Developing an entrepreneurial vision for Pakistan

Universities need to step-up and give their students an entrepreneurial culture they can thrive in

Innovation and creative thinking are the two pillars on which the ability to conceive new ideas and solve problems stands. Entrepreneurs are the business leaders who develop a business model and earn revenue by offering a product or service. Their business generates employment opportunities that strengthen the socio-economic fabric. And given how entrepreneurial our world is becoming, it would not be a stretch to say that the age of business management may be coming to an end, and that the age of entrepreneurship is upon us and has room to thrive by those aspiring to launch their businesses.

Students use digital media, especially social media, to connect with customers and stakeholders, market their ventures and launch their start-ups. Business schools across Pakistan have been offering undergraduate degree programs in entrepreneurship that students opt-for with enthusiasm. 

In a broader context, entrepreneurship provides a basic structure to resolve impending challenges of society and the economy. Pakistan can move towards an entrepreneurial-focused economy, but a mindset and an ecosystem are required. The mindset for entrepreneurship could be developed when the students are connected to experts in the fields they are interested in. Learning and watching first hand successful entrepreneurial ventures is not just an enriching experience, but also encourages the development of the entrepreneurial spirit in these students. Such specialists guide students on how to tread when working on their start-ups. An ecosystem is created when multiple start-up ventures operate, compete, and collaborate to develop the industry. 

A business school needs to promote a culture of innovation. It identifies students aiming to launch a start-up venture and induct them into their incubation center for mentorship. The practical guidance can come from the faculty of the institute and industry experts. An effective linkage between the faculty and industry can streamline the exchange of information. This academia-industry relationship can serve multiple objectives. This academia-industry linkage is a major buzzword in business education and this is for a reason. 

First, faculty can connect with experts to discuss new advancements in particular fields. Second, students can acquire in-depth knowledge pertaining to their field of study. Experts can also guide students for their Capstone Projects. These Projects are multidimensional assignments that formally end the students’ academic journey but add value to their intellect and industry-centric acumen. Experiential learning, therefore, is the foundation on which the various graduate and undergraduate programs are developed. Business schools facilitate students to acclimate to the concepts and principles they learn in class and implement them once they step into the industry. Undergraduate degree programs in entrepreneurship include such meticulous details spread across the curriculum to nurture an entrepreneurial vision among students.      

To promote this vision of entrepreneurship, business schools should develop their incubation center and conduct extensive industry engagements to facilitate students in launching their start-ups. The faculty members and industry experts can provide insights on how to launch a sustainable business model that will promote entrepreneurship as a degree program, motivate students to become entrepreneurs, and create an ecosystem where students, faculty, and industry experts can interact to exchange insights and knowledge and experience.   

Furthermore, the start-up incubators and accelerators working in Pakistan need to engage with academia. Venture capital will be acquired when the start-up industry thrives and raises investor confidence, and that will happen when all stakeholders work in cohesion. With changes in industry trends, market needs, concepts, and practices, we must attune our learning to the idea of entrepreneurship. Gone are the days when entrepreneurs were considered individuals who took risks to set up a business. Today, they are guided by mentors, inspired by well-established entrepreneurs, enthused about working through social media and digital media that connect them with national and international clients, mentors, and investors. Global connectivity is not an issue in today’s age of information. The question is how to develop a practical business idea, a logical business model, a realistic financial plan, and a vision to run the operational and strategic aspects of the start-up smoothly. 

Business schools should integrate entrepreneurial insights into the curriculum of undergraduate courses offered for entrepreneurship. These acumens must come from the local landscape of Pakistan. Students must know what action plans must be implemented to turn a start-up idea into a success. Academia needs to associate theory with practice. Business schools can launch elective courses in their undergraduate programs about entrepreneurship. The faculty must not instruct but guide students on how best to use innovative solutions when developing a business model or completing prerequisites for launching a business venture that includes theories and concepts about business management, finances, human resource and capital, marketing and promotion, among others. A flipped classroom method can work wonders. Students complete their classwork and reading assignments at home and deliberate upon ideas in classroom discussions.  

When talking about an entrepreneurial vision, business schools can construct a mechanism to foster the business ideas of their students in their on-campus incubation centres. Initiatives such as business competitions and exhibitions can be organized to compel students to present their ideas. Experts from the industry can serve as judges and select the best business models to be incubated. Such entrepreneurial initiatives should be supported at the national level. It is essential to conceive a business idea that works. It is a different ball game altogether to make it a viable enterprise. Faculty must impart relevant information, insights, and ideas among students to help them become successful entrepreneurs. It is heartening to see Pakistan’s youth from business schools using their resourcefulness, creativity, and ingenuity to start ventures. This ecosystem needs to be evolved into a sub-set of the entrepreneurial sector of Pakistan that remains connected with the industrial sector at large.

 

Talib S. Karim
The author is the President of the Institute of Business Management (IoBM)

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