Entrepreneurship elements should be taught early, Zetech don advises

Peter Berachesebe Kibas is a professor of entrepreneurship and management and Dean of the School of Business and Economics at Zetech University.
Peter Berachesebe Kibas is a professor of entrepreneurship and management. He is also the Dean of the School of Business and Economics at Zetech University.

What was your journey to where you are now?

My journey to professorship started with my first assignment as a high school teacher employed by the Teacher Service Commission.

This was after my training at Kenyatta College (present day Kenyatta University) in 1974. I had a Canadian Business Education instructor, a Professor Porozny who had such passion for his students and this made me admire him very much.

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The burning desire to scale higher heights in my teaching profession is what propelled me to pursue further education; beginning with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, Canada; then my Master’s degree and finally the Doctorate degrees, both from the University Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA. 

These were all obtained within a span of 21 years as I was raising my family while at the same time working to support them.

After my PhD, I switched jobs from a Deputy Registrar (Principal Administrative Officer) and went into teaching at Moi University, in January 1996.

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That was my starting point as a full time lecturer in my teaching career at the university.

With hard work, determination and juggling a number of activities – teaching, research, consultancy, presentation of research papers in conferences, and publications, I rose through the ranks of a lecturer, senior lecturer, associate professor and finally to full time professor in 2006.

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How is the title professor viewed in Kenya?

A professor, by virtue of having earned that title through many years of rigorous study, teaching in the university, conducting research and disseminating information on their findings and publishing of their works, are seen as senior and respected members of the community and the country; besides political and religious leaders.

They are expected to advise other community leaders, professionals, practitioners, policy makers and the public on general matters and particularly in their fields of specialization. 

Their opinions are usually taken seriously; once one has spoken other people often make reference to what their findings.

Why are you passionate about teaching business and entrepreneurship?

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My vision and goal in life has always been shaped by my Christian faith. One particular passage that stands out for me is where Jesus told his disciples to go out and make disciples and to teach what Jesus had taught them. And that is exactly my philosophy – to empower others so that they experience a positive mind shift.

Entrepreneurship involves the transformation of the mind to adopt an attitude of, “Yes, I can and nothing is impossible”. 

Teaching entrepreneurship is a way of empowering others to be innovative and creative, and it involves coaching, mentoring and counselling.

Entrepreneurship empowers an individual to think strategically how to live a fulfilling life while seeking opportunities and being passionate about bringing change.

How do you ensure that students are being taught relevant courses?

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We encourage our faculty to apply a combination of methodologies and learning approaches in order to blend theory and practice.

To achieve all rounded learning, we have encouraged our faculty at Zetech to make use of multimedia, case study analysis, problem based research in the community and in small and medium businesses, use of guest speakers and visits to industry among others.

Students are guided and assisted to carry out practical projects that involve engaging with industry and business.

This is followed by students presenting individual field based reports such as bankable business plans and strategic plans among other practical solutions.  This forms part of the teaching, examinations and monitoring and evaluation.

Is entrepreneurship inborn or is it taught in school?

Entrepreneurship is a way of life.

This is attested to through myriad of examples of successful individuals globally who apply entrepreneurial mindsets in their occupations. 

Hence, it has elements of both inborn as well as environmental nurturing and learning. My recommendation is that entrepreneurship elements should be taught progressively from pre-primary school all the way to university so as to develop and nurture the entrepreneurial mindset throughout the growth stages of an individual.

This may also ensure the development of a positive mindset of innovativeness, creativity, risk-taking, assertiveness, hard work with a passion and goal or achievement orientation.

You are an expert in business research and innovation. How vital is research and innovation in courses like business and entrepreneurship?

In order to alleviate key challenges facing the country such as the spiralling unemployment rates, disease and poverty, we need to create job opportunities as well as produce sufficient goods and services to satisfy these needs.

Industrialisation (which includes modern farming using technology) is one sure strategy of meeting these challenges.  Research and innovation are proven strategies that will lead to discovery and expansion of opportunities in the use of technology and the production of goods and services that can improve the lives of citizens.

This will not only create opportunities for employment but also to the generation of wealth – hence poverty alleviation.

The government together with her development partners should, therefore, provide sufficient finances resources to all the universities (public and private) for research and training in entrepreneurial innovation and technology.

What plans does Zetech have with regards to research and innovation and how will students be supported in this?

Our university has set up a research directorate headed by a director of research to spearhead our research initiatives.  Under this department, we are continually conducting training of our faculty and students on various aspects of research; we also hold an annual research and innovation international conferences.

This year’s conference, dubbed Sustainable Innovations Conference will be held on September 12 and 13, 2019.

To inculcate a research mindset, all our students undergo at least one study unit in research that involves both theory and conducting of actual research in the field; this is followed by the presentation of results to a panel of examiners.

We have also established an International Centre for Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technology Development, which gives students and faculty opportunity for innovation as an incubator and is expected to act as a focal point with industry and business and the institution.

How are you ensuring that the degrees that you offer are of good quality?

To ensure quality and relevance of our degrees, first of all we have engaged qualified and experienced faculty; secondly we benchmark with the best universities locally and globally.

All our curricula are also reviewed regularly after every cycle of training.

This exercise involves working with key stakeholders, relevant practitioners/professionals and also academicians from other institutions of higher learning.

Use of external examiners who not only examine the scripts but also evaluate our curricula and give valuable suggestions for continuous improvement is also very helpful.

In addition, the University has entered into several partnerships for all rounded training of our graduates. These include: The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Kiambu Chapter, Samchi group of Companies and Huawei Technologies among others.

This is so as to provide students and faculty with the needed industrial and business experience through internships and exchange programmes.

Your parting shot?

One should begin with the fear of God followed by a vision to achieve by pursuing excellence in one’s life in all endeavours they are engaged in.  Developing a focused entrepreneurial mindset is necessary for success.  

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EntrepreneurshipPeter Berachesebe KibasZetech University.JobsCareers