By Charles Okechukwu Okidegbe
NAIROBI - Research and studies are well documented on the subject of entrepreneurship in the Western and developed world. But only a few of such studies have been carried out on the African continent.
Although entrepreneurship has been severally defined by authorities and scholars; it still remains relatively easier to recognise entrepreneurs than defining the discipline they have committed to undertake.
According to David Mecclland(1961) entrepreneurs are people primarily motivated by an overwhelming need for achievement and have strong urge to build. Birds (1993) identified entrepreneurs as personalities that are prone to insight, brainstorms, and deception, creative and unsentimental.
By deductive reasoning, we may define entrepreneurship as an embodiment of all the actions, attributes and activities of entrepreneurs. Put differently, it is an articulated intuitive process of anticipating, recognising, evaluating and exploiting productive ventures with a view to profit. Such ventures ultimately results in the production of goods and services that satisfies societal needs desires and aspiration.
Entrepreneurship could therefore be effected in form of scientific, socio- cultural, technological, economic or political breakthrough and transformation.
Entrepreneurs are therefore goal getters, endowed with gift of vision, smartness and meticulous in operation, dogged with ambition for innovation and discovery, exceptional amount of determination, unrivalled self confidence, a voracious appetite for knowledge an inexhaustible reservoir of energy, an egocentrism for personal accomplishment .These traits no doubt mark off entrepreneurs from usual business entities.
Although several factors affect the speed of economic progression such as climate change, government policies, property rights, propensity to save and invest, level of employment and inflation, presence of seaports, wind of change, socio- cultural evolution etc .However, the effect of societal level of entrepreneurship on the degree of economic growth cannot be over –emphasized.
Unfortunately most empirical growth literature seems to exclude entrepreneurship among the variables that have bearing on the level of economic progression. This is however understandable in that measurement of the level and quality of entrepreneurship is far from been easy.
However the recent studies by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) have established that a strong correlation exists between the level of entrepreneurial activities and the level of economic development.
More-so, the demise of communist economies where entrepreneurial activities was about absent and the development progress been registered in capitalist economies where private ownership of enterprises is encouraged shows there is a positive link between entrepreneurship and economic activities.
As think tanks, entrepreneurs act as change agents. For instance look at what electricity associated with Benjaimen Franklin has done to our modern world, an aeroplane invented by the Wright Brothers and telephone by Alexander Graham
In the free enterprise economy of the modern world, as has been observed earlier, private enterprises are the movers of the society while the government provides enabling environment through policies formulation. This follows that entrepreneurs are employment generators.
The thoughts and works of Steve Jobs of Apple computers and Bill Gates of Microsoft have created huge employment opportunities in our globalised world.
And in Africa it is noteworthy to acknowledge the works of Dr Manu Chandaria of Chandarina Group of companies, Kris Kirubi of Capital Group of Companies, Dr James Mwangi of Equity Bank Ltd, Aigboje Aig Imoukhuede of Access Bank ltd, Mr Aliko Dangote of Dangote Group of companies to mention but a few.
Entrepreneurship entails good business management skills. Meaning entrepreneurs know how to effectively combine human, material and financial resources for organizational goals accomplishment. In doing so they ensure that policies aimed at achieving organizational goals and human resources policies are made mutually re-enforcing.
Entrepreneurs are strategies, resourceful, networkers and socially responsible. Strategically, entrepreneurs ensure that goals are met as and when due in the ordinary course of business. Decisions are normally made after due consultations. This process is usually devoid of sentiments but well oiled by pragmatic practices.
As resourceful personalities, entrepreneurs are able to multi- task. And as networkers they collaborate with one another to ensure that the society benefits from the synergy. And in competing, they increases efficiency through impetus innovation by discovering new markets with new products or production process
It is perhaps in recognition of the positive implication of entrepreneurial activities that led Adam Smith to propagate his law of invisible hands – “Individuals in pursuit of their self interest are led by the law of invisible hand to perform act that benefits the society at large”
Unfortunately, all societies are not equally endowed with entrepreneurs just as entrepreneurs are not equally endowed with entrepreneurial skills. And while some entrepreneurial skills might be hereditary most can be acquired through training and orientation.
It is therefore incumbent on the governments to provide enabling environment and policies that encourages and propagates the development and sustenance of entrepreneurship among its citizens.
It might be imperative to mention here that entrepreneurship was highly considered among the factors that were put together in the formulating and development of the policies in the American dream. Europe and Asia have strong policies that encourage citizens to venture into entrepreneurship. Lately African countries have followed suit and hopefully efforts will be sustained in this direction in line with current developments in our globalized world
Charles Okechukwu Okidegbe is based in Nairobi, Kenya. He is an entrepreneur with the Emerald Investment Limited.