Many a time students are forced to read books they can hardly relate to. Their situations and conditions and those described in the books are so disparate that an attempt to implement anything outlined in the book proves futile. Many students and industrialists have falsely concluded that a divergence exist between academic syllabuses and an industrialist’s needs.
The same theories are taught to students across cultures; Probability theory, Supply and Demand, Game theory, Gaussian curve etc. Academicians should be able to amend these theories to reflect a country’s conditions. Sadly, it is this link that our academicians seem to have failed to make; they blindly follow the examples in these foreign books and forget that the conditions are not the same. So we end up criticising the course instead of the mode.
For many years, development planners and economists of the Bretton Woods Institutions and our development partners (or donor countries) faced similar problems. The assumption is that there is a one-size-fits-all strategy towards development. This, however, causes failure after failure of important projects and programmes and the loss of millions of dollars.
However, it is refreshing to know that some Ghanaians have come around to solving this problem that has become inimical to our development. Either through publications and/or their actions, some Ghanaians have realised that the status quo cannot remain. The need for change has never been greater. In Kuenyehia on Entrepreneurship (RDF Business Series, 2012; 671) by Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia with foreword by Sam Jonah, the author sought to bridge the gap between universal principles of entrepreneurship and localised requirements; it is a textbook on Chanaian entrepreneurship that puts known faces to achievements.
Elikem has written a book that deals with issues Ghanaian students can relate to. About principles they can apply within the environment they find themselves. He has carefully localised universal principles and made it accessible to the reader in ways that have never been done before. The book is divided into fourteen chapters, from Introduction to The Business Plan. Even in the introduction, where Elikem discusses the History and Development of Entrepreneurship, he still finds ways to make it Ghanaian; defining Entrepreneurship in the Ghanaian context and thus setting the tone for the book in general. In this chapter he discusses such pertinent issues as the challenges young Entrepreneurs and start-ups are likely to face.
Needless to say, all through this book, he makes examples of Ghanaian Entrepreneurs; he provides expositions on the Ghanaian government’s policies that have either helped or failed to help Ghanaian companies and Ghanaian Entrepreneurs. Are we not all tired of the Gates-Buffet-Dell examples? How many of us have not been put off by those names when we clearly know that the number of days it takes to open a business in the country these indiciduals come from is far lower than what we face as Ghanaians? How many of us have not been put off when we know that our interest rates have never fallen below 20% whereas in America banks sometimes charge as low as 0.5%? Thus, it is refreshing to learn how people we know, in our communities, have worked around these obstacles. It gives hope that it can be done. For instance, in Chapter Seven, Elikem discusses “Acquiring Financial Resources”. He discusses this along the lines of equity financing, debt financing, trade credit, government and donor sources of funding, and government policies and access to finance. The last chapter of the book is on developing business plans. The author took his time to elaborate on the requirements of a good business plan and what a business plan is supposed to do.
To further help the reader, at the end of each chapter is a case study and a set of questions on the case to foster discussion… Also provided are notes and references that the astute student will find useful for further reading.
The thesis that the private sector is the engine of growth is well-documented with evidence to prove the claim.
If the private sector is the engine required to zoom Ghana from the lower middle income status to a high-income status, then local entrepreneurs who wouldn’t repatriate their profits to other countries (through capital flight) and who have their skins-in-the-game (as Nassim Taleb will say) are the cyinders, pistons, spark plugs, valves, crankshafts, connecting rods, and sumps. The government only has to provide the right oil through its policies. Creating local entrepreneurs begins from an idea; an idea that is germane to the country and factors in its unique environment. This means localising textbooks like Elikem’s.
Kuenyehia on Entrepreneurship is a comprehensive text for students and those interested in the practicalities of entrepreneurship. It should be read, assimilated and implemented. Besides, unlike most other books where their authors were clearly inspired by reading philosophical works or the autobiographies and memoirs of Buffet and Co, this book has been written by one who walks his talk and practices his preach.
The author himself is an embodiment of the Ghanaian Entrepreneur Kuenyehia on Entrepreneurship is highly recommended.