Educated Entrepreneurship: The Pain Reliever to Nigeria’s Economic Headache

Source: Sell and Succeed

Education here is not restricted to “education” in conventional terms: going to school or getting a degree, rather any kind of education that fosters self and community development- the ability to seek and utilize [keyword: utilize] knowledge through every ethical means.

Education is not limited to the four-walls of any school. It is simply a process of acquiring relevant and useful knowledge be it under a mango tree or in the massive Amphitheatre in Obafemi Awolowo University (O.A.U.) in Nigeria.

Yes you have a degree but are you educated though?

You can’t claim to be educated until you can truly add or create meaningful value with what you know. A lot of people went to school but cannot create or give meaningful value with what they learnt and that’s our problem!

Most of the population in Nigeria are poorly educated. Many of those who own surviving businesses have little knowledge on how to invest to grow the business. They have no strategies to help the business grow or succeed. They stay stuck doing the same thing and getting the same results if not worse, year after year:

That tailor you’ve known since childhood, still running the same shop the same way with very little improvement to show while the little boy of those days is now a successful tailor thanks to his education that has exposed him to the new way of marketing via social media and also new trends and methods of fashion design and sewing via Youtube videos and so on; that printer in your area still giving the same quality of prints with little or no improvements over the years- different employees, same grumpy/sloppy attitude to work.

The impact of education on our economy:

Our large population is only an advantage when majority are well educated. Whether formal or informal, knowledge is knowledge! If we need to get people under mango trees and educate them then let’s get going with that.

Poor education means that people cannot appreciate or value the development and technology that the global world is blessed with today. Therefore, they do not see the need for it and as a result they cannot strive to achieve it. Being educated means we can truly value and strive for the advancement in technology and economic development characteristic of the developed world.

Without education (formal or informal) people are uninspired, they do not have the knowledge that can ginger them to take meaningful action. Real education inspires. It inspires you to seek ways to create/ add value, to be of great contribution to the development of yourself and your society.

According to English Philosopher Ken Robinson, we learn to be innovative and entrepreneurial by exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesizing information. Education gives you the ability to achieve all that.

Real Education changes your mentality; it expands and deepens your imagination. It makes you hunger for more adventure and new ways to explore the knowledge gained. Real education gives you an attitude, an attitude that is intolerant of mediocrity that sadly, has dominated our society.

Real Education means we have more highly skilled labor force which is key to the economic development of any nation.

One of the factors that spurred the growth of the American economy is the enlightened or educated state of the majority. Innovations and inventions could be tested and utilized by the American market. America has one of the best markets for testing new developments because producers can get meaningful feedback from the ever curious market that can be used to develop their products and services. The American market demands excellence and is quick to condemn mediocrity. This makes the producers challenged and inspired to give more and improve continuously.

Imagine a situation where a Nigerian entrepreneur has labored so hard to advance his field of business but sadly the market is not even enlightened enough and thus ready to appreciate his/her efforts. The entrepreneur has little option but to scale down his/ her strategies to fit the market and that slows down our progress! Still, educated entrepreneurs have a huge role to play in the development of our mentality or thinking. No one ever imagined the possibilities that abound in the mobile world until the smart phones came around. This simply tells us that some of the greatest influencers of social and economic change, growth and development are the entrepreneurs.

We think we need to have a lot of money to make an impact, to make something out of our lives but really the real test for success is making something out of nothing; achieving abundance out of scarcity. From that little drop of water an ocean becomes. However without relevant knowledge i.e. education, all the money or resources in the world would never be enough to make meaningful impact.

Educated Entrepreneurship?

I was reading about Adam Smith’s theory of wealth creation when I got the inspiration to write this article. Adam Smith was a Scottish Economist whose works have been very influential in the development of the global economy we have today and is renowned as the father of modern economics. In one of his works he introduced a concept, “The invisible Hand” which in summary, says:

Businesspeople work primarily for their own prosperity and growth. Yet as they try to improve their own situation in life, their efforts serve as an “invisible hand” that helps the economy grow and prosper through the production of needed goods, services and ideas.

Thus the invisible hand turns self-directed gain into social and economic benefits for all.

[Source: Understanding Business- McGraw-Hill/Irwin Publishers, 7th ed., pg. 39]

This simply depicts the great impact that entrepreneurship can have on our economy however entrepreneurship will hardly be impactful if it isn’t being fueled by knowledge- education, continuous education.

Educated Entrepreneurship means seeking and applying updated knowledge continuously as regards all facets of building and running a successful business. An entrepreneur or business owner should be a lifelong learner and should never get to a point where they become “all knowing” just because they have been in business for donkey years.

Unfortunately many business owners today have buried their business in obsolete methodologies and strategies. They remain unenlightened while those with some exposure kill their business with the stubborn “I-have-been-in-this-business-for-donkey-years” attitude that holds them back from greatness.

No, you do not need an MBA to run a successful business but you do need to have a good command of key business, finance or marketing knowledge and strategies, you need to have updated knowledge about what is really happening locally and internationally in your chosen field. This will inspire you to strive for more and better achievements.

Educated entrepreneurship means you know your rights as an entrepreneur, your responsibilities and obligations, you know the value of what you are doing to the Nigerian economy and as such, will not be easily frustrated  or deterred  by the seemingly overwhelming challenges that abound.

Everyone is clamoring for agriculture but without the needed education, these farmers will fail to make the most of what they have. Farmers have to stay learning so that they can help to drive a revolution in the way farming is being done. If we keep using the same old tools and old knowledge without strategic efforts to improve on them, we’ll hardly get meaningful results

So here’s the Challenge:

  • How can we get our largely uneducated population to first and foremost develop interest in proper education needed to build and develop their business?
  •  What will be the most effective methods or channels for making this happen?
  • Who will be involved in this? Business consultants? NGOs? Corporate individuals? The public sector?

We need to spread the message across. We need to help this population achieve education. Without education, our people would continue to rely on donations from NGOs which would be hardly sufficient to keep them out of poverty!

Let’s stop limiting education to schools and colleges. How can we get our largely uneducated population to start right from where they are, to acquire the education they need in their various fields of labor which can be subsequently improved upon so that we can upgrade our GDP and individual standard of living?

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Teach a person to start a fish farm and he/she will be able to feed a village for a lifetime.”

Source: Understanding Business (McGraw-Hill/Irwin Publishers, 7th ed., pg. 38)

Until our entrepreneurs and business owners begin to seek and apply knowledge obtained by education in their respective endeavors, all we’ll continue to have will be roadside shop and kiosk owners who struggle to feed their family and yet stick the entrepreneur title on their hats.


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