Leading universities and the non-mainstream ones, too, have campuses dedicated to entrepreneurship education, which is seen as the answer to economic slowdown and joblessness.
By Gayatri Dwivedi
Over the last two decades, entrepreneurial education has gone through a sea change. What used to be one of the many electives, has become a core university offering. Leading universities and the non-mainstream ones, too, have campuses dedicated to entrepreneurship education, which is seen as the answer to economic slowdown and joblessness.
From a supposedly non-account elective whose potential was little known to most, it has sublimated into a ubiquitous thought process and attitude that defies all demarcations. It can be equally fruitful to fine arts students as it is to engineering graduates. Students have been seen assertively harnessing their academically/technologically diverse strengths to shape their ideas into meaningful ventures. Ironically, sometimes, being academically weak becomes a plus in the context. And they don’t shy away from modest beginnings. Rather, they put everything on the line. Sounds pragmatic.
Universities have become more experiential and outward facing. The capstone of entrepreneurial curricula has become a routine part of classes, as business plans, VC plans, pitches, financial statements get complemented with more dynamic companions. Today, the focus is on creating a viable, sustainable, replicable business model. Educators would take the process through the filters of incubators, feasibility tests, prototyping and then the controlled market launch, before really putting the pedal to the metal.
Another change is universities would not only create the overarching support system for incubating business ideas, but would also play catalysts to morph the idea into a venture. They would bring in investors, policymakers and the industry to help the cause. Very outward facing.
When I interact with students, my first conversation usually is to uncover their roadmap. Mostly, very few have given entrepreneurship a thought. Many think since they are on a different disciplinary trajectory, entrepreneurship has no relevance to them. In such cases, the aim is to make them appreciate entrepreneurship.
A segment feels it works only for certain domains. But we have to drive home the point it can be an enabler and a multiplier force to a broad spectrum of domains; in fact, to all. I don’t see a single field where entrepreneurship doesn’t have application. Speaking of the hurdles, the attitude ‘it is not for me’ and ‘resource-crunch perceived or real’ are the biggest dampeners. The answer lies in a super-motivated and system-supported faculty with right compasses in their heads and steel in their heart. Another thing to be mindful of is that when you enter a class of, say, 50 students, it is not that you would convert all 50 into business-owners.
If you can just embed the idea of having their own ventures in place of job seeking, that itself is worthy a gain. Later, you can build up on the same. But it needs hand-holding and mentoring till the venture has legs of its own.
The author is associate director, Communication, and faculty, Entrepreneurship, Desh Bhagat University, Punjab