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JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT VOLUME 7 NO 2, DECEMBER, 2009

EMPOWERING NIGERIAN YOUTHS FOR NATIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: THE ROLE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION

B.E.A. Oghojafor, O.L. Kuye, A.A. Sulaimon, and P.S. Okonji
Department of Business Administration, University of Lagos, Nigeria
Corresponding authors’ email: labikuye@yahoo.com

Abstract
The world over, from USA to Asia, United Kingdom to Africa and Australia to Latin America, entrepreneurship has been promoted as an effective means of stimulating economic growth through the generation of greater employment opportunities, the development of local technological base and source of foreign exchange earnings. The focus of this study is on the mandatory entrepreneurship course for undergraduate youths in the Nigeria's tertiary institutions. The researchers used structured entrepreneur readiness questionnaire to elicit responses from respondent's who were undergraduates. It was hypothesized and found with the aid of test of proportion that entrepreneurship education imparts entrepreneurial skills and attitudes to students as well as favourably disposes them towards establishing own businesses. This will empower them to contribute positively toward the nation’s economic development. The researchers recommended that the government should provide a more conducive environment in the form of quality infrastructural facilities and startup financial support to consummate this initiative of entrepreneurship education.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship; economic development; technological base; financial support


Introduction
The twenty-first century has been tagged the "entrepreneurial age". This is because nations are being shaped by entrepreneurs, men and women who have taken their destinies in their own hands by risking their resources (time, money and energy) in establishing and running their own businesses.
Entrepreneurship development has been taunted as a means of stimulating economic growth through the generation of greater employment opportunities, the development of local technological base and conservation of foreign exchange earnings of national governments (Sule, 1986; World Bank, 1995).

The unacceptable rate of youth unemployment in the country, the low standard of living and the hope of technological transfer which is tending towards a mirage have lead to a renewed interest in entrepreneurship development in Nigeria. Although, several attempts have been made at encouraging entrepreneurial activities in Nigerian in the past, there is no gain saying the fact that these initiatives failed to produce the desired results. Various constraints such as poor implementation, inadequate and inefficient infrastructural facilities and over bearing bureaucracy have been identified as being responsible for this.

The study focused on the mandatory entrepreneurship education programme for undergraduate students of tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The fear that this initiative may fail like others of its kind has necessitated an inquiry into its effectiveness in instilling entrepreneurial consciousness among Nigerian youths. Thus, the purpose of the study is to achieve the following:
 
1.         To determine the strength of entrepreneurship education in imparting the right skills and attitudes to talented and non-talented students alike.
2.         To determine the extent to which students exposed to entrepreneurial education are willing to undertake the establishment of their own enterprises.

Based on the purposes of the study, the following hypotheses are proposed:

Hypothesis:
Ho1:      Entrepreneurship education does not impact entrepreneurial skills and attitudes in students.
Ho2:      Entrepreneurship education does not favourably dispose students towards establishing own businesses.
 

 

Conceptual Issues
The word, entrepreneurship is derived from the French word "entreprendre" meaning to undertake" Thus entrepreneurship is commonly defined as the process of creating a business. In the same vein, an entrepreneur is defined as one that creates a business. As stated by Zimmerer and Scarborough (2006), although the creation of business is certainly an important facet of entrepreneurship, it is not the complete picture. The characteristics of seeking opportunities, taking risks beyond security and having the tenacity to push an idea through to reality combine into special perspectives that permeate entrepreneurs.
To capture the above perspective, several authors have attempted a comprehensive definition of an entrepreneur. According to Meredith, et al (1996) "Entrepreneurs are people who have the ability to see and evaluate business opportunities, to gather the necessary resources to take advantage of them and initiate appropriate action to ensure success". For Kuratko and Hogetts (2001), “Entrepreneur is an innovator or developer who recognizes and seizes opportunities; convert these opportunities into workable/marketable ideas: add value through time, effort, money or skills, assures the risks of the competitive market-place to implement these ideas and realizes the reward from these efforts”.

