8 March 2022
An international partnership project which was one of the winners for the British Council funded Innovation for African Universities programme (IAU) 2021 has secured a further £85,000 funding for Phase 2.
The project Accelerating Entrepreneurship Support in Universities in Kenya (AESU) is led by Dr Michael Ngoasong of The Open University Business School, with Professor Abel Meru (Riara University Kenya) and an ecosystem partner, Vincent Odhiambo (Regional Director, Ashoka East Africa).
For Phase 1 (October–December 2021), the partnership had received £15,000 to draw on ongoing action research and capacity-building workshops to design the programme. A competition was also carried out in which 12 student-led start-up businesses were selected from 44 applications.
During January to September 2022, the partnership will pilot an approach to entrepreneurship education through a blended learning programme within a virtual start-up accelerator. The accelerator will impact this cohort of student start-ups who will be able to either gain direct employment or be empowered to access and act on available resources to successfully establish, manage and grow social and commercial enterprises in their home environment.
The student start-up businesses will go through a six-month acceleration programme where they will be offered a package of support: £500 cash support; virtual and physical co-working space, networking with Ashoka’s Changemaker experts and a team of externally-recruited OU consultants in the form of a structured mentoring and coaching programme; and Demo Days to pitch in front of qualified investors.
The educational supplies and training materials used in the pilot programme will be adapted to create a 3-credit course titled Accelerating Entrepreneurship for Changemaking and rendered on the virtual accelerator platform. The course constitutes the training programme for the accelerator post-funding, thereby supporting sustainability.
For the Open University Business School team, Dr Isidora Kourt is leading impact work to develop professional identity for the student-led businesses (as changemakers) and for the AESU partnership as a university-led ecosystem. Dr Dina Williams is supporting the design of the virtual accelerator platform, while Dr Clifford Conway is supporting the design of the Accelerating Entrepreneurship for Changemaking course. Both Dina and Clifford are Associate Lecturers on our undergraduate module, B327 Creating futures: sustainable enterprise and innovation.
To find out more about our work, or to discuss a potential project, please contact:
International Development Research Office
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The Open University
T: +44 (0)1908 858502