At the heart of many successful ventures lie strong, mutually beneficial partnerships. In an entrepreneurship education and training program, such partnerships can provide vital wrap-around services, i.e. supplemental program elements that work in tandem with the core curriculum[1]. To support participants, program partners may contribute their time, financial resources, expertise, and access to their own networks.

Research indicates that young entrepreneurs value this kind of support. In a global survey, Youth Business International (2011) found that 55% of young entrepreneurs agreed that non-financial support contributed to their business’ success, while 84% attributed a greater sense of confidence running their enterprises to that support[2]. Therefore, an economic simulation centered on developing students’ entrepreneurial propensity – such as ALA’s Student Enterprise Program (SEP) – should incorporate these complementary wrap-around services. Bringing in the ‘real world’, in the form of professionals from outside the school, fortifies the authenticity of the simulation.

Student enterprises at ALA enjoy the support and counsel of not only their faculty coaches but also the expertise and guidance of Boards. The role of the Boards in the SEP is to provide advice, mentorship, and guidance on good governance and best practices to the enterprise team, primarily through the stipulated Board meetings. The primary objectives of the Boards are to support the vision and mission of the enterprise, and to support the executive team in the setting, monitoring, and achievement of the enterprise’s goals. Naledi Rasekoala, who serves on the boards of House and Riyadha, highlighted the importance of these corporate partnerships, noting that, “The students get real life business strategy input and advice around their enterprises, so they can learn in a practical way.

The SEP experience allows students to fail forward in a safe environment. Yet, one might rightly wonder if the learning is taking place in a bubble and, therefore, not adequately preparing students for “the real world.” Enabling partners from global corporations, the public sector, and non-profit organizations to contribute meaningfully to student ventures is one way to mitigate this risk.

See here for how you, too, can make an impact on African’s young innovators as a voluntary advisor.

[1] Valerio et al, p.48

[2] Global Youth Entrepreneurship Survey 2011 Accessed January 30, 2019.

*This post is an excerpt from an upcoming publication for teachers seeking to establish student-run enterprises in a simulated on-campus economy.