ALA’s Entrepreneurship Curriculum set to prove resilient in a turbulent year

This month ALA celebrates entrepreneurship in our community and network. While The Anzisha Prize  supports entrepreneurs on a wide scale across Africa, core to every ALA students’ journey at the academy is the Entrepreneurial Leadership (EL) course. The new academic year is in full swing and our EL department continues to nurture our young leaders’ ideas into viable enterprises.

Ssanyu Sematimba, designer and part of the EL department’s faculty, shares a few thoughts on entrepreneurship in our student body in the midst of a turbulent year.

 Why is entrepreneurship important and how is ALA’s EL course unique to any other?
Entrepreneurship is the key to the development of a country. Africa is beginning to take centre stage as one of the continents of growth and endless opportunity. The future of African prosperity lies in the hands of ethical entrepreneurial leaders.

Our EL program is designed to build the interpersonal and leadership skills that are essential for future agents of positive change. Through this program, students develop the mindset, approach, and skills necessary to be ethical entrepreneurial leaders on the African continent and beyond. The syllabus includes a variety of teaching methods, including team-based design challenges, guest speakers, mini-lectures, simulations and games, case studies and experiential learning.

The course uses a design thinking model called BUILD. BUILD is a human-centered design thinking approach and stands for Believe, Understand, Invent, Listen, and Deliver. It is one of the pillars of Entrepreneurial Leadership (EL) at ALA. BUILD initiates experiential learning and is maximized so that our students can become “agile thinkers who take a systemic, iterative approach to develop innovations that address the root causes of challenges.

What are some of the challenges that students have experienced in starting or maintaining SEs in the current uncertain environment and how is the EL department supporting students?
Students have been forced to adapt and change their business models accordingly (to the global health pandemic). The EL Department’s role is to coach students by guiding them into creating and adapting a business model that best serves the needs of its user group.

With the new academic year, how will the EL department ensure that the course is still delivered successfully in a time of online learning?
It is important for educators to continuously empathize with their students by understanding what they need, their behavioural patterns, interests, and so on. Once educators have this understanding it is imperative that they redesign the curriculum accordingly. This means that the curriculum will continuously change. The curriculum should never remain stagnant, it should be adapted and modified, tested on its user group, and refined accordingly. 

The Entrepreneurial department is continuously changing and adapting it’s curriculum accordingly. For example, we are currently designing online asynchronous/synchronous curriculum that enhances the teaching and learning experience for the student and the educator. We are looking at how we can adapt and make use of various online collaborative tools like Miro/Jamboard and Canvas. I am personally looking at how we can use design and design thinking to enhance the general learning experience as a whole. We are doing this because the pandemic has forced us into online teaching, we recognize that our students are tech-savvy and are able to maximize their learning experience online, and we are also aware that imagery and beautifully designed content is easier to consume.


We’re excited to continue hosting the South African Ideas Festival, and even more so for SAIF 2021 as it will be convened online.
SAIF 202 is an entrepreneurial development festival run by the ALA Bezos Scholars team. With the theme of “Unlocking Entrepreneurial Leadership Through Profitable Passions”, the festival will bring together 100 participants from multiple countries in teams of 3-5 members who have business ideas to serve their communities.

Bezos Scholars 2020

On campus, one of the student enterprises making waves is Element Technologies – a performance-focused digital marketing enterprise launched this year to help open up the academy’s student enterprise ecosystem to the digital world. They specialize in website design & development, data analytics, and technology-infused search engine optimization and operate within the ALA community and beyond.

The Element Technologies team