Entrepreneurship education and poverty reduction, its implications in the Nigeria labour market
Background to the Study
There is much discussion about the possibility of developing entrepreneurs. Some biographies of successful entrepreneurs often read as if such people entered the word with an extraordinary generic endowment. But there are almost as many counter stories of those who hit on the entrepreneurial jackpot without the benefit of genetics. It is clear that these traits genetics do not fall any sensible pattern for start- up successes. Banfe,(1991) suggest that there is a serendipity of unpredictable events that does not have much to do with family heritage. Successful new ventures are as much the result of a driving entrepreneur with an abundance of luck and timing. The literature suggests that, on balance; it is also beneficial to gain work experience and get adequate education, this scenario will substantially enhance the probability of success. So, many factors are unrelated to genetics and support the counter paradigm that “entrepreneurs are often made, not born”.
Wiklund and Shepherd (2003), put forward that a positive correlation exists between education and business creation. Based on Timmons and Spinelli (2004) and others who are of the opinion that entrepreneurship can be learnt, Kuratko (2003) observes the decision by many tertiary institutions in Nigeria to design and implement relevant entrepreneurship teaching programme. Entrepreneurial training and education encourages Nigerian to become jobs creator rather than job seekers. It also equips them with skills for constant improvement and innovations in their undertaken. (Ogundele, 2004) observes that for the success of National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), Nigeria require a new development approach which will release the best in the nation human capital for the economic development effort. He argued that spiritual capitalism, which will involve among others calling out the best from every Nigerians. It will also involve individual self-development where individuals are the key driver in developing themselves. These will be capped by leadership with vision. One of the major thrusts of NEEDS is, growing the private sector, and this calls for massive training and development of indigenous entrepreneurs in Nigeria, hence the demand for refocusing on training programme more importantly on entrepreneurship he concluded.
A research in 2004 by the European Commission regards education as an important means to create a more entrepreneurial mind-set among young people and they assert that promoting entrepreneurial skills and attitudes provides benefits to society even beyond their application to new business ventures. In fact, there is a widespread idea that entrepreneurship education would generate more and better entrepreneurs than there have been in the past (Ronstadt, 1985) and that education would increase the chances of obtaining entrepreneurial success (Kirby, 2002). Entrepreneurship education encourages the growth of new businesses, exploiting the creative potential and depth of knowledge within higher education sector. De Faoite et al. (2003) found that entrepreneurship education contributes for (i) the integration of a variety of business subjects, (ii) the promotion of improved decision-making skills and (iii) the increase in technology transfer between education establishments and the market place.
Entrepreneurship education is relevant in higher education curriculum once it teaches the fundamental of employment skills and how to start and run a business. Students gain experience in “creating” a business, sometimes in a stimulating environment or in the real market place. Examples of how this can be done include the availability of funds to help finance venture creation projects by students and support networks for entrepreneurial initiatives Paco,( 2010).
However, a study conducted with the aim to test the notion that students who participated in entrepreneurship education course actually produced tangible outcomes. The number of new businesses, increases in sales turnover attributed to learned skills and incidences of career change from course participation, growing venture within an organisation and the strengths and weaknesses of the course as perceived by graduates is reported. At least some 22 new businesses have been started. A total of 300 questionnaires were distributed and 60% response rate recorded from Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. The research was reported and highlighted by Gillen and Powe (1994).
Another study was conducted by Kolvereid and Moen (1997) on the effectiveness of entrepreneurship education on students of Bodo Graduate school of Business, in Norway. A total of 720 questionnaires were distributed in which 51.8% responses were recorded. Their work suggested that exposure to entrepreneurship education is positively associated with new venture formation. The findings suggest that entrepreneurship, at least to some extent, is influence by the level of education and training.
Clark et al., 1984 conducted a study of undergraduates in North-America who have taken entrepreneurship course between 1978 and 1982. Data was collected via mail questionnaire and those who started ventures were interviewed by telephone. In total, 10.2 per cent of graduates started their own businesses subsequent to course completion. The findings of the study revealed that 75 percent of those who started ventures claim the entrepreneurship course had a large or very large impact on their decision TO new venture creation, cited by Shane, (2011).
The results presented above clearly give some justification to the emphasis placed on entrepreneurship education in many universities and business schools. The findings suggest that entrepreneurship, at least to some extent, is a function of factors which can be altered through education.
For many, the power of entrepreneurship and its importance in maintaining a growing and thriving economy, poverty reduction and employment creation is unquestionable. It is seen as the engine driving the economy of most nations, creating new industries, employment and wealth. Fiet, (2000) as cited by (Henry, et, al,. 2003) believes that the sustained interest in entrepreneurship is more than just a fad; rather it reflects an emerging economic environment created by the confluence of changes in the corporate world, new technology and emerging world markets. Policy makers and academics have recognise the very positive impact that new business creation can have on employment levels, poverty reduction, as well as the competitive advantages that small firms can have over large firms.
Entrepreneurship is not just a mere skill acquisition for acquisition sake. It is an acquisition of skills and ideas for the sake of creating employment for one‟s-self and also for others. It also includes new venture development based on creativity. Entrepreneurship leads to the development of small, medium and sometimes large scale businesses based on creativity and innovation. The success of these businesses in turn helps in developing the nation. It also reduces poverty rate with visible increment of employment rate among the youths. However, entrepreneurship requires training.
Entrepreneurial programmes if properly planned and executed will ensure that the issue of self- employment and job creation will increase thereby reducing crime rate especially among the unemployed. Also, menaces and other anti- social behaviours usually visible due to youth unemployment and restiveness will be highly reduced. This reality is one of the greatest challenges facing the leadership of Nigeria.
The entrepreneurship programme is seen as a short term approach to the unemployment crises in order to cater for the out-of-school youth and the ever increasing number of jobless graduates. In the long run it
will bring desired result of growth and development. The entrepreneurship programme in Nigeria seeks to move youth entrepreneurship into the mainstream of the economy with growth oriented and sustainable businesses.
In summary, entrepreneurial firms make two indispensable contributions to Nigeria economy. First, they are an integral part of the renewal process that pervades and defines market economies. Entrepreneurial firms play a crucial role in the innovations that lead to technological change and productivity growth. In short, they are about change and competition because they change market structure. The U.S. economy is a dynamic organic entity always in the process of “becoming,” rather than an established one that has already arrived. It is about prospects for the future, not about the inheritance of the past (Kuratko & Hodgetts, 2004).
Second, entrepreneurial firms are the essential mechanism by which millions enter the economic and social mainstream of American society.
It is against this background that the study seeks to investigate Entrepreneurship education and poverty reduction, its implications in the Nigeria labour market