Bolton and Thompson (2000) listed ten action factors of entrepreneurs:
1.         Entrepreneurs are individuals who make a significant difference Entrepreneurs make things happen by transforming hazy ideas into reality. They refuse to accept the status quo and believe that they can change the facts.

2.         Entrepreneurs are Creative and Innovative

Creativity and innovation are the universal marks of the entrepreneur. Creativity is the thinking process involved in producing an idea or a concept that is new, original, useful and satisfying to its creator or to someone else. While innovation is the process of applying a new and creative idea to a product, service or method of operations, it involves implementing the new idea generated through creativity (Rue & Byers, 2003)

According to Drucker (1983), innovation is the specific function of entrepreneurship. It is the means by which the entrepreneur either creates new wealth producing resources or endows existing resources with enhanced potential for creating wealth. He concluded that "it is difficult to be an entrepreneur without engaging in some innovation"

3.         Entrepreneurs spot and exploit opportunities
Entrepreneurs have "eagle eyes" for spotting opportunities. They discover what others see as nothing or as usual as opportunities. They are able to synthesize the available information and clarify patterns that escape others.

4.         Entrepreneurs find the resources required to exploit opportunities
Entrepreneurs consciously employ resources in a disciplined way to exploit identified opportunities. Often the required resources may not be within the immediate reach of the entrepreneur but she/he will stop at nothing at getting the resources. They are experts at exploiting contacts and sources, begging, stealing and borrowing when necessary (Stevenson 1997).

5.         Entrepreneurs are good net workers
As good net-workers, entrepreneurs know where "to find resources, who to get connected to and "how" to control a business.

6.         Entrepreneurs are determined in the face of adversity
Entrepreneurs have high need for and ability to weather the storms of the business world. The average entrepreneur is an overcomer who can resolve problems under pressure.

7.         Entrepreneurs manage risk
Entrepreneurs take the risk of nurturing a business with little or no chance of

surviving. Without this characteristic, business ideas will never come to limelight. However, it should be emphasized that entrepreneurs should take "calculated" and not "poor" risks.
8.         Entrepreneurs have control of the business
Entrepreneurs are usually in control of their business. They develop key indicators to alert them of danger and try to act accordingly.
9.         Entrepreneurs put customers first
Consciously or unconsciously, entrepreneurs put the customer first. They try as much as possible to make the customer the centre of their business. They are best sales people.

10.       Entrepreneurs create capital
Creativity and innovation, resources acquisition, control of the Business, networking and other action factors help in the creation of financial and social capital by the entrepreneur.

The role of entrepreneurship in national development
Entrepreneurs have led and will continue to lead the economic revolution that has proved repeatedly to improve the standard of living for people everywhere (Zimmerer and Scarborough, 2006), thus:
1.         Economic development      
The profits made by entrepreneurs, payments for the various factors of production by the entrepreneur flow as an increase into the National Income. Increase Gross Domestic Products, National Income etc. help in improving the standard of living of the citizens of the country.

2.       Employment opportunities
Entrepreneurship results in the creation of small businesses. The labour intensive nature of small businesses enables them create more jobs than the big businesses.
3.         Improvement in the standard of living through innovation. The introduction of high quality goods and services has transformed our lives.

4.         Reduction in rural-urban drifts

One of the primary objectives of promoting entrepreneurship in developing countries is to mitigate Rural-Urban drift syndrome. The migration of rural dwellers to cities in search of 'white-collar' jobs has resulted in congestion, high incidence of crimes, etc.

5.         Development of local technological base
The development of indigenous technological base in all countries of the world has been championed by native entrepreneurs; this will help in transferring the much needed technology needed for the rapid transformation of the country,

6.         Conservation of foreign exchanges:
This will result from reduced importation of machineries and equipment, raw materials and payment to foreign experts.

Problems of entrepreneurship development in Nigeria
As stated earlier, government after government has initiated programmes to aid entrepreneurship development in Nigeria. In spite of these attempts at encouraging entrepreneurship development, the underlisted problems are specific to the Nigerian entrepreneurs (Olagunju, 2004):

1.         Lack of trust by Nigerians: This has resulted in the rejection of "made in Nigeria" goods as inferior to the imported ones. The mentality that anything made in Nigeria is inferior has discouraged and forced many local entrepreneurs to go out of business.

