In sub-Saharan Africa, university education continues to be seen as the only basis for guaranteed professional work life. Yet, despite this, currently, more than half of 420 million young people in Africa are unemployed (African Development Bank, 2018). Universities play an essential role in creating new knowledge and innovations and play an essential role in training the next generation of leaders, engineers, and scientists.
The problem, however, is that entrepreneurship is not yet fully integrated into the activities of Universities across Africa, with most universities having no entrepreneurship capabilities or curriculum and a few having limited entrepreneurship training and support for students and staff. Nevertheless, universities can serve as capacity-building centres through research, innovation, and data collection and analysis.
DIFFERENTIATE is a place-based approach to designing and developing entrepreneurial capacity building across African research institutions. The project is an alliance between the University of Benin, Lancaster University, the Africa Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS), and Kenyatta University to make entrepreneurship work “the Ghanaian way”. The collaboration will achieve this through an exchange mentorship programme between SSA and UK universities.
The project will work towards developing an entrepreneurial mindset and skills development amongst academics, scientists, and graduates to both create jobs and build people that are job creators, not job seekers.
More specifically, the project will:
- Develop an approach to capacity building and entrepreneurial eco-system development that is tailored to local contexts.
- Move towards solution-driven impact based on entrepreneurial thinking.
- Create stronger relationships between HE institutions, industry, and key local stakeholders for engaged research and teaching.
- Develop an entrepreneurship curriculum that serves local, regional, national, and international needs and strives toward more comprehensive economic development.
Additionally, the project seeks to address the problem of diversity and social inclusion. African women are disproportionately disadvantaged in financial access, digital access, and further education, which are essential for increased entrepreneurship success and employability. It is against this backdrop we are partnering with Kenyatta University and its pan-African organisation, the African Women in Science and Engineering, to support the gender mainstreaming and consideration of our topic of investigation.