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01.06.2009 Education

African universities partner to provide business training

By The Ghanaian Journal
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By MERCY GAKII
www.nation.co.ke
Three local universities are set to offer training to micro and small to medium enterprise owners in a programme meant to enhance their performance.

Strathmore University, Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) and the United States International University-Africa are working in partnership with the Copenhagen business school and Danish Development Agency (Danida), to provide business owners with essential skills such as book-keeping, marketing and training on personal health that includes life skills.

The curriculum includes courses such as how to write a business plan, business finance and marketing skills. Encouraging growth of smaller businesses with a combination of investments and advisory services is a major pillar of International Financial Corporation (IFC) an arm of the World Bank.

A number of upcoming businesses have failed to perform well and compete favourably at national and international markets due to lack of training opportunities that equip owners with necessary skills. So far, the JKUAT enterprises programme has some of the most successful stories with its curriculum developed in a training format that enables tutoring to be carried out closer to locations of business owners.

The university has been training entrepreneurship students at a much higher level going as far as offering Masters degrees. It has now recommended the course for real entrepreneurs who have no basic skills to effectively run their ventures.

“We noticed a need for information in the local community; so we offered the course for people around Juja,” managing director of the university enterprise Winifred Karugu said.

Make it easy
“Our programmes are tailored to make it easy for learners to understand and apply the knowledge in their work. We teach even in Kiswahili for those who may not be comfortable with English and the response to the course has so far been overwhelming,” said Ms Karugu.

She said that other than the business-oriented courses, the life skills segment has increasingly become popular with business people. “They want to understand how to take care of their personal health, how to avoid stress and when to take a rest,” she said citing the rise in early deaths and ailments that were previously known to afflict only the aged.

The training has so far seen 400 business owners graduate from seven business schools in Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya. IFC which has been partnering with African business schools to fund the project will pioneer full implementation of the programme in Tanzania and Rwanda by the end of this year, borrowing from the Lagos business model.

The successful outcome of the pilot project that was carried out in Nigeria, has encouraged more institutions to take up the training with the University of Dar-Es-Salaam set to launch the course this year. According to Mr Daniel Kanyi, senior operations officer at IFC, 400 business owners from around Kenya are currently undergoing the training.

“The programme lasts three months and is open to all types of business people who have basic literacy skills,” he said. Professor Peter Bankole, director of enterprise development services at the African University of Nigeria said that over 70 per cent of business practices in Africa are in micro and small to medium enterprises, but do not contribute even 10 per cent of the gross domestic product

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