The best entrepreneurship education and training (EET) programs for women, especially in developing countries, focus not only on the program goals and its contents or curriculum but also on often-overlooked human factors — e.g. the intentions of the participants — and the contextual environment in which the entrepreneurs will be working.
Interest in the need to develop training programs for women entrepreneurs is growing, especially in developing countries where the potential influence of women entrepreneurs is significant. In these countries, woman entrepreneurs are often the first women in their families to receive an education or training. They also offer much-needed leadership models for girls and women to emulate and increase the respect for women in their communities.
Effective EET programs for women recognize the impact of acquiring finance, management and leadership skills, but also the challenges of the marketplace, family, cultural and institutional environment that women entrepreneurs are required to navigate.
Building on their extensive experience working with women entrepreneurs in developing countries, a team of academics from the University of Delaware, University of Arizona and the University of Houston Clear Lake outline the key components for designing and implementing EET programs for women: goals, program elements, human factors, the contextual environment, and funding.
Any program design begins with clear goals — create more jobs, enhance business profitability, improve entrepreneurial attitudes — and also, from the outset, the metrics that will be used to determine whether the goals have been achieved.
The program elements designed to meet the goals must take into account the unique circumstances of women entrepreneurs. For example, in cultures where women do not typically manage their finances, basic bookkeeping modules to help women manage cash flow are vital to managing the profitability of the entrepreneur’s business.
Thus, establishing goals and designing programs to meet those goals is just part of the equation for women entrepreneurs. Effective EET program takes into consideration other factors that can greatly influence the success of the program, such as:
Female entrepreneurial leaders around the world are building and operating successful businesses and creating value for their families and their communities—even where cultural norms do not support women, entrepreneurs. Others are using newly acquired business skills to contribute in other ways to civil society. Effective entrepreneurship education and training programs help women achieve not just entrepreneurial goals, but also leadership goals that can expand beyond entrepreneurship and business.
The extensive EET framework developed by the researchers details the key components of effective EET programs for women, beginning to establish the goals that will contribute the most to the development of women entrepreneurs in the region or nation the program is located.
Goals can be broken down into several categories:
With the goals clearly established, the content and curriculum can be constructed—along with a range of other program elements in support, such as
Human factors that can significantly temper or increase the success of the program, and must be carefully considered in the design or the program, include:
The contextual environment should not be overlooked, including:
Finally, there is the central role of funding: little can be accomplished without financial resources, usually raised through grants, donations or fundraising, and tuition. Consider the availability of resources and the conditions attached. Granting organizations, for example will often have specific goals in mind.
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