Open Access Capstone
Entrepreneurship education and training (EET) has become more prominent on the international development agenda as a strategy for inclusive growth and poverty alleviation. Proponents of EET argue that it has reached marginalized groups - such as unemployed youth - in non-formal education settings, equipping them with the skills, mindsets, and knowledge to secure better economic outcomes for themselves. However, critics assert that the human capital focus of EET reflects a neoliberal orientation that essentially glosses over structural problems and shifts the burden of development onto the target populations of such programs. This tension underlies the dilemma of development work, whereby the urgency to “do” or find technical, actionable, and general solutions to complex and specific problems leads to scenarios where any intervention is deemed better than none. Along with that, the absence of criticality increases the likelihood that such responses fail, miss the mark completely, or have far worse unintended consequences.
Therefore, in light of the increasing volume of EET programs, it is imperative to interrogate how they intersect with people, in specific lived contexts, with heterogeneous practices, and varying understandings of development. Using a case study of an EET program for out-of-school youth, I will illustrate how EET can simultaneously serve multiple agendas, from integrating individuals into the global capitalist economy to enabling target populations to fulfill their own aspirations and meet their own social and economic objectives. Importantly, the case study indicates that individuals and communities do not unquestioningly receive education programs like EET.