Together with Kenyan partners, German universities are promoting entrepreneurship and a course of training that will properly prepare students for their careers.
Many emerging African countries face the same problem: well-educated and highly-motivated young people graduate from university but still have great difficulties finding a job. Many companies claim that applicants are not well prepared for the realities of the job, despite their technical knowledge and skills. “This is tragic, because it means that a lot of innovative entrepreneurial potential is lost; potential that these countries urgently need”, says Christine Freitag from Bonn-Rhein-Sieg University of Applied Sciences (H-BRS). “We know from our own experience how important it is for degree courses to be as practical in orientation as possible and have good connections with the business world.”
Freitag is manager of the “Collaboration for Entrepreneurial Universities” (CEPU) project that is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funding from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Four German universities are cooperating on the project with two Kenyan universities; their objective is to better prepare the latter’s students and graduates for the employment market. The project partners in Kenya are Kenyatta University and Mount Kenya University, while Leuphana University Lüneburg, Leipzig University and Wismar University of Applied Sciences, Technology, Business and Design are involved on the German side in addition to the H-BRS.
Training in how to start a new business
The CEPU project is part of the DAAD’s “Entrepreneurial Universities in Africa” (EpU) programme. It is based on the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the areas of education, work and economic growth, and industry, innovation and infrastructure. The programme aims to contribute to these SDGs by fostering start-ups and small businesses, setting up and expanding incubators at the partner universities, offering coaching for young entrepreneurs, and widening the university curricula to include entrepreneurship.
Developed by Leuphana University, the “Student Training for Entrepreneurial Promotion” (STEP) workshop is in particular demand among students. Provided with 100 US dollars as seed capital, participants go through the entire process of starting a new business in three months, from business idea to finished product. CEPU is aimed above all at teachers, researchers, administrative personnel and university management staff. They are familiarised with new concepts in line with the “train the trainer” principle.
Much the same applies to the “Job Shadowing Programme”. Kenyan lecturers spend several months shadowing colleagues in Germany. Dr Daniel Otieno, an educationalist at Kenyatta University, took part in the programme: “It was interesting to see which other didactic methods can be used to get students to be more active and more creative.” He experienced for example how techniques such as simulation or project-based learning can be used in a targeted manner while benefiting from the advantages of a learning management system. He was also introduced to ways of staging virtual international conferences. “Taking part in such conferences with students and colleagues from different parts of the world was especially worthwhile for me. This allowed me to develop further multicultural communication skills and competencies.”