2.         The dire shortage and inadequacy of infrastructure facilities: This to my mind is the greatest problem facing the Nigerian entrepreneur. It is no longer news that 48 years after independence, the supply of electricity is epileptic if non-existent, the roads are death-traps leading to loss of lives and properties.

.          
Corruption: Since entrepreneur have to deal with government officials from the Local Government to State Government and the Federal Government. The demand for gratification in forms of bribes, double taxation, etc has brought frustration to many entrepreneurs. According to Morphy (2007), it is hard to do business in many poor countries because governments are so corrupt. It is very difficult in such countries to get permission to build a factory or open a store without a government permit, which is obtained largely through bribery of public officials.

4.         Lack of management know-how resulting in inability to apply appropriate managerial concepts and principles in running the affairs of the business. This is usually manifested in poor financial control, weak marketing effort, failure to develop a strategic plan, uncontrolled growth, improper inventory control. (Chanran and Useani, 2002).

5.         Inability to make entrepreneurial transition: As the business grows from the craft to entrepreneurial stage, informal and unprofessional management will suffice. However, the advent of the professional stage(s) calls for the business to be managed on professional basis. This will see authority delegated, policies formulated and a formal structure of relationship established (Rue and Byers, 2003).
6.         Unguided and unrestricted importation of goods into the country: The advent of globalization with its attendant liberalization and deregulation has forced the Nigerian government to remove restrictions on the importation of goods even when there is a local substitute or competing brand. The unguided implementation of globalization has strangled most businesses. This is because, these businesses use obsolete methods of production, and private sources of power and in the end, their product are inferior and cost higher than the imported ones.

Entrepreneurial education
Despite the critical importance of entrepreneurs in the economic development of a country, less developed nations especially Sub-Sahara African (SSA) countries have not fully developed strategies to take advantage of this resource (Bawuah, Buame and Hinson, 2006). What the- countries have, are haphazard policies, which do not actually reflect the importance of entrepreneurship to the economic development. National programmes have been developed for the purpose of increasing entrepreneurial activity through various reforms, but these have proven abortive. There are several management training programmes that have been developed to strengthen finance, marketing, personnel, and management skills, but these do not constitute entrepreneurship education.

There appears to exist a consensus among scholars that entrepreneurship education and training has a vital role to play in the development of entrepreneurial attitudes, abilities and related skills (Li, Zhang and Matlay, 2003; European Commission, 2002). According to Erkilla (2000), about 93 percent of scholars are of the opinion that entrepreneurial skill can be developed via education and training. Thus, the establishment of entrepreneurial education is seen as a possible measure to promote entrepreneurship (Burger, O'Neil and Mahadea, 2005).

According to Owuala (1999), entrepreneurship education is "a programme or part of the programme that prepares individuals to undertake the formation of and acquisition of small-business". Entrepreneurship Development Programme/Education is a planned, systematic and sustained effort at inculcating and nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit among Nigerians so as to produce a pool of willing, able and successful entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial education is the purposeful intervention by an adult (the teacher) in the life of a learner to impact entrepreneurial qualities and skills to enable the learner to survive in the world of business (Gouws, 2002). It aims at equipping learners with skills, knowledge and dispositions that can help them develop or implement innovative social or business plans (Nnazor, 2005).

According to Bawuah, Buame and Hinson (2006), research evidence from different sources seems to suggest that individuals attending entrepreneurship courses have a higher tendency to start their own business at some point in their career than those attending other courses. In the view of Rae (1997), the skills traditionally taught in business schools are necessary but not sufficient to make a successful entrepreneur. While students need to develop their business skills and understanding, more attention is required for the development of their entrepreneurial skills, attributes and behaviour (Bawuah, Buame and Hinson, 2006). Owualah and Obokoh (2008) posit that there should be a long term strategy that will focus on developing a set of programmes at different stages of the enterprise education drive. Such enterprise education programmes could offer a progression from awareness increase to real activities to develop entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills, culminating in a desire to own and run a business (Owualah and Obokoh, 2008). The results of the study carried out by Thomberry (2003) also revealed that many managers can indeed be trained to act like entrepreneurs and that these actions can result in significant new value creation. This suggests that entrepreneurial training is vital for firms that are rarely satisfied with the status quo, firms that are always looking forward to creating new value.

