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

Miebi - can you give some concrete examples from your time in Ghana of what women identified as priorities for supporting their journey as entrepreneurs?

For people in developing countries, with not so much technology to make things easy, we have find out ways that are best for them- through focus groups, questionnaires, assessments

with my experience in Ghana, I organized focus groups to find out what way was best for them; these meetings were very insightful and it set the pace for the training sessions.

I think one of the great opportunities that technology opens up is the scope for South-South mentoring and support - where say a Brazilian entrepreneur shares their practical experience with an entrepreneur in Zambia, or vice versa, and so supplementing any formal business education. Have you seen any interesting examples of this?

Evanna - that's an important point - something I heard from business in the context of the Global Business Coalition for Education and the Global Partnership for Education. This seems to be linked closely to the importance of placing greater emphasis on learning outcomes - particularly around preparing people for the modern economy. Do you see policy makers taking this point on board?

One finding in our report was that technology is changing the linear nature of education, which traditionally predicated a job or starting an enterprise. Technology allows people to get specific information to address current needs, giving them the ability to get skills training while working or running their businesses. I wonder how you see this shift in how education is delivered and timed in a person's life?

From our experience, we've seen some phenomenal results from mobile education. On average, people who are trained or educated via the mobile phones retain the knowledge longer than people who learn them in an in person setting. We don't try to say that all content is fit for the mobile format. We are not. Chemistry equations would be very hard to display and teach via mobiles. But we have found that entrepreneurship, especially selling and marketing, works very well on the mobile phones. As long as the experience is interactive and mediated, people tend to enjoy being trained via mobile phones.

From our practice , before actual delivery of the training, and to make the relevancy of the training for women entrepreneurs, we have to identify he markets for the anticipated skills and entrepreneurial aptitude test.

Curious what level of technical "literacy" people need to have to participate in these programs, or do people tend to pick up the skills to use the device and platform pretty easily?

I would say the number need for people in Africa is having a business plan with Innovative ideas. This attracts investors. From living and working in Africa, I have found that most people simply own businesses without a written plan for growth and the future, and so they find it difficult handle business related issues

Yes, I definitely think policy makers are important players in making sure that learning outcomes are aligned with the the labor market demands. A good example is the No Child Left Behind Act in the States which all the sudden shifted the education emphasis to standardized testing and doing well on these ill-suited tests.

Ekanath, what are the priorities you typically hear from women entrepreneurs?

I think that is a very real and exciting opportunity, though I don't know of any programs that are working globally to do this.

Here is some information on a program by Thunderbird for Good, from the Thunderbird School for Global Management, based in Arizona that is using technology to train and provide networking opportunities to women in South America, where the networking is mostly among local peers.

Thunderbird for Good and Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold have partnered to develop an online business skills training program that supports women entrepreneurs at learning centers where the world’s largest mining company operates facilities. Three initial sites in Chile and Peru use web-based technologies to deliver instruction, tools and resources in Spanish to program participants. Following certification, program participants continue to have access to an online forum that provides the women with tools and templates to manage and track their business performance. The program, announced at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative in New York, also provides networking opportunities among participants.

I would be really interested to hear some more examples of programmes on the ground. And relating to points made on the potential of technology - 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?

What kind of training did you do to help spur innovation in these entrepreneurs? That is not something that seems as easy to do as teaching how to write a business plan.

You hit on a good point on timing. I think technology has enabled us to all become autodidacts. We can learn whatever we want on our own time and interests. With tech, we really don't have an excuse to not look up something we don't know or are not good at. It fosters lifetime learning.

This is definitely a cultural shift for most people, but I think the adoption rate is increasing and more people are open to the idea that they can actually learn on their mobile and other electronic devices instead of just communication, etc.

Generally they always ask for market opportunities, timing of the training, profitability , financing and social securities .

The women identified support from their families and society at large as a priority. For example; one of the women was afraid to grow her business beyond a certain level because she didn't want to society to say she was making more money than her husband.

This situation may not be the same for a well educated woman with proper understanding of business

I agree and disagree. I definitely think entrepreneurs in emerging markets need to think long- term and longer-term. And if a written plan is the way to enforce that, sure. But one critique I do have of written plans is that once something is committed to paper, people unconsciously feel like they are binded to the words on pages. They have a harder time thinking outside of the original plan and being creative with problem solving. Written plans can't foresee most of he problems that are going to crop out.

I would also like to know when using technology, is there a difference that needs to be considered for women entrepreneurs versus men, or can it be considered universal? For example, are there technology gaps, or unique information for one versus the other? Also, if technology is thought to be scalable, how easy is it then to be "locally relevant."?

Another interesting model is the Global Social Benefit Incubator at Santa Clara University.

The Global Social Benefit Institute (GSBI®) is a hub for global, innovation-based entrepreneurship in service to humanity. GSBI currently includes two distinct capacity development programs to social entrepreneurs: the GSBI Accelerator, which offers customized curriculum for more advanced social enterprises preparing to scale their business, and GSBI Online, which offers general business training for earlier-stage ventures to validate their enterprise’s model. Both programs are designed for high engagement between entrepreneurs, Silicon Valley mentors, and program staff. The GSBI Network is an affiliation of mission-aligned universities and organizations building social enterprise incubators and accelerators. - See more at: