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ENTREPRENEURSHIP EDUCATION: A FLEXIBLE APPROACH.

Byline: Najam A. Anjum

The IBA has been offering entrepreneurial education since 2011 through the Aman Centre for Entrepreneurial Development (CED). This Center offers certificate courses in entrepreneurship and incubation space to fledgling businesses. It also organizes business plan competitions and start-up fairs, publishes case studies and short motivational stories for class discussions and is a constant source of help and support for young entrepreneurs and the small business community in the region.

The typical IBA student is between 18 and 22 years of age and has been selected through a rigorous merit-based admissions process and is enrolled in a formal, multi-year degree program. The typical Aman CED student shares none of these characteristics. Aman CED has been experimenting with a different approach to selecting who we teach and how we teach. First, we allow people of all ages and all backgrounds to enroll. Second, we do not have rigid admissions criteria and select students mostly for passion and motivation. Third, all CED programs are short-term in nature, none more than a few months in duration. The flexible approach we employ at Aman CED allows classes to be infused by a variety of perspectives and experiences. This helps stimulate much creativity in class - a necessary condition for entrepreneurship.

The flexible approach to admissions also allows us to open the IBA to a much wider range of students than can be done for the formal degree programs. Many underprivileged students come to the IBA this way. International funding agencies apprec-iate this aspect and often route inclusion-focused programs to the CED. Most recently, the CED was selected by the UNDP to conduct an entrepreneurship training program for fresh technical education diploma holders from low income neighbourhoods and backgrounds in Karachi.

The CED entrepreneurship education approach has won international recognition as well. In 2017, we designed an entrepreneurship training program for women that was funded by the World Bank. This subsequently won the 'Outstanding Specialty Entrepreneurship Program Award' granted by USASBE (United States Association for Small Business and Entrepreneurship).

The CED also hosts the only program at IBA that has notable foreign participation. This is the International Entrepreneurship Summer School (IESS) and it features both foreign students and faculty. The first edition of the IESS was run in August 2016 and in its three editions since then, students and faculty have been hosted from the USA, Holland, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Sudan, Turkey, Iran, China, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh and Malaysia.

The CED philosophy is aligned with some recent thinking in entrepreneurship literature known as effectuation. This approach encourages individuals to be experimental and to take small steps instead of making a million-dollar business plan and then seeking funding. A student is taught to look at the capabilities, knowledge, resources and contacts he or she owns and to base decisions and strategies on these.

The effectuation or 'means-based approach' makes the process of launching a business quicker as one is encouraged to launch businesses with funds at hand rather than wait for large sums to become available from banks or venture capitalists. This approach also highlights the idea of affordable risk which refers to the maximum loss that the entrepreneur can afford. With a good sense of his or her level of affordable loss, an entrepreneur typically becomes more action-oriented.

The CED approach should serve IBA well in the future. The emerging trend of outsourcing, disintegration of large corporations, and resulting rise in the number of small businesses and freelancers, suggests that an entrepreneurial mindset is useful in negotiating the changes taking place in the world of work. Demand for entrepreneurship training will continue to rise in the future and the IBA is well placed to respond.

I've had the good fortune of securing two degrees from the IBA. The key learning in each case was slightly different, yet equally invaluable. The IBA's BBA program challenged me with its formidable workload. By contrast, IBA's MS Economics program was more rigorous and quantitative. My degrees gave me a thorough grip on both economic theory and practical applications.

Talha Nadeem

Alumnus 2016, Senior Analyst, State Bank of Pakistan

For me, IBA stands for "Ideas Becoming Actions". From core finance and operations management concepts to theories of strategy and organizational behaviour, I have seen theory converting into practical applications in my professional career. I now reflect back and realize the importance of change.

Saad Shamsi

Alumnus 2014, North America Productivity Manager, FieldCore

I have learned to focus on the job and do my best to add value wherever possible while meeting deadlines at all costs.

Zohaib Ali Khan

Alumnus 2009, Manager, Philip Morris, Korea

The IBA taught me to objectively analyze a situation, chart out a plan of action, strive to take a holistic view of each situation and be shrewd yet pragmatic. Once out of the IBA, I got a chance to manage multiple "enterprise level" projects for my organization. These formed the crux of a winning strategy; recognition and rewards followed soon.

Muhammad Akber Iqbal

Alumnus 2011, Manager, Software Development, Aga Khan University
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Publication:South Asia
Date:May 7, 2019
Words:919
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