European Business Schools Expand into Africa to Foster Entrepreneurship

European Business Schools Expand into Africa to Foster Entrepreneurship

European institutions are partnering with local institutions in Africa to offer tailored entrepreneurship programs and support the growth of African entrepreneurs.

European business schools are recognizing the immense potential of Africa as a hub for entrepreneurship. With its youthful population, rapidly urbanizing economies, and abundant natural resources, the continent is teeming with entrepreneurial talent. However, many African entrepreneurs face obstacles such as limited access to education, financing, and mentorship. To bridge this gap, European business schools are stepping up their efforts, offering tailor-made entrepreneurship programs and expanding their presence deeper into Africa. These initiatives aim to cultivate a new generation of African entrepreneurs who can contribute to the continent’s development and address pressing challenges such as the energy transition.

HEC Paris Establishes Master in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Ivory Coast

HEC Paris, a renowned business school, has been present in Africa since 2007. In 2018, it opened a permanent office in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s economic capital. Recently, HEC Paris partnered with the Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny (INP-HB) to establish a Master in Entrepreneurship and Innovation in Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast. The 18-month program aims to provide practical experiences and equip African entrepreneurs with the skills needed to transform their ideas into successful businesses. One student, Amon Hugues-Michel Amon, plans to address the energy transition challenge in West Africa by creating a regulatory body for solar panel installations.

European Institutions Fill the Gap in Globally Ranked Schools

While local business schools in Africa cater to the growing demand for business education, provision of globally ranked schools on the continent remains limited. This gap has not gone unnoticed by global institutions, with European and US business schools, as well as Chinese counterparts, entering the African market. For example, Shanghai’s China Europe International Business School (Ceibs) has established a base in Ghana, and Duke University Fuqua School of Business offers executive education programs. European institutions, such as Germany’s Frankfurt School of Finance and Management, also collaborate with African universities to provide degree programs, short courses, workshops, and mentorship initiatives.

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European Business Schools Offer Global Networks and Partnerships

In addition to education, European business schools bring global networks and partnerships that can help African entrepreneurs expand their businesses beyond national borders. Lancaster University Management School in the UK, for instance, helps students at the American University in Cairo establish networks in Europe. These connections play a crucial role in entrepreneurial success, especially for businesses operating in North Africa, which often struggle to break into Europe due to geographical barriers. European institutions are also expanding their Entrepreneurs in Residence networks to Ghana, providing teaching and mentoring opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Adapting Programs to Local Context and Challenges

European business schools face challenges in adapting their programs to the unique needs and contexts of various African markets. Affordability and accessibility are also important considerations in a continent with significant poverty and economic disparities. Henley Business School, for example, delivers an Executive MBA program from its Johannesburg campus but has found it more effective to provide entrepreneurial training in smaller forms and at different levels, including short certificate courses. European institutions must also avoid a “savior mentality” and understand the local context to tackle challenges such as access to funding and poor infrastructure.

Collaboration and Ecosystem Building for Entrepreneurial Success

To address the challenges and foster entrepreneurship in Africa, European business schools collaborate with local institutions, incubators, accelerators, and established entrepreneurs. These partnerships aim to create an ecosystem that facilitates the exchange of ideas, development of connections, and access to potential investors. Spain’s Iese Business School, for instance, has helped set up local business schools in Africa and continues to support them through its Africa Initiative. By welcoming African participants on modules at its Madrid and Barcelona campuses, Iese aims to increase its entrepreneurial footprint in Africa and contribute to economic growth, job creation, and innovation.

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European business schools are recognizing the immense potential of Africa and are expanding their presence on the continent to foster entrepreneurship. By offering tailor-made entrepreneurship programs, collaborating with local institutions, and providing global networks and partnerships, these schools are equipping African entrepreneurs with the skills, knowledge, and connections needed to succeed. However, they must also adapt their programs to local contexts, ensure affordability and accessibility, and avoid a “savior mentality” to effectively address the unique challenges faced by African entrepreneurs. With these efforts, European business schools are playing a vital role in building the people and businesses that will contribute to the development and growth of Africa.