Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 1st 2014 Contents There is a new trend in entre-
preneurship and it is the teach-
ing of entrepreneurship.
In the old paradigm, you go out and learn
the ropes in venture creation on your own. It
required that you enroll in the "school of hard
knocks." The assessments were difficult to
pass and the failure rate was high.
According to the US Census Bureau, about
50 per cent of new business started in 2005
failed in 2010. While in T&T we do not keep
books on this critical measure of business start
up, we can assume that it is probably as high
as in the US.
The average entrepreneur started his or her
venture in either a garage, basement or at
school. It was trial and error and many did
not have a formal business education or any
formal education for that matter. Today, there
are a number of business courses and even in
ones in entrepreneurship.
According to the Kauffman Foundation (a
private US philanthropic organisation that is
devoted to entrepreneurship and education
development), the growth of entrepreneurial
education is nothing short of stellar.
Here in T&T, CXC has added entrepreneur-
ship as a subject in CAPE. This comes on the
heels of similar moves at UWI, UTT and
Costaatt. UWI s Arthur Lok Jack Graduate
School of Business offers an international
MBA, masters in small and medium sized
enterprises management degree and an inter-
national masters in business development and
innovation, all with a strong focus on entre-
UTT requires many of its degree students
to complete a course in entrepreneurship and
so does Costaatt. The latter, however, has the
only local bachelors in management and entre-
So why is entrepreneurship training in
Entrepreneurship is hot
While big businesses dominate the news,
it is the small- and medium-sized sector that
really drives the economy. Who creates the
most jobs? Carl Schramn, former head of
Kauffman Foundation, says that large business
in the US has not created new jobs in the past
It s the SME sector that does it and politi-
cians like this (entrepreneurship) as an eco-
nomic development tool. But since start ups
fail at a high rate, it can t be just any small
enterprise that are job generators. It has to be
the ones that become the future Google, Face-
book and Zappos. They are the gazelles and
they make a huge difference.
We are of the belief that entrepreneurship
reduces poverty. Immense spending on social
programmes is unsustainable and not the path
to increase living standards. The political rea-
soning is: give the average man a chance and
he will break out of poverty. This is the idea
behind Nedco and government loans and grants
programmes. The Government also extends
its entrepreneurship reach by investing in large
business incubator programmes. This seeks
to support potential entrepreneurs in a struc-
tured way by providing seed capital, training
The launch of the entrepreneurship course
at CAPE is an attempt to ride this wave.
Officials at CXC say this course is designed
to empower and equip students in the art of
entrepreneurial thinking and hopefully go on
to start their own businesses. They also point
to the high unemployment and lack of inno-
vation and diversification in Caribbean
The course structure covers important areas:
the entrepreneurial mindset (how could you
start a business without this), idea generation
and opportunity assessment, risk identification,
new venture start up and harvesting. The
school-based assessment (SBA) criteria includes
an interview with an entrepreneur and to
develop a case study. Students must also devel-
op an idea into a viable business model.
There are three main concerns about teach-
ing entrepreneurship, particularly as a CAPE
Teaching entrepreneurship is quite tricky.
Academics say theory and practice are the
same. In my opinion, this is not the case. Also,
the educator must be a generalist, an academic
and a practitioner. Many hats!
1. Entrepreneurship and small business man-
agement require the teacher to have a diverse
knowledge. Small business management
requires an understanding of finance, man-
agement, HR, marketing, economics, account-
ing and finance, among other areas. In addition,
the teacher has to have a wide knowledge of
In a class of 20 students, one could expect
they would have ideas to start a business: in
retail, wholesale, e-commerce, construction,
baking, printing, etc. This would require a
teacher who must be a generalist to be able
to understand and be able to assist the student
in their SBA.
2. The resources available for the teaching
are foreign, particularly, the books and Web
While the information is quite informative,
the cultural context is quite foreign. Local
entrepreneurs may want to read more about
the entrepreneurs behind Sandals and Movi-
eTowne, not just Bill Gates and Michael Dell.
3. Teaching by doing is highly effective but
it would require that the teachers be entre-
preneurs themselves. Approach the subject
from an academic point of view only may be
a challenge. If you are a duck, teaching swim-
ming would be easy.
Professors Neck and Green of Babson College
in the US, view teaching entrepreneurship not
as a process since entrepreneurship is unpre-
dictable and not linear. Ask any entrepreneur
how many times he/she has failed and changed
course and you get the point. The professors
view it as a method; it involves acting and
applying. It is like teaching someone to ride
a bike, it is about practice.
Can you learn to fly a plane in a classroom?
The professors advocate games, stimulations
and reflective practice to get across the mes-
While we need to start early in planting the
entrepreneurial seeds, there is another issue
of the career options after CAPE. Student can
start a business, others may not. Some will
go on to read for a degree in business.
What will become of all that work at CAPE?
CXC folks should monitor the programme
and see what can be done to expand entre-
preneurial activities so the next potential
Caribbean Bill Gates would not end up as a
university graduate without a business.
Sajjad Hamid is an SME consultant,
Entrepreneur Central. His contacts:
SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JUNE 1 • 2014
The rising tide of
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