The question is as old as entrepreneurship itself but the World Bank took on the challenge of answering it last year by reviewing a staggering 230 programmes across the globe before coming to their conclusion. The good news is that the answer is a qualified yes. Along their research journey they also confirmed some useful categorisations as well as discovering a number of useful considerations for those involved in the challenge of unlocking the full potential of entrepreneurship for changing the future. The following five observations were particularly helpful:
A definition of an entrepreneur that captures both the essence and the diversity of the practice: “An individual who recognises opportunities with the purposes of creating value and wealth, whether through formal or informal economic activity”
A clear understanding of the four different potential outcomes of entrepreneurship programmes:
2.1. Mindsets – thinking like an entrepreneur
2.2. Capabilities – having entrepreneurial skills
2.3. Status – actually starting a business
2.4. Performance – running a growing business
3. Programme Classification
There is a difference between Entrepreneurship Education (focussing on mindsets and capabilities) targeted at secondary and higher education students as opposed to Entrepreneurship Training (focussing on status and performance) targeted at potential and practising entrepreneurs. This is very much aligned to the Foundation’s thinking where the focus at the Scholarship and Fellowship stages is Entrepreneurship Education, while at the Association stage it is Entrepreneurship Training.
The early bird catches the worm. Outcomes related to mindsets and capabilities are far more commonly attained than those related to status or performance. This reminds us that entrepreneurship skills are useful even if you don’t become an entrepreneur. As they say “creativity is an asset.”
The potential of entrepreneurship will not be realised without proper measurement of interventions and the World Bank called for improving the measurement of entrepreneurship initiatives as only 60 out of the 230 programmes (26%) had proper impact evaluations.
The full, nearly 300 page, World Bank Report can be found here. Alternatively, Alicia Robb, a co-author of the report and fellow Global Entrepreneurship Research Network participant was kind enough to share with us the summary infographic below at the recent Global Entrepreneurship Congress. We maintain that entrepreneurship can be taught. Do you agree?