Last week, I attended the Junior World Entrepreneurial Forum Pakistan – Conference 2011
jointly hosted by World Entrepreneurship Forum, France and Lahore School of Economics, Pakistan. The Conference was aimed “to create awareness about the world in 2050 and also to develop thinking and generating ideas through an entrepreneurial mind.”
The World Entrepreneurship Forum (WEF) is a global think tank of entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, experts and politicians, chosen for their entrepreneurial achievements and their commitment to society. Presently, 110 members of 55 countries (including Syed Babar Ali and Iqbal M Khan from Pakistan) are active in the World Entrepreneurship Forum. The think tank is working for a more entrepreneurial world, creating wealth and social justice through four key levers – Creating Innovative and High-Growth Companies to create millions of jobs around the planet. Disseminating Entrepreneurship at the “Base of the Pyramid” to alleviate poverty and create new markets. Shaping Entrepreneurial Cities, being tomorrow’s centers for innovation and Implementing Entrepreneurial Education to disseminate entrepreneurial mindset, skills and competencies throughout society, on a permanent basis.
The Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum (JWEF) – students’ version of the WEF – brings together hundreds of students from different countries for events lasting four days. The objective of the JWEF is to empower the younger generation of students with entrepreneurial skills for the future. Currently they are 10 chapters of the junior league in the world, with Pakistan being one of the countries.
This year Pakistan hosted its inaugural Junior Forum Conference 2011
at Lahore School of Economics (July 27-30, 2011) that was attended by large number of young scholars from UET, LUMS, UCP, Punjab University, FAST, NUST, IM Sciences, and Lahore School of Economics.
There was a lot of meaningful talk and information was presented based on research with relevance to local context. On the sidelines of the Conference 2011, I rounded up some entrepreneurship experts ( from Asad Umar (Engro), Khalid Mansoor (Engro), Moonis Rehman (Rozee.com), Saleem M. Rafik (Nadra), Shehla Akram (WCCI), Arif Masud Mirza (ACCA), Kamil Khan Mumtaz (Architect), Amjad Saqib (Akhuwat), Hassan Sohaib Murad (UMT), Zubyr Soomro (Ex-CEO Citi Bank), Salim Shauri (NetSol), Saquib Mohyuddin (BSF), Nayyar Ali Dada, Ambareen Waheed, and Iqbal M. Khan) and culled their insights on the lack of entrepreneurship education in Pakistan. All said that entrepreneurship education is the only way to prepare for year 2050 and beyond.
Entrepreneurship is a set of skills and attitudes, ranging from the ability to think in multidimensional ways to the ability of making out new opportunities and putting ideas into practice that results in high growth rates, new chances and more benefits to all segments of society including the poor. It requires an application of energy and passion towards the creation and implementation of new ideas and creative solutions. Essential factors include the willingness to take calculated risks in terms of time, equity and career; the ability to formulate an effective venture team; the creative skills to organize needed resources, and fundamental skills of building solid business plan and finally the vision to recognize opportunity where others see chaos, contradiction, and confusion. It is more than the mere creation of business. But can these traits be taught in the class?
In the past two decades, there has been debates over question like is business enterprise in your genes or can it be taught in the business schools? Many argued that success depends on temperament. Some said entrepreneurship is about having acumen that business schools cannot teach. Some other said the passion for business is not something you can learn in a classroom.
Notwithstanding myths, “this issue has been settled now and everyone believes that entrepreneurship education is a must,” says Senor Entrepreneurship Fellow Iqbal M Khan. A research study says, “five years after graduation, the average annual income for entrepreneurship majors and MBAs who concentrated in entrepreneurship at the school was almost 27 percent higher than for other business majors and students with standard MBAs. Moreover, entrepreneurship graduates were three times more likely to form new companies. Even those entrepreneurship graduates who took jobs within large companies earned bigger paychecks.” Another research on the subject shows that “the more entrepreneurial classes taught at the MBA level, the more likely students are to become entrepreneurs.”
In Pakistan, many business schools (including Lahore School, LUMS, GC University and IBA) are already teaching entrepreneurship. Need is that entrepreneurship education is brought into mainstream. Business schools can best provide platforms for entrepreneurial activities; a strong focus on entrepreneurship education will certainly spill over to non-business students and help promote an entrepreneurial spirit. Viewing business schools as mediators of skills, entrepreneurship students pursuing an entrepreneurial career are equipped with a set of skills that will help them identify new business ideas and provide them with a practical approach to entrepreneurship. “By putting students in an environment of entrepreneurialism, you can encourage them to try becoming an entrepreneur,” says Professor Iqbal M Khan.
Entrepreneurship education can inculcate willingness to take calculated risks in terms of time, equity and career; the ability to formulate an effective venture team; the creative skills to organize needed resources, and fundamental skills of building solid business plan and finally the vision to recognize opportunity. The students can develop entrepreneurial perspective that they can exhibit in their careers.
Traditionally, entrepreneurship perspective has always flourished in Pakistan despite the intrusive role of governments in the marketplace, political instability, and continuing wave of terrorism, lack of infrastructure and more so lack of academic and research support. Entrepreneurship cities of Sialkot, Gujranwala and Gujrat are very good examples to cite. Effective entrepreneurship education can take this already present spirit to next level.
Pakistan requires a dynamic approach towards entrepreneurial education, to ensure socio-economic growth. If Pakistan (also other courtiers) has to meet the challenges set by the WEF, entrepreneurship education must be given more importance. The need of the hour is to adopt and utilize entrepreneurship in current education system and bring it into the mainstream. Only then, we can hope to see entrepreneurial spirit, which would grow individual entrepreneurs at all levels by year 2050 and beyond.