2.1.2 ICT skill-building equips young entrepreneurs with tools to better manage their businesses.
ICT can benefit entrepreneurs in various and fundamental ways. A recent evaluation, highlighted below, found that in the HP LIFE program, ICT use correlated with increased income for both entrepreneurs and employees. Entrepreneurs in developing countries may need basic skills related to digital literacy and software use. Generating ideas on how to use telecommunication tools, operating computerized spreadsheets to record their business interactions, or using presentation software to publicize their company are all important additions of ICT to enterprise development. More advanced uses of ICT, such as creating a website, further enhance the skills of employees and entrepreneurs.
The global technology company HP worked with several leading education organizations to develop HP LIFE including:
- Micro-Enterprise Acceleration Institute (MEA-I): http://mea-i.org/
- Education Development Center (EDC): www.edc.org/
- ORT (Russia): www.ort.org
- United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO): www.unido.org
The curriculum focuses on the delivery of ICT and business skills using an experiential learning methodology. So far, trainings have taken place in 340 training centers in 49 countries across the globe. More than 1.2 million people have been reached through face-to-face training, access to ICT, and online activities since 2007. HP LIFE began as a computer-based program with classroom time but has since evolved into an online learning platform that is now available online free of charge to everyone who wants to improve business and ICT skills. The Education Development Center—one of the leading partners of HP LIFE eLearning, through the EQUIP3 program, completed an evaluation of the program from November 2011 through April 2012, examining its impact in China, India, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. The evaluation included a retrospective baseline with online surveys, interviews, and focus groups with current participants, trainers, and past participants. Evaluation was limited due to the fact that it was retrospective, non-experimental, and the modular nature of the curriculum meant that not all learners participated in all modules. Nevertheless, the outcome evaluation found that the program is effective in improving youth outcomes, is relevant to youth in developing countries, and benefits trainees in multiple ways:
- Increased incomes with a majority of participants reporting small to moderate income increase and one in five entrepreneurs reporting an increase of over 20 percent
- Improved business efficiency as the vast majority use basic ICT features for their job or business
- Increase in “soft” skills (e.g., communication, customer relations) and self-confidence
- Mentoring and encouragement found to correlate with reported income increase
- Technology plays an important but not necessarily “critically important” role and should be adapted to local context and infrastructure
At the same time, the evaluation found follow-up support (“bridging services”) to be missing.
For more information about HP LIFE, see http://www.life-global.org/en. To see the full report, visit http://idd.edc.org/resources/publications/technology-hp-life-entrepreneu....