The African Speakers Bureau is an idea that was developed into an initiative when several academics and university leaders met in 2022. The vision is to create an African Higher Education (HE) context where staff and students are better equipped to become international employees and job creators. They recognized the capacity building potential which could arise from sharing their own experiences and expertise as well as that of others. It has been developed into a program of virtual events that give staff and students the opportunity to hear and learn from a wide spectrum of professionals and leaders helping to build towards achieving the best possible outcomes for individuals, their educational institutions and wider society in the areas of enterprise, entrepreneurship and leadership.  This initiative gives students opportunities to learn and freely share their concerns and ideas as they attend some of the selected sessions.
Specifically, the founders, through the project, aim to strengthen capability and capacity by bringing together individuals who are willing to share their expertise for the benefit of Africa. The bureau aims to encourage enterprise, entrepreneurship and better-quality leadership as part of home-grown solutions to some of Africa’s well documented economic and social challenges. The 2023 discussions series has been designed as a year-long pilot programme to develop and refine ideas related to the whole initiative. There will be two meetings most months via an online platform. The initial participants will be staff and students from two institutions – Southern African Nazarene University in Eswatini – with Dr Faith Mlotsa-Mngomezulu as the coordinator and University of Ilorin in Nigeria with Professor Peter Adeoye in the lead. At the end of the year, students will be tested through quizzes and other assessment forms and an award ceremony will take place in December. The project will be open to additional universities as it develops during the year.
The Universities Enterprise, Entrepreneurship & Leadership Discussion Series,’ was held on the 26th of January 2023 with a focus on lecturers in the 2 pilot universities to understand the definition of entrepreneurship which is normally confused with that of business. The discussion was centered on the conceptual model of the essence of being an entrepreneurial educator in as far as practices, identity and values are concerned. Other related issues were also included. The African Speakers Bureau’s first event was a huge success with a promising future in identifying gaps and how best to fill them for the benefit of university staff, students (who are mainly in the youth cohort) and the employment sector at large as per the vision, ‘An African higher education (HE) context where our students are better equipped to become international employees and job creators.’
  • Outlined the characteristics of an entrepreneur which include flexibility, volunteering, hardworking, creativity and innovation just to mention but a few.                                                
  • Checking the curriculum content in the entrepreneurship programs to determine how far it is truly representative of the appropriate curricula in terms of content, skills, transmission mode and accuracy of facts.
  • A suggestion that each course in all degree programmes should have an entrepreneurship and ICT component to enable students to realize the dimensions of entrepreneurship in their disciplines and specialized areas. An example in medicine was given where students could identify the kind of entrepreneurship that they can pursue. The same would apply to other specialist areas like Agriculture, Music and Dance, Graphic Designing, Psychology and so on.
  • It was emphasized that with the 4th industrial revolution spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, ICT-driven workspaces are now ubiquitous. Therefore, as students are taught using ICT-driven tools and workspaces, they also learnt and acquire ICT skills which are an indispensable aspect in today’s workplaces. This is the same reason why blended learning should stay as opposed to going back to the face-to-face mode after the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The need to encourage the youths to do projects by themselves guided by institutions for them to have an idea of what they could upon graduation in the workplace or when they start their own businesses.
  • One of the major issues is that students should be able to make income for a living and sustainability out of the start-ups and enterprises. They should be encouraged to work together through pulling their resources together during resource mobilization and share operational responsibilities for them to succeed.
  • The African Speakers Bureau realized that it would be a good opportunity after building a track record to start grant proposal writing with the intention to mobilize funds to do much bigger and better things in as far as supporting students is concerned because some students have brilliant ideas that require funding. Most of the students are youths with a lot of brilliant ideas, potential and energy to do a lot that can have a huge impact in society in general.
  • It was noted that, for entrepreneurship to result in the expected impact, it should be student- centered under the guidance of their lecturers as facilitators to make sure that they come up with ideas to create some enterprises. 1) All this would be brought for the youth hence their struggle to find jobs after they finish school.
It is a great honour and priviledge for the Global Quality Assurance Association (GQAA), to have its Director – Dr Violet Makuku, as part of the lined up keynote speakers for this important Strategic Research Convention (26th-28th October 2023). Speakers for this event, organized by the Corporate Institute of Strategic Research in Abuja, Nigeria, are from across the globe, i.e., Nigeria, Ghana, India, the UK and the USA. I am always committed to share the message on the central role that research plays in our daily lives, workplaces, institutions, organizations and government departments. 
In all the engagements that I have had so far, and for more than 12 years, I always tell people that at the centre of everything we do and at the centre of Quality Assurance (QA), should be research in the form of i) a situational analysis ii) a needs analysis iii) an assessment & evaluation, iv) fact finding, etc to establish the real state of affairs on the ground as opposed to dealing with assumptions, perceptions, unproven facts that can lead to a waste of resources (i. financial, ii. time & iii. human, etc). #researchconvention #qualityassurance #keynotespeaker #qualityleadership
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