Who is an entrepreneur? Should we teach entrepreneurship? An entrepreneur shifts economic resources out of an area of lower into an area of higher productivity and greater yield. The entrepreneur manipulates resources for higher productivity, significant yield and greater achievement! His greatest ambition is to bring value to consumers and the society. The entrepreneur is someone who sees change as normal and healthy.
The entrepreneur does not merely bring about change, rather he searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity. More importantly, he senses opportunity where others fear rejection, he does not talk about obstacles but challenges, and his mind-set is tuned to success for failure, though a distant reality, does not preoccupy him.
Meaning of Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is the ability to discern change, enjoy change and improvise without being forewarned. It is about improvisation, fearlessness and risk taking. Lets get this clear. The numerous street corner shops, off-licenses, petty traders, farms and gardens that are owned by most Cameroonians with the ultimate goal of survival or killing idleness, are not entrepreneurial concerns! In these activities there is the absence of real ambition to grow, there is no business plan to improve productivity and yield, no significant effort is put in creating value or uniqueness. Nonchalance, thoughtlessness and ignorance characterize these business undertakings! It is these small holdings that are thoughtlessly managed solely for survival and killing idleness that permeates Cameroon, and has brought shame and disgrace to those attempting to launch into the private sector.
Entrepreneurship is beyond mere survival and killing idleness. It is all about being pregnant with vision, determination, foresight, willpower, persistence, reliance, ambition, and the need to grow endlessly. There is no shame in entrepreneurship. The only route to amass vast amount of wealth, rising from rags to riches, from scratch to fame is through entrepreneurship. Millionaires are not made through the civil service, ceteris paribus! You only become a millionaire in civil service through looting, stealing, pilfering and bribery. If it were possible to make millions through the civil service, then the millions of public servants in rich nations such as Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Japan, Canada, England and USA would have all been millionaires. Rather, they are middle-income earners, barely scrapping a living with the aid of credit cards, mortgage and hire-purchase. Private sector exploiters have marshalled resources to become millionaires and drive these nations forward.
Entrepreneurship in Cameroon’s School Curriculum
We need proactive policy to develop an indigenous entrepreneurial class. Entrepreneurship is not an-inborn characteristic or a personality trait. It is not! It is a discipline, a way of behaviour, which can be studied and practiced. It is a mix of theory, concept, intuition, discipline, science, art, experience, trial and error. It can be taught.
Entrepreneurship ought to be part of the new school curriculum in Cameroon. While entrepreneurship is inherently a product of the market place and not of academia, however, it can be taught. It should be taught to all Cameroonians. Why? This is inline with the same reason that we would like to teach our children to swim. We do not expect everyone who learns how to swim to earn Olympic gold; not everyone has that kind of talent or dedication.
We teach our children how to swim because everyone will benefit from knowing how to stay afloat. Only some will take it further – as a source of income or part of their lifestyle, or the route to fame and fortune. For the same reason, we should teach everybody entrepreneurship. Everyone will benefit at different levels, for the following reasons:
- learning careful allocation and rigorous recording of resources is good for the household as well as the business budget;
- understanding how business succeed and why they fail is important for future employees, environmentalists, politicians and bureaucrats as well as from potential business proprietors;
- analyzing profits and where they come from develops alert consumers as well as astute suppliers and producers; and
- seeing work opportunities in terms of markets - and finding out how to research needs and how to meet them – is as helpful for the first time job seeker as well for the potential managing Director.
Cameroon Needs Informed Citizens on Virtues of Entrepreneurship
But why should we teach entrepreneurship to achieve this and not just business economics and accounting? The central entrepreneurial concept, which is crucial for economic learning, is the idea of recognizing and combining resources in order to add value. In a country where resources are precious, learning to recognize and use unusual resources matters for everyone. Rural doctors do this when they keep premature babies warm in pouches against their mother’s bodies instead of using scarce and expensive incubators. And the prolonged maternal contact adds value too.
Value is measured in different ways. Whether you are managing a hospital, directing a Cinema Hall or running a Beer parlour, you need to understand what the value is in your undertaking, how value can be added and, most important, how value can be destroyed. This insight can be taught.
Even if we decide to limit our definition of entrepreneurship to a set of economic behaviours, this behaviour happen in a social context. It helps entrepreneurs if the people around them understand and approve of what they are trying to do, even if they are not themselves entrepreneurs.
Members of an enterprise friendly community will offer support and encouragement for entrepreneurial undertakings. They will neither distract nor exhort the aspirant entrepreneur rather to consider a safe career in the civil service. They will not recommend that the enterprise be abandoned at the first setback. They will assume the brightest and best in the community will become entrepreneurs, and not see self-employment as the booby prize.