Cathie Wright, Assistant Professor in Management in the School of Management and Languages, has been working in Senegal to incorporate Entrepreneurship into the Masters programme in Mathematical Sciences, taught as part of the AIMS programme.
The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a network of graduate institutes with centres in Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa, as well as in Senegal. It was founded in 2003 by Neil Turok, a South African who now directs the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.
AIMS works to draw bright young Africans into mathematical and scientific careers. Mathematics requires relatively little equipment, yet underpins most of modern life, is fundamental to the rest of science and without mathematical training Africans will not be able to maximize the value of new technologies. AIMS is also key to Next Einstein, a project to promote science and technology in Africa and bring together African scientists who may be working in isolation or abroad.
Natural individual entrepreneurs
Cathie has been working to draft the entrepreneurship section of the Master's programme and has herself travelled out to Senegal to teach the course. She says that the students she met were natural individual entrepreneurs, many of who have had to develop small businesses to support their studies, but that gaining a wider concept of business enterprise will allow them to take their ideas and develop them to the benefit of their communities and the wider economy.
“The young people I met in delivering this section of the AIMS degree course came from all over Africa representing many different countries, all of them have a strong drive to self-improvement, and the business ideas they brought forward were socially oriented and aimed at answering very real local problems in a socially and environmentally sound manner.
“Where they did need support, which this new section of their studies will help, was in taking initial small-scale local business ideas to the next stage. By providing students with the business and entrepreneurial tools which are readily available to their colleagues and competitors in developed countries and placing them in the context of Africa, the students will have a strong foundation from which they can develop their ideas in a global marketplace.”
Cathie stressed that as part of the programme AIMS will continue to monitor students over coming years to see how they are able to use the information and to judge where further course developments are required.