The expectations of entrepreneurship education
A variety of specific areas of importance that entrepreneurial education must address has been identified. These are:

To increase the awareness and understanding of the process involved in initiating and managing a new venture as well as to enhance learners of small business ownership as serious career option (Henry et al, 2005).

To identify and stimulate entrepreneurial drive, talent and skills; to undo the risk-averse bias of several analytical techniques; and to devise attitudes towards change (Caravan and O'Cinneide, 1994).

According to Jack and Anderson (1999), governments expect entrepreneurial education to contribute to job creation, economic growth, skill enhancement and the development of an entrepreneurial culture; business expects entrepreneurship education to create an understanding of basic business issues, creative work attitude and an entrepreneurial approach among learners; and learners expect entrepreneurship education to assist them in their quest to start their own businesses one day and to develop skills that will enable them find work in large firms as well. Entrepreneurial education is expected to focus on delivering the skills and knowledge imperative for business entry (Gartner, Bird and Starr, 1992). Practicing entrepreneurs expect entrepreneurial education to assist them in solving the unique problems in their businesses (Young, 1992 in Burger, O'Neil and Mahadea, 2005).

Training institutions such as service firms, universities and colleges often expect the offering of entrepreneurship education to provide them with enhanced status and a higher profile with regard to community commitment (Roebuck and Brawley, 1996 in Burger, O'Neil and Mahadea, 2005).

Formal and informal education
According to Hynes, (1996) the process of entrepreneurship education can be quite intricate, requiring a distribution between formal and informal modes of delivery and certain unique approaches. These include an interdisciplinary approach, team work, experience-based learning, activity-based, goal oriented and achievement-oriented approaches, launching of learners' businesses and mentoring.

Formal education
One of the vital issues in the formal educational programme structuring is the formulation of course structures at tertiary educational institutions. The learning methods used in entrepreneurship education and training programmes vary considerably from lectures, presentations and handouts to video and case study based learning, with group discussion and role-plays (Henry et al., 2005).

The recent mandatory entrepreneurship development course for all undergraduates of tertiary institutions in Nigeria is a bold attempt at awakening the entrepreneurship consciousness of the Nigerian youths. The idea is that instead of

thinking of writing applications for non existent jobs, the average Nigerian will be thinking of how to be an employer of labour through the launching and growing of his or her own business enterprise. This effort is in recognition of the failure of existing schemes to fully address the problems of stimulating entrepreneurial consciousness among Nigerian youths.
The goal of the entrepreneurship course is to equip students with entrepreneurial skills needed to own enterprises and sustain them. On the other hand, the general objectives includes, knowledge of the basic concepts and historical perspective of entrepreneurship, knowledge of and ability to prepare a business plan, financing options for the entrepreneur and understanding of management issues in entrepreneurship. [NBTE]

A successful entrepreneurship programme will achieve the following:
i.          It will make the average Nigerian youth discover the entrepreneurial talents in him/her and therefore be guided to take the risk of starting a business
ii.         It will impact the requisite skills and knowledge needed to successfully launch and grow a business
iii.        It will promise information on where and how to get both financial and technical assistance when the need arises.

Methodology
The population of study comprises students of the faculties/ colleges of business in higher institutions in Delta State, Nigeria.

The entrepreneur readiness questionnaire developed and validated by Van Voorhis (1980) was used to elicit response from the students.

The questionnaire was modified to reflect local conditions. To this end, some of the questions were rephrased without losing their meanings.

370 questionnaires were administered to students in the pre-entrepreneurship class in 2007/08 session but 300 questionnaires were returned and useable. A new set of 300 questionnaires were administered to the same students at the end of the entrepreneurship class. The questionnaires were returned and useable. The respondents’, comprising respectively 165 and 135 female and male students, were of average age 19. The set of questionnaires was analyzed using simple percentages while the hypotheses were evaluated through the test of proportions.

