PhD students improving global entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurship article for PhD students in Birmingham

Our PhD researchers are shaping the future of entrepreneurship for some of the world’s most developing demographics. From building economic success and growth in areas of sub Saharan Africa to assessing the experiences of Black and Chinese entrepreneurs in Birmingham, Birmingham City University’s postgraduate researchers are shining a light on one of the world’s most exciting and unpredictable industries.

Helping Uganda’s entrepreneurs

Can entrepreneurship be taught? That is the key question Dennis Aguma is tackling on his research project. Originally from Uganda, Dennis’ research is informed by his own endeavour, the National Association of Student Enterprises (NASE). “When I was a student at Kingston University, I was made President of their Entrepreneurial Society,” Dennis explains. “I saw first-hand the impact of entrepreneurial activities on the students, but in terms of full-time studies, very little was taught.”

Uganda is the world’s most entrepreneurial country, but very few start-ups survive. “Peoples’ businesses do not flourish because there is a skills gap,” Dennis explains. “The education system is not equipped to help our students survive in the world of entrepreneurship. This led to the creation of NASE, which now has five different enterprises at some of Uganda’s biggest universities, hosts annual events and ensures students leave with both a degree and the soft skills every entrepreneur needs.”

Improving agricultural entrepreneurship in Malawi

Another PhD student researching Africa is James Jinazali. His research project focuses on Malawi, which has one of the lowest gross national incomes and poorest per capital income growth in the world. With Malawi’s main source of income coming from agriculture, James’ research focuses in on this specific area. “Agriculture is a key driver, but failure to direct adequate finance and technology to farm workers results in out-of-date practices, low production and more,” he explains. “Small and medium agriculture entrepreneurs (SMAEs)’ access to finance and technology remains a major challenge.”

Lamin Daffeh balances his PhD studies with his own international consultancy, The AIDER Group and charity, Fresh Start Foundation. He continues to break down barriers to children’s rights to education in his native Gambia, opening a successful school which now houses nearly 430 students.

Birmingham – a global city

Our students are also assessing entrepreneurship closer to home. Researcher Xiping Shinnie’s project uses her past experience in linguistics and cultural studies – where she worked with several major universities in China and the UK - to examine entrepreneurship for ethnic minorities in Birmingham. Xiping is focusing on the emerging trend of Black and Chinese minority migrant entrepreneurs breaking out of their co-ethnic markets into mainstream economies in Birmingham, specifically for its broad demographic and global appeal.  

Xiping plans to develop a theoretical framework of migrant entrepreneurship from the perspective on constructions of cultural identities, establishing positive interpretations of migration and culture through entrepreneurship.

Making a difference to industry

James’ project will identify and examine viable models of financing SMAEs’ acquisition of agricultural equipment. “Access to finance for these entrepreneurs will provide them with modern farming technologies, having a positive impact on farm productivity and profitability,” James says. “It is a key step towards eradicating poverty.”

Dennis is conducting on-the-ground research in Uganda to see if he can add value to entrepreneurship. “My PhD explores entrepreneurship education and explicit / implicit ways of teaching it,” he explains. “I want to equip young people to be entrepreneurial and plug the gaps from a contextual perspective, where not much academic literature is available in countries like Uganda.”

Keeping close contact with Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, Xiping’s project is designed to help government bodies to produce effective policies and strategies specifically supporting minority businesses to break out of their niche market. It is also hoped that initiatives and support agencies are formed in assisting the minority enterprises not only to enter into the mainstream market but also to better integrate into the mainstream economy.     

All four of our postgraduate researchers are making a difference to communities, countries and the world of entrepreneurship.