Ashesi University has launched a research project with McGill University to understand the pathways from experiential education to the entrepreneurial actions of their students and graduates.
The research, a Mastercard Foundation (MCF) Partner Research Fund (PRF) sponsored project, primarily focuses on MCF Scholarship beneficiaries and provides an opportunity to study students in general.
The Provost of Ashesi University, Professor Angela Owusu-Ansah, highlighted the importance of the collaboration between Ashesi and McGill University. “In our current era of uncertainty, complexity, and the rate of change in technology being new every six months and knowledge being generated at that rate, no one institution can brace these challenges on their own.
So, collaboration is the key. Hence, when Ashesi and McGill decided to collaborate, it was to join these different mindsets and their wisdom. On one hand there is Ashesi, young, risk-taker, and exploratory and then McGill being an older institution. These differences have naturally set the path for the two institutions to learn from and complement each other.”
She also mentioned that the collaboration to carry out this research project is a step in the right direction. She explained that “one unique thing that connects Ashesi and McGill is having Mastercard Foundation scholars of African descent. The beauty of it is that as we train them in entrepreneurship, we are training young leaders with the courage and desire to stay here or come back and impact the continent.”
Prof. Owusu-Ansah was optimistic that the research will uncover nuances and the impact that institutions make on the entrepreneurial journey of a student or a graduate.
The university invited other MCF partner institutions such as Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) , Campaign for Female Education (CamFed Ghana), African Institute of Mathematical Science (AIMS Ghana), Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) Ghana Tech Lab, and other institutions with focused incubation programmes such as the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS) Innovation and Incubation Center, University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA) Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center, University of Mines and Technology (UMaT) Business Incubation Hub, and Academic City University College Technology and Entrepreneurship Center.
Presenting the focus of the research, Dr. Gordon Adomdza, the Co-principal Investigator, and Associate Professor at Ashesi University, indicated that the research centered around how to capture the nature of experiential education provided through courses, internships, and community service engagements. More importantly, Dr. Gordon Adomdza noted that the research will investigate when and how these various experiential exposures trigger entrepreneurial activity by students and alumni.
The Co-principal Investigator, Dr. Nii Antiaye Addy, Associate Director (Africa Outreach) in the office of the Deputy Provost Student Life and Learning (DPSLL) at McGill University, noted that the research, in many ways, also compares programmes in two different institutions in different regions of the world.
It will provide an empirical lens for capturing how different programmes delivered within a young institutional structure such as Ashesi University in Ghana, about 20 years old, are from those delivered in a 200-year-old university such as McGill University in Canada. He noted that the research design provided an opportunity to have a much broader sense of these programmes and their effectiveness.
The invited institutions also had the opportunity to share their challenges in tracking the activities of their programme participants after engaging them in training programmes. Although they were making significant impacts through their programmes, many shared gaps in documenting these impacts. They indicated a high interest in improving on their data collection processes in their entrepreneurship training programmes.
As part of the next steps, the researchers noted that they will take a process-based approach which will send them to 5 African countries where Ashesi draws the majority of its pan-African students. In these countries, they will conduct interviews and build case studies on the experiential learning and entrepreneurial journeys of alumni.
The research partners will also track entrepreneurial support events at Ashesi and McGill to understand how the universities’ experiential educational experiences guide the participants in their actions in entrepreneurship.