MANILA, August 13, 2005
 (STAR) By Marie Adeline C. Kalalo And Maritza A. David - In recent years, there has been heightened interest in entrepreneurship programs or related business courses. In the Philippines, the number of enrollees in entrepreneurship undergraduate degree programs increased from 7,166 in 2001 to 9,466 students in 2003. The National Capital Region accounted for the majority, representing nearly 20% of the total number of enrollees.

Following this growth in interest, schools have taken a closer look at the curriculum of business-related courses. From general courses on corporate management and then subject offerings on entrepreneurship, a student is now able to take entrepreneurship as a specialization under a degree in business management or business administration.

Institutions with full curricular and subject offerings for a specialization in entrepreneurship include De La Salle University, Philippine School of Business Administration, Colegio de San Juan de Letran, Philippine Christian University, Technological University of the Philippines, Assumption College, and St. Scholastica’s College.

Majoring In Entrepreneurship

In these colleges and universities, the curriculum for a degree with a major in entrepreneurship has subjects that extensively train students in the nuances of starting a business. However, a student must first decide what enterprise he or she wants to enter into.

"Schools with a specialization in entrepreneurship carry courses such as agri-business entrepreneurship, entrepreneurship in services, and entrepreneurship in the processing industry. These subjects differentiate one entrepreneurial venture from the other and are considered the foundations of entrepreneurial study," said Christina Banastao, chairman of Assumption College’s Entrepreneurial Management program.

Knowing what industry to specialize in, however, does not spare the aspiring entrepreneur from start-up difficulties. There is no formula to guarantee the success of all business ventures, as each business encounters unique challenges. There are, however, fundamental principles for starting up a business. Such fundamentals are beneficial to would-be entrepreneurs in anticipating and addressing these difficulties they might come across.

Banastao further states that entrepreneurs are most concerned about the difficulties in capital sourcing , business plan development, and marketing strategies. Entrepreneurship programs address these difficulties with courses on production and operation management for small- and medium-sized enterprises, fund sourcing, programmed development, industry research, risk management, and marketing management. These courses are designed with the assumption that the individual is responsible primarily for getting the business off the ground and making sure that the business grows.

While there is general agreement that the core management courses offered in traditional business programs are essential for success in any business career, there are fundamental differences between business principles applied to new ventures and those applied to large corporations.

"For students specializing in entrepreneurship, corporate-based courses are also discussed but not as extensively as in a Business Administration degree, which presupposes that a company is already established. Entrepreneurship programs instead choose to focus on subjects that will aid students in acquiring the resources that they will manage later on. Business entry is fundamentally different from business management. Thus, courses and programs in entrepreneurship education focus on early lifecycle development challenges, particularly those related to a start-up such as opportunity recognition, market entry, protecting intellectual property, the legal requirements of new businesses, and severe resource constraints.

Delfin Mauricio, head of the Entrepreneurial Department of St. Scholastica’s College, explains that corporate-based subjects are still included in their school’s curriculum for students majoring in entrepreneurship, as he believes that small-scale businesses would later grow into bigger companies.

Aside from offering specialized subjects, the entrepreneurial program requires students to establish and operate a business for a few months. Prior to the pilot business operation, the student must conduct extensive market research. During the course of business operations, these students document their business transactions, and submit a complete financial report. At the end of six months, students report on the growth of their company, and discuss the factors that contributed to their business’ success or failure. Some students, having seen the benefits of being self-employed, opt to continue their business.

Degree In Entrepreneurship

Given the advantages of business program that offer a major in entrepreneurship, the government encourages colleges and universities to formulate entrepreneurship program, citing the possibilities of maximizing the potential of entrepreneurial education. With this, certain schools have designed degree programs for students with a strong entrepreneurial inclination and who possess excellent leadership skills.

Entrepreneurs and chief executives have supported this initiative by expressing the country’s need for a program that genuinely addressed entrepreneurial formation and education.

This has led to the creation of the Bachelor of Science degree in Entrepreneurship Management. The Commission on Higher Education estimates that there are nearly 70 colleges and universities offering degree programs in entrepreneurship management.

These colleges and universities have developed the bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship that emphasizes small and medium scale enterprise development. Students are trained in the different stages of business development, from identifying market opportunities to setting up, operating and sustaining a business. The curriculum includes core subjects, as well as those in management, business administration, entrepreneurship, and personal formation. Each student is challenged to integrate these key points as they complete their course requirements.

This entrepreneurship degree carries a curriculum focused on experiential learning. Most faculty adopt the case study and problem-oriented teaching approach in introducing students to actual business situations. Aside from classroom learning, students are exposed to various business organizations by observing company operations.

Miriam College, for instance, has ensured a support program for the practical training aspect of the degree in entrepreneurship by partnering with various professional organizations such as the Center for Culinary Arts, Philippine Trade and Training Center, the Bureau of Domestic Trade and Promotion, and the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions. Miriam has also partnered with Delaware University to offer their student a summer program in New Jersey, USA that present a global perspective on entrepreneurship and exposure to American companies and how they operate.

Masters In Entrepreneurship

As the students go on to become entrepreneurs, many seek to enhance the services they offer to their clientele. Even more established businesses explore new ways to be cost-efficient, increase productivity, and maximize capital. In 1999, the Asian Center for Entrepreneurship of the Asian Institute of Management launched an 18-month graduate program–the Master in Entrepreneurship.

ACE requires an applicant for ME to have a registered business operating for at least one year. Entrepreneurs are tasked to apply the theories they learned in class in their existing businesses. ACE evaluate its students by gauging the success of each implemented theory and of the enterprise as a whole.

The ME program is the highest degree currently available in the Philippines for aspiring and established entrepreneurs.

Aside from formal degree programs, short courses or seminars on starting up SMES are given by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, Philippine Trade and Training Center, and other government and non-government organization. These courses have a time frame of anywhere between three days and six months, and are categorized to fit specific industry concerns of various entrepreneurs.

With these programs in place, budding entrepreneurs are able to obtain needed training to help their businesses thrive and flourish.

(Reprinted from the Entrepreneurship Issue 2004 of The SGV Review)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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