Measures
The questionnaire consisted of 25 items describing the character traits of successful entrepreneurs. The responses were measured along a Likert five-point scale of; Agree Completely, Mostly Agree, Partially Agree, Mostly Disagree and Disagree Completely.

Hypotheses and results

Hypothesis one
Ho1:      Entrepreneurship education does not impact entrepreneurial skills and attitudes in students.

The questionnaires were administered to the students before being exposed to the mandatory entrepreneurship class. 15 students or 5% of the sample obtained above average score in the pre exposure test and the post class exposure above average scores was 48 students or 16% of the sample.


Ho1: P = 0.05
Z          =          Pn - Po
adfadfaadfadfa 



                        Po (1 – Po­)
                              n

Pn         =          0.16
Po         =          0.05
n          =          300
adadfad=          0.16-0.05
dfdfadf 



(0.05) (0.95)        =      11
300

Decision Rule: Accept H0 if calculated Z is less than table Z otherwise, reject.

Calculated Z = 11
Table Z            = 2.65 at 0.05 level of significance
Decision: Since Calculated Z (11) is greater than Table Z (2.65), Ho is rejected. Thus entrepreneurial education imparts entrepreneurial skills and attitudes in youths.
Hypothesis two
Ho2:      Entrepreneurship education does not favourably dispose students towards establishing own businesses.

The pre-exposure test score was 10% or 30 students while the post exposure score was 17% or 50 students.  


Ho2: P = 0.10
Z          =          Pn - Po
adadfaadadadfadfa 



                        Po (1 – Po­)
                              n
Pn         =          0.17
Po         =          0.10
n          =          300

dafdfadfZ          =          0.17 – 0.10
fadfadfa 



(0.17) (1.0.10)        Z = 10.69
                        300   

Decision rule: Accept H02 if calculated Z is less than table Z, otherwise, reject.

Calculated Z = 10.69
Decision: Since Calculated   Z (10.69) is greater than Table Z (2.65), Ho is rejected. Therefore, entrepreneurship education favourably predisposes students towards establishing own businesses.

Conclusion and implications for management
Entrepreneurship development is the rave of the moment. Any country left behind in this race will remain perpetually undeveloped. This underscores the recent attention given to entrepreneurship development among undergraduates of tertiary institutions in Nigeria. The belief is that when students are exposed to the concepts, principles and theories of entrepreneurship, their entrepreneurial spirits will be fired to ginger them into thinking of how to create jobs for others instead of being job seekers.

The course will open their eyes to see the latent entrepreneurial talents within them and enable them to spot and exploit business opportunities. Having been armed with the knowledge of the theories, concepts, and principles of entrepreneurship, students develop the confidence that a successful application of these will enable them succeed in business.

There is no argument that the technique of entrepreneurship is a discipline that can be taught or learned. However, the environment plays an important role in putting readiness into action or reality, and hence based on the results of this study the following recommendations are made. There is an urgent need for the government to provide an enabling environment in the forms of efficient and available basic infrastructural facilities, especially electricity. Also venture capital should be provided through micro-finance banks and other specialized agencies to adequately empower young entrepreneurs.

Lastly, the present method of teaching entrepreneurship as a subject should be replaced with teaching entrepreneurship as an activity. As subject, abstract concepts of entrepreneurship are taught to students without practical supplements, while entrepreneurship activity combines teaching with experiential exercises. Gladly the second course in entrepreneurship has a mandatory industrial training programme. This should be extended to the first course.

This study has some important implications for the nation’s tertiary institutions. It encourages tertiary institutions to demonstrate high level of commitment to entrepreneurship education. It also reveals the need for all stakeholders in education to understand the relationship between empowering Nigerian youth for national development and entrepreneurship education. The findings of the study will also provide an empirical basis for supporting the mandatory entrepreneurship education for students in the

tertiary institutions. It will also provide a reference material for those venturing into similar research.

 

References
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