Africa is brimming with talented entrepreneurs who lack the skills needed to start and run their own businesses. This challenge is being addressed by a new online learning platform launched by the UCT Graduate School of Business.
The programme aims to upskill and empower African entrepreneurs to start and run successful businesses in extremely challenging contexts.
The initiative has the potential to train hundreds of thousands of men and women across the continent within the next few years.
The “free-for-all” platform, dubbed GSB Hluma, is the result of more than 15 years of research and development and will be rolled out early this year.
Learning by doing
Walter Baets, director of the GSB and the lead developer on the project, said, “GSB Hluma will seek to germinate a new generation of individuals who are empowered and motivated to run better businesses,” he said.
Baets said that the platform is based on one key, very simple premise, that of learning by doing.
“We are placing the learning squarely with the learner,” he said. “Rather than giving them the expectation that someone will be ‘teaching’ them or ‘giving’ them anything. What they learn and how they learn it is up to them. The amount of effort they put in is what they will get out.”
New delivery system developed
To help reward this effort, the development team has created a novel, low-bandwidth delivery system to give learners, wherever they find themselves, the keys to their own empowerment.
GSB Hluma runs on Moodle – an open source learning platform – and has a powerful natural language engine to help learners navigate through the system by suggesting links and related content.
How it works
At the core of the system is a database of more than 300 traditional business concepts, everything from return on investment to market segmentation.
These come with an explanation of what they mean and case studies to illustrate how they have been successfully applied.
Learners are then invited to take these concepts and apply them in whatever context they are working in, to learn by doing, while reflecting on the process.
In a first step to disseminate this new learning tool, the GSB has teamed up with the African Management Initiative (AMI) to roll out the system across Africa.
Where to join
Entrepreneurs wanting to access GSB Hluma must first sign up to AMI, which is free and can be accessed at www.africanmanagers.org/join-ami.