Science and entrepreneurship has a common ground from which women could exploit the substantial benefits of embracing both fields simultaneously for the sake of personal growth.
Africa is seeing an increase in academic professionals who also double as entrepreneurs in the very field they study in. From a distance the two fields are completely unrelated, with one focusing on research, laboratory tests and computing results while the other is concerned with marketing strategies, profitability and bookkeeping.
Women scientists say it is fulfilling to them to have a place where they can practically implement what they can develop in the lab. This increasing interest in science of entrepreneurship had resulted to the redrafting of science courses in Universities so that it includes an element of entrepreneurship. Without such adjustment, scientists are compelled to graduate with doctorates and then return to sit behind the desk and study commerce.
Lauren Seymour argues in her blog “Science Pub” that the similarities in the two trades cannot be over emphasised.
“At their core, entrepreneurs and scientists both create and test hypothesis and develop solution to problems. The challenges faced are also paralleled in both career paths from funding to communication,” she reckons.
The Africa University of Zimbabwe has introduced a course called Master of Science in Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Creativity. In the course outline, it is described as “a very practical programme aimed at producing entrepreneurally minded graduates who will appreciate the vital role that innovative and creative entrepreneurs play in today’s society.”
The aim of this programme, according to the prospectus, is to prepare students to develop insights that will help them discover and create entrepreneurial opportunities and the expertise to successfully initiate, launch, manage and grow their own ventures through start-up entrepreneurial projects which could be helpful to Africa’s competitive and dynamic economies.
Talking about using science to develop the economy, the African Union Commission welcomed a document titled The Science Technology and Innovation Strategy for Africa which outlined the variables that make science so intrinsic to the development of economies.
Some of the priority areas under the umbrella of science include eradication of hunger and achieving food security, prevention and control of diseases, communication (physical and intellectual mobility) and wealth creation. It also lists the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation as a necessary pillar to achieve the science and technology innovation strategy.
No doubts, Africa’s women scientists have a role to play in the area of wealth creation through entrepreneurship. If they get involved in entrepreneurs that speak more about their academic profession, such as private surgeries and science collages, they are even better placed to succeed. The document is on point when it turns to African governments, calling upon them to create enabling environment for science, technology and innovation. If the request is to be implemented, women scientist, who are victims of gender bias would also benefit and venture into innovative means, including entrepreneurship.
One of the role models in this field is Rapelang Rabana, a South African technologist with Honours in Computer Science. She co-founded Yeigo Communications, which was SA’s first development company that offered free VoIP mobile services. This earned Rapelang a place in Forbes 30 Under 30 Africa’s best Young Entrepreneurs and Oprah Magazine’s O Power List 2012. Nagwa Abdel Meguid of Egypt studied genetics and went on to establish a highly successful children’s clinic. Dorcas Muthoni is founder and Chief Executive Officer of Openworld LTD a highly successful specialist computer software company in Kenya. It is now a leading eGovernment and business software services firm. The list is endless.
Of these women. Forbes writes: “these are just a few of the African scientists making the world a better place.”