Raising an Army of Next Generation Entrepreneurs
8 Sep 2014

GEW hosts around the world have embraced Training of Trainers (TOT) programs to raise an army that will inspire, connect, mentor and engage the next generation of successful entrepreneurs. GEW is more than just a week of activities and events once a year to raise awareness about entrepreneurship. Its mission is to plant the seeds to build and strengthen entrepreneurial ecosystems and this requires a long-term vision, strategy and planning.

Recently, GEW hosts took part in an online brainstorming session, discussing best practices and the most productive methods for devising a successful TOT strategy. Initiated by Tinatin Gholadze from the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Center, the official GEW host organization in Georgia, the discussion resulted in much food for thought for those who like Gholadze are looking to roll out their own TOT programs.

The consensus amongst GEW hosts is that teachers in primary or secondary schools make the perfect potential trainers and consequently, a partnership with the Ministry of Education is the key to success in launching scalable and effective TOT programs nationwide.

The official GEW host organization in Indonesia, the Ciputra Foundation, collaborated closely with the Ministry of Education from the start, particularly with the directorates responsible for primary, secondary and tertiary education. Their target was to work with all state-owned schools and universities.

Junior Achievement Bulgaria, the official GEW host organization in Bulgaria, took a slightly different route, first establishing a successful pilot program and then working with the Ministry of Education on a grand scale.

“The first step is to train the teachers to be able to use the educational programs we offer,” said Vera Petkantchin from Junior Achievement Bulgaria. “A couple of years are needed so that these teachers gain experience, amass good practices, form a community, start sharing good practices and working together. We helped facilitate this process by organizing a major scientific conference to bring together teachers as well as university professors so they could exchange ideas. Once we obtained this critical mass of 150-200 trained teachers, we approached the Ministry of Education to roll out the TOT process around the country.”

Armin Baharian from the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, the official GEW host organization in Germany, stresses the importance of including the next generation of teachers in the TOT process, i.e. university students studying to become teachers so that it would be easier for them to incorporate the entrepreneurial spirit into their lessons once they become teachers.

Ivan Sandjaja from the Ciputra Foundation, believes it is vital to ensure that trainers understand that the impact of entrepreneurship extends beyond individuals and organizations and benefits the whole country. To effectively train and inspire a whole new generation of entrepreneurs, trainers need to completely change their own mindset first. One of the aims of the TOT process is to do just that, Sandjaja recommends using the Effectual Entrepreneurship by Professor Saras Sarasvathy of the Darden Business School at the University of Virginia as a successful methodology to initiate this process.

Picking the right partner in order to execute and scale the TOT strategy is important, a lot of GEW host organizations in countries such as Indonesia, Germany and Bulgaria partnered with the Ministry of Education.

For the pilot TOT program, selecting the right candidates is also essential, as Petkantchin explains.

“We chose the most active 30 teachers with the richest experience and facilitator skills to take part in the TOT training,” she said. “They were the change-makers in their communities and embodied the entrepreneurial spirit we are looking to foster in the kids. We were careful to choose teachers from different regions so that they could easily cover the whole country.”

Announcing the TOT program to the target audience is important to have the right candidates to apply to the program, and indeed incorporating the application process into the GEW calendar might be a good idea to get more publicity.

Sandjaja observes that “the aim of a TOT program should not be limited to training trainers who can only teach entrepreneurship as a subject, the trainers should be able to inspire others to be entrepreneurs or at least help them to think like entrepreneurs.”

Shaqadoon, the official GEW host organization in Somalia runs a TOT program where the trainers will aid Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) graduates to help kick-start their own small or micro businesses. The program also includes an assessment component to evaluate the trainees and their performance to ensure that they are gaining the right skills.

GEW hosts who have run successful TOT programs agree that teaching the entrepreneurial mindset should involve more than theory. In fact, gaining hands-on entrepreneurial experience is key for the trainers. Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation, the official GEW host organization in Nepal, asks trainers to get involved in running a business within their college or school so they can learn the basic concepts of entrepreneurship through their own experience.

Designing an effective TOT program is certainly a challenge, especially since the future trainers joining the program do not typically come from an entrepreneurial background. However, if the program, as it does in many cases, targets teachers in primary or secondary education, then once these teachers grasp the entrepreneurial way of thinking, the snowball effect on their students would be tremendous.

Successful GEW campaigns are those that convert people at the grassroots level to the entrepreneurial way of thinking which makes TOT programs an effective tool to build an army of next generation entrepreneurs.

Photo Source: Cydcor