dream of its founder and President, Dr Patrick Awuah.

He was the keynote speaker at Leap Africa’s Social Innovators Programme and Awards, in Lagos.

Ashesi University is known for its high-tech facilities and strong emphasis on business and technology.

After leaving Ghana in 1985 to the United States to study, Dr Awuah benefited from the liberal arts education from Swarthmore College, in Pennsylvania, which showed him the power of critical thinking, a stark contrast to his prior schooling. After graduating, Awuah had a very successful career at Microsoft, where he spearheaded the design for dial-up Internet access.

Working his way up to reckoning at Microsoft in the United States; in just a few years, he found himself suddenly getting disconnected to his job. It was the calling for entrepreneurship beckoning on him. While he had taken on greater challenges in his career as an IT expert, making a professional name for himself, he has also developed a real love for giving back.

He made up his mind that he was going to return to Ghana to make a difference in his country. He considered starting a software company, but realised that people, who had studied programming in Africa had learned to code on paper without a chance to develop their ideas on computers.

Based on this, he changed his mind to establish an entrepreneurial driven university, which grooms young leaders to drive sustainable businesses.

After the initial challenges, the project took off. Construction of the Ashesi campus began in 2009 and it was ready for academic life about two years later.

Today, Ashesi University is a reference point in entrepreneurship oriented education.

Looking ahead, Awuah said he hopes Africa’s universities will cultivate a new generation of bold and innovative leaders, helping the continent to transform itself.

Co-founder, Leap Africa, and Group Managing Director of SO&U Group, Mr Udeme Ufot, said Awuah’s story was unique in his awakening to the role of renewed ethical leadership in social transformation, particularly in Africa.

According to him, the university is training young people, who will be leaders in business and government.

Ufot said Nigeria needs social entrepreneurs to create solutions that will have impact on the society. According to him, social entrepreneurs are key stakeholder segment to engage in delivering such basic services and opportunities efficiently and effectively to Nigerians.

He said Nigeria faces many challenges from poverty to educational gaps and healthcare concerns.

He said social enterprises offer an opportunity to fill the gaps. They, according to him, not only create jobs, but become catalysts for growth and development.

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