If you ask a group of people what they think the most prestigious degree in business is, a vast majority of them will answer an MBA degree.
This is, without a doubt, the right answer—a Master of Business Administration degree is the most widely sought-after degree by business students as it impresses future employers, peers, and family members alike.
Africa, as a Whole, Is Being Left Behind
Ask yourselves one thing: how many African companies earn over $1 billion in revenue? Many experts guess that there are fewer than 100 companies on that list, while some will go to the extreme and claim zero companies hit the $1-billion annual mark.
The reality is that there are about 400 such companies that exist, and they’re growing at a misunderstood yet underestimated rate.
There’s no denying that the market scene in Africa as a whole is underdeveloped, but with the right technical know-how and degree to back it up, it’s not unimaginable to see a native African taking over and dominating the near-directionless world of commerce in Africa.
In general, there’s an unfulfilled need for business education in the entirety of Africa. And while business schools exist in the continent—and in abundance—many such schools don’t exactly meet the minimum requirements that a graduate needs to become successful in the marketplace.
What Do Young Africans Want from Business Programs?
The only question that remains is, are business schools fully prepared to provide their students with the knowledge they need? Based on a report by the Association of African Business Schools (AABS), some schools miss the mark. Below, you’ll find what most young Africans feel will help them become better entrepreneurs, employees, and decision-makers.
A DIY Approach
A 2014 report showed that sub-Saharan Africa has amongst the most entrepreneurial young people in the world. Many countries are also showing impressive economic growth, but unemployment is still on the rise, forcing the younger generation to bootstrap it and find work on their own.
The problem is that, traditionally, many business schools in Africa didn’t cater to the large portion of applicants whose aims are to become entrepreneurs. But thankfully, an increasing number of private trainers have established programs to help aspiring entrepreneurs realize their dreams and potentials.
In 2015, an entrepreneurial network in Africa launched an association (AAAE) that helped establish partnerships with international and local business schools in the hopes of creating a generation of go-getters.
A Womanpreneur Ecosystem
Unofficial entrepreneurial groups consisting only of women have sprouted up across Africa in recent years. These groups allow women to share their experiences, learn from seasoned entrepreneurs, and even apply for micro-credits to start their own business.
Having such an ecosystem in a business school can help women discover more than just what people learned on the fly.
Young people across Africa have become increasingly more aware of the social and environmental issues they have inherited from previous generations. The rising number of graduates who decide to stay put or return to their villages is evidence enough that they plan on using their knowledge to better their communities.
That’s not to say that a global scope on business-related topics is unnecessary, but in the short term, it’s not helping business students achieve their primary goals.
Business schools should place a greater emphasis on teaching students how to become more socially responsible and ethical in business as they can be legitimate ways to improve one’s business and living conditions, thus creating more opportunities for those surrounding them.
Short Classes, Preferably Online
Studies have shown that African business school applicants are put off by MBA degrees as they aren’t relevant to their final goals. In addition, MBA programs, in general, are far too long and time-restrictive to let students realize their potential without missing one or more class meetings.
Lately, there has been a shift toward shorter classes and even online classes that let students learn at their own pace and in their own time. Distant-learning options in Africa are limited, but international business schools like Nexford MBA and Liverpool University offer the flexibility young Africans desire to stay reach their academic goals while also taking the first steps in starting their own businesses.
A Rise of Demand and Unmet Potential of Business Programs in Africa
There is a clear rise in demand for business education in Africa, but the sad truth is that not many schools are prepared to provide students with the knowledge they’re looking for.
But by following the findings of a crucial report on the African youth, schools—both local and international alike—can meet the students’ unfulfilled demands and create a generation equipped with timeless and invaluable theoretical and practical experience.