Knowledge 2 Knowledge Entrepreneurship, Côte d’Ivoire, is a one-year capacity-building training programme to help knowledge institutes in Côte d’Ivoire to foster an entrepreneurial mindset and skills in their students.
The project hopes to achieve a lasting positive and tangible impact on job creation in a country and world region faced with high levels of youth unemployment. While Africa is the only region where the youth population will continue to grow, over one in five youth are not in employment, education or training (NEET) (ILO report 2020).
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 8 aims to substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education, or training. Yet, youth employment cannot only rely on job offers in the public sector, major multinational groups or companies, especially in the only world region where the youth population is continuing to grow.
A thorough study of the Ivorian entrepreneurship ecosystem conducted in 2018 showed that fostering entrepreneurship can serve as an economic catalyst and a tangible way to contribute to economic inclusion and growth in Côte d’Ivoire. However, it warned that incentivising entrepreneurship without developing an entrepreneurial mindset and providing the concrete skills to increase success rates could be counterproductive.
To address this challenge, a group of Dutch and Ivorian higher education organisations joined forces to develop the Knowledge 2 Knowledge Entrepreneurship programme with funding from the Orange Corners programme of the Rijksdienst voor Ondernemend Nederland (RVO). The initiative will function as a knowledge-to-knowledge exchange between UNU-MERIT, PLNT Leiden Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, SIRIS Academic and ESPartners and will be implemented in three institutions in Côte d’Ivoire — the Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny, the International University of Grand-Bassam and the Université Alassane Ouattara.
On 24 June 2021, the organisations signed a Memorandum of Understanding to seal their partnership. During the event, the Minister of Technical Education, Vocational Training and Apprenticeship, Mr. Koffi N’Guessan, and Ambassador of The Netherlands to Côte d’Ivoire, her Excellency Yvette Daoud, applauded the continued cooperation between the Netherlands and Côte d’Ivoire in the area of capacity building to develop and strengthen the private sector.
Training of Trainers (ToT)
Specifically, the Knowledge 2 Knowledge Entrepreneurship programme involves an experiential Training of Trainers (ToT) component within the three participating knowledge institutes. Instead of focusing on generic theory, Western practices and success stories, the uniqueness of this initiative lies in its focus on the development of context-relevant programmes geared towards practising entrepreneurial mindset and skills.
The training programme is a context-driven process where the expressed needs of the three institutions regarding entrepreneurship education serve as the reference for tailored capacity-building interventions. The ToT component aims to empower and support selected teachers to design a curriculum on entrepreneurship or improve the entrepreneurial modules offered to their students. The curriculum and modules will focus on addressing local challenges, applying methods such as problem-based learning, action learning, systems thinking, and design thinking tools.
Further, the initiative promotes equal opportunities for female entrepreneurship. It aims to narrow the gender gap in a country where women entrepreneurs outnumber men but lead only 15% of companies.
The entrepreneurial education programme aims to deliver well-trained students who will possess the adaptive capacity and entrepreneurial mindset to bridge the gap between university education and the job market. The initiative expects to end in April 2022.
For more information, please contact UNU-MERIT PhD candidate Victor Osei Kwadwo.