How can business education make a difference in people's lives and livelihoods?

Employment has always been a central issue in development. In recent years we saw a global financial crisis that affected many countries, causing a massive economic recession and a major loss of jobs. Despite some initial employment gains in the post-crisis years, we have seen a rise in unemployment over the past year. Many developing countries have a large population of youth unable to find jobs after earning a degree.

The poor quality of educational services is creating a workforce that lacks the basic knowledge and skills needed for today’s job. Education systems in the developing world are burdened with collapsing infrastructure, outdated content and poorly trained teachers.

To change this situation and maximise the benefits of education, while increasing the employability of graduates, collaboration is needed between governments, the private sector and educational institutions. Such collaboration could support the readiness of workers by associating the supply and demand of skilled graduates, while ensuring the system functions in a favourable policy environment.

The Global Business Schools Network recently produced a paper (available here) to spur discussion about how the global community can address the challenges of increasing employment and entrepreneurship around the world.

We welcome your thoughts and feedback on the following questions. Please post your comments below, and join us for a live discussion at 3.30 UK time (10.30 ET) on Thursday 19 September.

1. How can business education make a difference in increasing entrepreneurship and employment?

2. What are the on-the-ground needs of entrepreneurs in emerging markets, and what the specific challenges in providing relevant training for women entrepreneurs?

3. How can technology, such as se of mobile phones and online education technology, be used to bring more training and networking opportunities to more people around the globe?

Editor's Note:

To post comments you will need to sign in / sign up to Business Fights Poverty. A list of recent comments is shown in the right-hand side bar and will refresh every 5 minutes. To refresh more often, please click on the refresh icon in your browser.

Several reports point out, that access to business information is important. In the UNDP report “Unleashing Entrepreneurship”, addressed to the Secretary General it says on page 14:” … the lack of skills affects the ability of entrepreneurs to scale up a business”.

The same report states that one of the pillars of entrepreneurship is “Access to Skill and Knowledge”

Free Business Plan Education Material

This report was the reason why I have created a knowledge web site that explains how to create a business plan. Here you find:

  • 75 online business plan answers
  • a business plan template,
  • budget templates
  • 120 pages book: The Dynamic Business Plan.

All the information you need in order to create a new business.

Entrepreneurship lectures can get the material for free at

Considering the three points about education and taking the case of Madagascar and the crise in education since 1972 and now ,my opinion is the importance of a real private public partnesrship for the reality of the country and most of all in the primary school . After primary school ,then to give the private sector more liberty . The probleme I think is that the private sector wants to have more liberty in primary school were to make money is easier ;but in fact this liberty is the ability to receive grants from donors . At this point the question is no more aid or trade but the importance of education in this connected world .There is this" famous words ,if you dislike education try non-education" ,and this is the point I think instead of trying education we are trying non education .

Welcome to this discussion! We're really looking forward to hearing from our panel and Business Fights Poverty members.

Can I start by asking everyone to share their perspectives on how business education can make a difference in increasing entrepreneurship and employment.

So glad to be here! Education can provide necessary market skills when it is of quality, accessible and relevant. Looking forward to a conversation about the needs of entrepreneurs for training and how we can use technology and global focus on this issue to make an impact on people's lives.

I think it is absolutely critical for expanding current businesses and starting new ones. My question for the panel is, for those who need it the most, how can we make it more accessible?

A major issue is that many educational systems do not foster inventive thinking, communication skills, problem solving or other competencies that can help people do well in their jobs. In order to maximize the benefits of education while increasing the employability of graduate, governments, private sector and educational institutions need to collaborate.

The business education can make a difference:

The Education being tailor made to the specific needs of the entrepeneurs for example the basics of the accounting principles and book keeping for the big number of youth in africa who didnot have a chance to reach school but are supplementing the economy.

The Education ought to be more practical and use of objects in the training where one will not quickly forget.

One main reason behind the high employment number is the skill mismatch. A lot of what we are learning in secondary and tertiary education is not applicable to the skills demanded by employers or to start businesses. I think business education, done right, can be a solution to that gap.

Moses, you make a great point that education needs to be relevant, practical and accessible. Perhaps Miebi can share some of her insights from working with entrepreneurs on the ground to address their skills gaps.

Can anyone share some reflections on what the on-the-ground needs of entrepreneurs are in emerging markets, and what the specific challenges are in providing relevant training for women entrepreneurs?

I think that technology has opened many doors for providing entrepreneurship skills. Mobile and online programs can reduce costs and provide access for those who can't travel to traditional classrooms. It can also provide opportunities to connect entrepreneurs with one another for support, networking and mentorship. I'd be curious to hear from Evanna about her thoughts on using fast-changing technology to get quality, relevant education out to people who need it.

Yes , business education make significant difference in increasing entrepreneurship and employment, however this should be embedded with the actual practical life , like connecting students with the SMEs, companies and vocational skills with in their curiosity would help

From working in the Middle East and Africa, I can definitely say that the number one need is access to capital and having high standards in terms of quality ideas. Regardless if one is a micro-entrepreneur running a fruit stand kiosk or a tech entrepreneur specializing in apps, what entrepreneurs need is access to capital. Investors, angels, and institutions in emerging markets are very wary of risks and typically do not want to invest in companies with high risks. This rules out them majority of early stage or seed stage companies. Or if a loan or investment is received, the interest rates are very high and the terms are unfavorable to the entrepreneur. It then becomes a chicken and egg problem. Entrepreneurs need to prove their concept to get investment but in order to prove their concept, they need capital. Another need is mentoring.

Our research found that women need access to educational opportunities to improve their financial literacy and other business skills, but that education needs to take into account the work that women often have to do for their families and homes in addition to their businesses. They also need a social network that can help them connect with their peers for emotional and technical support.

So happy to be here! I would like to come from the aspect of understanding business from the management perspective; Business education teaches people how to be better managers, which improves their businesses and their lives in general. A successfully managed business increases growth which attracts a large customer base and in the long run increases employment

Business education generates ideas on how to be self employed, there by increasing entrepreneurship

Evanna, do you think that access to capital is hindered at all by the perception that women are less credit-worthy as entrepreneurs, especially in those areas of the world?

To add onto that, women entrepreneurs tend to need more flexibility in terms of working time and schedules, especially those in emerging markets, where they are still the sole caretakers of the family. This is where technology, such as the mobile phone, can be vital. Tech allows them to be trained and to do work in the comfort of their own homes and is less disruptive than having to be physically present.

I think that's definitely changing. With a lot of microfinance institutions and private sector players putting an emphasis on women empowerment, people are giving women more chances. In Kenya, I've actually heard complaints from men that because of the emphasis on women, it is harder for them to get loans as the standards for them are higher than those for women.

I completely agree. In fact, a very successful entrepreneurship training center in Nigeria considers the training they provide as the "appetizer" to prepare their students for the "main course" of mentorship and peer networking groups. They use these types of services to help entrepreneurs translate their training into action.