Expert Comment: ‘Why it is Time for us to Demystify the Entrepreneur’

By Dr Gloria Appiah

To celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, Dr Gloria Appiah, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at Kent Business School discusses the real and perceived barriers to entrepreneurship success.

“The recognition of entrepreneurship’s transformative abilities for social and economic development has led to an exciting global uptake. Stakeholders, passionate about addressing national inequalities continue to support entrepreneurial activities and outcomes. Even while in the uncertain grips of Covid-19, a Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) report recorded a substantial increase in the drive to start new businesses, particularly among emerging countries.

“For several people, however, the intention to engage in entrepreneurial activities, especially those leading to new ventures, is just a fantasy they may never act on. This is due to enduring perceptions of entrepreneurship as an endeavour that only a select group of people, endowed with unique abilities, succeed at. On the contrary, there is strong evidence to suggest entrepreneurship in various contexts could be a fruitful path that many can excel at. According to Saras Sarasvathy, a guru in entrepreneurship research and education, with the right exposure and training, everyone can become a successful entrepreneur.

“While the springing up of several incubator and innovator hubs, as well as the increasing integration of entrepreneurship education into mainstream higher educational curricula is promising, the resources these avenues offer are out of the reach of many. Qualification criteria into these programmes naturally filters out people with no or low education, and locations of innovator and incubator hubs in affluent areas, makes it difficult to attract a wider diversity of entrepreneurs.

How do we ensure that no one is left behind in the quest to entrepreneurship success?

“First, there is the need to demystify the entrepreneur. This could be by making entrepreneurship an integral part of the educational curriculum not just in higher levels of education, but at lower levels, in both public and privately funded schools. Also, real life mentorships could be encouraged in entrepreneurial workplaces, particularly with a focus to offer those with lesser access to income and formal education experiences of starting new ventures. In addition, practical measures to normalise risks in business environments could be a powerful way to encourage people to venture into entrepreneurial businesses.

“If entrepreneurship was normalised with facilities such as walk-in resource hubs where budding local entrepreneurs can easily access support for various aspects of their entrepreneurial journey, I believe people would become much more inspired to think of their own business ideas and reach out for much-needed support to facilitate their entrepreneurial journeys.

“Building entrepreneurial capacity in these ways have clear advantages, including nurturing local, and in some cases, less resourced- individuals to be ambassadors, who encourage counterparts to consider entrepreneurship as an achievable venture.”

Dr Gloria Appiah is Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and course leader for BSc Business and Entrepreneurship. Her research interests lie in the broad areas of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in organisations. Dr Appiah is particularly interested in how these concepts manifest in the context of small, constrained businesses. Some specific research interests include small businesses’ creativity, creativity and entrepreneurial processes, deviance and creativity, and organisational routines.


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