Leadership and entrepreneurship education can improve economic opportunities for young people in countries where those are scarce, both directly through self-employment and indirectly through greater community participation.
An 18-month voluntary in-school programme on leadership and entrepreneurship for students in their last two years of secondary school. The programme is designed to be mainly practical. It combines weekly lectures with mentoring sessions and School Business Club activities.
- To develop students’ practical and soft skills for entrepreneurship and leadership
- To foster self-employment and other entrepreneurial activities
- To increase economic opportunities and income levels
This intervention was tested in a country where entrepreneurship education is integrated as an official subject in secondary schools. That approach was taken in response to young people representing about half of the unemployed in the country, with employment opportunities for youth being mainly concentrated in the informal economy and characterised by low wages and unstable conditions.
Secondary school students aged 16 to 18 who volunteer to participate and are selected based on their entrepreneurship and leadership propensity (interest, previous experience, cognitive abilities, etc.).
- Lessons on entrepreneurship and leadership: Weekly lessons administered by a specifically trained mentor. The lessons are designed to be mostly practical and are aimed at developing both practical and soft skills.
- Mentoring sessions: Mentors are recent university graduates who act as teachers, friends and role models to the students.
- Student business clubs: Small projects aimed at building students’ experience in managing small businesses. Students’ business club activities are primarily led by the students, with the support of the mentor.
- The programme didn’t foster the acquisition of practical entrepreneurial skills, business planning or financial literacy.
- Regarding soft skills, the programme didn’t affect creativity and only had negligible impacts on self-efficacy.
- The programme doubled the probability of owning a business (right at the end of the programme while participants were still at school). This effect was even larger for women, who experienced a 130 per cent increase in their probability of owning a business.
- The programme didn’t affect the probability of gaining wage-employment.
- Average monthly income doubled for the participants. The increase was particularly substantial for women participants, who experienced a 250 per cent increase.
- Besides being more likely to have their own businesses, participants were also 120 per cent more likely to have started and be running a community project, which is another type of entrepreneurial activity.
- Entrepreneurship education programmes can help youths living in countries with scarce economic opportunities for young people to increase their income levels through self-employment.
- Beyond its impacts on self-employment, leadership and entrepreneurship training has the potential to benefit society directly by increasing the propensity of young people to start community projects.