REF2021 17Z_ICS_A: Shaping entrepreneurial education pedagogy, practice and institutional policy in the UK, Europe, Africa and Asia

    Impact: Public Policy or Services impacts, Economic impacts

    Description of impact

    BCU’s Entrepreneurship Education (EE) research focuses on ‘customisation to context’. It has reach, having shaped institutional policy, practice and pedagogy in organisations around the world. The adoption of our approaches in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya contributed to EE, supporting over 1260 new start-up businesses. We created a contextualised educational framework that was utilised by social entrepreneurship educators across Europe. Research into financial literacy EE also resulted in lending institutions better advising entrepreneurs in the UK, Ghana and Pakistan. Work with a UK national housing association also transformed their approach to employability support for tenants, to include entrepreneurial self-employment.

    Details of Impact
    a. Enhancing international entrepreneurship education

    BCU participated in the AHEAD project, 2017-2021. Our research changed the pedagogical approach to teaching entrepreneurship and social enterprise in 10 higher education institutions (HEIs) in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Based on our research, we co-created entrepreneurship education teaching materials, which are accessible for all educators, and included: (i) case studies of good practice (available in English and Swahili); and, (ii) an extensive body of teaching materials (available in English and Swahili). This work and materials were disseminated at a conference and at a transnational ‘training the educator’ workshop, hosted by BCU, to 40 senior staff from these institutions.

    A follow-up survey (S01) asked participants to: ‘think about the time since that workshop … [and] indicate how your entrepreneurship education provision has developed as a consequence’. Responses were gathered 12 months after the dissemination event, and found that:

    96% of workshop participants had adopted Design Thinking or Human-Centred Design approaches;

    75% had adapted provision to suit their local context;

    92% said that ‘opportunities to teach experientially had increased’.

    In addition, following their lecturers’ participation in the Birmingham workshop, survey participants indicated that this had shaped EE which supported over 1260 new student/graduate business start-ups (S01). Our research helped shape the institutional policy of all of the participating institutions. For example, one respondent stated:

    “The workshop has been very useful in the review of curriculum at the institution. Entrepreneurship training is now part of every curriculum in the School of Business, where I am the Dean” (S01).

    b. Materials for social enterprise educators in 8 HEIs across 6 EU countries

    Between 2014-17, the School developed a novel set of learning materials that provided a framework for teaching entrepreneurship within the context of social enterprise (S02, S03). These materials have been adopted by HEIs in Bulgaria, Greece, Lithuania, Spain, Portugal, Turkey and the UK. The universities varied in size from 8000 to 20,000 students (at the University of Thessaly, Greece). The learning materials included:

    A series of case studies (S04) which are accessible and used by educators throughout the EU (available online to anyone);

    The creation of a six chapter social enterprise curriculum (translated into seven languages) focussing on entrepreneurship education within the context of social enterprise, climate change and sustainability.

    All of these items were available via the BEST project Moodle site and were adopted by at least 8 HE institutions in 6 EU countries during the lifetime of the project and beyond (S05).

    c. Improving micro-finance opportunities for entrepreneurs in Ghana and Pakistan

    Our work influenced microfinance institutions in a number of countries, leading to lending-policy change. For example, in Ghana, one institution changed as follows:

    “from your findings… we have now made a policy change …especially, mechanisms have been put in place to involve husband and wife in the KYC [‘know your customer’ is a banking term] process…It has enabled a better understanding in reducing the number of delinquent loans” (S06).

    This was significant as they changed their approach to engage with the household, rather than the female only. This led to enhanced lending to women entrepreneurs, and was particularly important given the cultural context at play. Research had shown that lending to women, without the inclusion of the wider household, can destabilise family dynamics.

    Acknowledging a similar need in Pakistan, BCU academics used research to co-design a programme of ‘train the educator’ workshops to support SMEs in Pakistan. Educators in this context are now better equipped to instruct learners and SMEs in how to gain access to finance, and ensure sustainability of businesses and growth opportunities. This activity has so far resulted in the training of 87 SMEs leaders, 47% of whom reported increased turnover, with an estimated 236 jobs created as a result (S07).

    d. Practice and financial literacy in the UK

    Our research enabled Aston Reinvestment Trust Business Loans (ART) “to reposition our business in the light of the new Government start up loan programme… We have revised and better prepared our literature and website” (S08). This has assisted in informing potential applicants as to ‘what information is important’, helping guide entrepreneurs to provide key information then enables ART to more effectively evaluate business proposals. Its Chief Executive stated:

    “research carried out by academics at BCU, with ART, has informed policy and practice, specifically in relation to better preparing potential entrepreneurs at start-up and expansion stages” (S08).

    e. Providing a framework for social mobility through entrepreneurship education

    Working in collaboration with a UK national Housing association, our research led to a new (more nuanced) understanding and approach to supporting tenants when developing their entrepreneurship training needs. In addition, it led to a greater awareness of the role of the housing association within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, supporting entrepreneurship in some of the most deprived wards of Birmingham:

    “This better understanding helped inform our wider recognition of local enterprise needs and challenges facing our communities. As a result we have developed a more sensitive and tailored approach to community grant management and procurement within the New Initiatives Team, this has been particularly evident in relation to our delivery of the Hall Green Neighbourhood Network Scheme and Hall Green Families and Early Help” (S09).

    f. Inclusion of our best practice in leading EU guide for Entrepreneurship

    BCU’s work is showcased as a case study in the leading EU Framework for EE: EntreComp. Specifically, the case study advocated the experiential learning approach developed through BCU’s research and applied teaching guidance (S10). EntreComp has been widely adopted, globally, by entrepreneurship educators. In the UK, EntreComp is recommended by leading policy makers, and HE EE support networks, including Entrepreneurship Educators UK, and the National Centre for Entrepreneurship Education.

    Overall, the accumulated reach and significance of these diverse impacts, which are both qualitative and quantitative, is profound, influencing educators and businesses globally. They reflect the practice-focus of the institution, and its commitment to shape educational and societal outcomes beyond the BCU Business School.
    Impact date20112019
    Category of impactPublic Policy or Services impacts, Economic impacts