Europe’s business schools target Africa’s entrepreneurs

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European business schools are looking to South Africa. The continent is blessed with entrepreneurial talent, a young population, a rapidly urbanizing economy and an abundance of natural resources. But many African entrepreneurs face barriers that can hold them back, such as limited access to education, funding and mentoring.

Schools in Europe are helping to bridge this gap, offering tailor-made entrepreneurship programs and further expanding their presence in Africa. For example, in October HEC Paris He established a Master’s in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Yamoussoukro, the administrative capital of Ivory Coast in West Africa, in collaboration with the local institute, Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphout-Boigny (INP-HB).

The 18-month program aims to develop new African entrepreneurs through HEC’s “learning by learning” approach, emphasizing practical experiences. One of the first students, Amon Hughes-Michel Amon, is determined to tackle the challenge of the energy transition in West Africa: the transition from fossil fuels to sustainable alternatives.

Amon, 30, from Ivory Coast, plans to create a regulatory body to ensure the quality and safety of solar panel installations. “I intend to use my business education to contribute to the development of my continent, to turn my thoughts into business,” he says. “Reducing dependence on fossil fuels is critical to Africa’s future, and I want to be part of the transition.”

HEC Paris has been present on the continent since 2007. In 2018, the business school expanded its activities, opening a permanent office in Abidjan, the largest city and economic capital of Ivory Coast. It plans to support 1,000 business projects in Africa through entrepreneurship programs over the next five years.

“Africa is the youngest and fastest growing continent in the world,” said Philip Oster, HEC’s director of international affairs. Unfortunately, there is a huge disparity between the number of young people looking for work and the job opportunities available. Therefore, much of Africa’s challenge lies in creating sustainable businesses that generate value and create jobs.

In recent years there has been a growing demand for business education from Africans, with a growing interest in developing entrepreneurship and leadership. Some local business schools, including South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, are meeting this demand. Established local institutions include the University of Lagos Business School and Stellenbosch Business School. But so far, the continent has a limited supply of internationally ranked schools.

FT European Business Schools Ranking 2023

This story is from a ratings report published on December 4.

The gap has not gone unnoticed by international institutions, and European and American business schools, as well as their Chinese counterparts, have entered the African market. Shanghai China Europe International Business School (CIEBS) For example, he established a base in Ghana Duke University Fuqua School of BusinessBased in North Carolina, it offers executive education programs.

Several European institutions offer degree programs, short courses, workshops or mentorships in Africa. For example, German Frankfurt School of Finance and Management It collaborates with the Protestant University of the Congo in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The partnership offers an MBA program for emerging executives in entrepreneurship, including an innovation course where students learn to identify entrepreneurial opportunities in African markets.

“We responded to market demand with these courses, with many students wanting to start their own businesses,” says Amelie Feuerstein, Frankfurt’s Kinshasa MBA program manager. “There are huge opportunities for entrepreneurs in Africa, especially in agribusiness, technology and creative industries.”

INP-HB at the Ivory Coast campus
HEC Paris in partnership with INP-HB in Ivory Coast (pictured) Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship and Innovation

While European business schools provide education, they bring international networks and partnerships that help African entrepreneurs expand their businesses beyond national borders. Brian Gregory, Senior Teaching Fellow at Lancaster University School of Management The United Kingdom helps students at the American University in Cairo, Egypt to establish networks in Europe, recognizing the important role of international connections in entrepreneurial success.

“Young businessmen operating in North Africa often find it difficult to enter Europe. Gibraltar is only 36 miles offshore [separating Europe and Africa]But it’s a big hurdle,” says Gregory.

To continue these efforts, he plans to expand his managed entrepreneurs-in-residence network—consisting of founders who mentor and mentor students—to Ghana, operating a Lancaster University campus and offering an Executive MBA program that includes an entrepreneurship module. .

However, European business schools face challenges in adapting programs to the specific needs and conditions of different African markets, as well as ensuring access and accessibility in a continent with high levels of poverty and economic diversity.

Henley Business SchoolFor example, it offers an Active MBA program from its Johannesburg campus in South Africa. However, British schools have found it more effective to provide entrepreneurship training in smaller forms and at different levels, including short certificate courses for the general public.

Adeyinka Adewale, Associate Professor of Leadership Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Henley Business School
Adeyinka Adewale, Associate Professor of Leadership Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Henley Business School © Getty Images/iStockphoto

Adiyinka Adewale, associate professor of leadership ethics and entrepreneurship at Henley, says European business schools need to avoid a “hunter mentality” and instead understand the local context to address challenges such as access to finance and poor infrastructure.

“There are huge headaches for entrepreneurs in Africa,” says Adewale, “but we believe in the potential of these programs to build the people who build the businesses that contribute to building Africa.”

Henley has trained more than 500 young entrepreneurs in West Africa through various courses, including the Nexus Project in partnership with Lagos Business School and Semicolon Africa, a software training institute in Nigeria. Many European schools collaborate with local business schools, incubators, accelerators and established entrepreneurs. Such partnerships aim to create an ecosystem for exchange of ideas, networking and access to potential investors.

of Spain Iese business schoolFor example, MDE has helped establish local business schools in Africa that offer courses to local entrepreneurs, including the Strathmore University Business School in Abidjan and Nairobi, Kenya. Iese continues to host more than 300 African participants per year in modules at its Madrid and Barcelona campuses through the Africa initiative.

“We have increased our entrepreneurial footprint in Africa,” said Ermias Mebrate Mengestu, director of the ESIS Africa Initiative, emphasizing the potential of businesses to drive economic growth, reduce unemployment and foster innovation. “Africa is the future of population growth, so there is a huge need to help businesses grow and create jobs,” he said.

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