Entrepreneur Discovery Program
by Dr. Jerry Dean Epps, (Ph.D.)
of RECIPE FOR HOPE
Why Entrepreneur Discovery?
People can differ greatly from one another in their inclinations and natures. Some are artists by nature, others entertainers by nature, and still other are natural teachers. To be sure, not all are cut out for business, and even fewer are entrepreneurs by nature. But it is entrepreneurs who create new businesses. New businesses lead to job creation and increase in tax revenue. We need entrepreneurs!
It is entrepreneurs who see business opportunities where others do not. They have the drive to put the idea into practice and make a profit. It is not easy to make a profit, but entrepreneurs find a way to make enterprises profitable. When a business is profitable, others share in the benefits too. Employees get hired, merchants have new products and services to sell, the banks have more deposits and can expand their investments, salaries are spent at local stores, and on and on the chain goes. Every economy needs entrepreneurs if a strong economy is to develop.
Entrepreneur Discovery Program, while teaching skills for all who attend a class, is designed to discover the ones who are entrepreneurs by nature. This is a practical program for discovering entrepreneurs. After they are discovered they can be encouraged, coached, and funded to create micro and small businesses. Beyond that it is difficult to predict with certainty. But the future looks bright for a society regularly identifying and then supporting young entrepreneurs.
Basically, students qualify for levels of training that increase in complexity and sophistication. Primary requirement for admission to next higher level of training is to have successfully completed the homework projects. These projects demonstrate some degree of mastery of skills and concepts taught in the previous class. There are no written tests. Instead, students must do, and document, the hands-on projects assigned at the end of each level of training.
Briefly stated: do the homework projects from Level I class if you want to qualify for admittance to the Level II class.
The discovery process will teach basic skills to many adults who live in poverty, but more importantly, it will gradually reveal the few who are natural entrepreneurs, the future makers and shakers, the ones motivated and capable enough to create and lead serious economic revitalization in the poverty areas where they live. Once these individuals are discovered, the sky is the limit as to what poverty eradicating projects they will undertake.
The process of finding those rare individuals unfolds like this. Offer a free 3 day Level I class. Assuming students will be from poverty areas; provide a free noontime meal to help motivate class attendance(maybe a snack in morning, but the main meal in afternoon after class is finished for the day). To keep the classroom manageable, have about 25 in this 3 day Level 1 class. If their homework demonstrates THAT THEY CAN APPLY what they learned in the first level class, they can come back for the Level 2 class to be held in the near future. Similarly, if their homework demonstrates ABILITY TO APPLY, they are invited back for the Level 3 class ….. and so on through Level 5. To “demonstrate THEY CAN APPLY WHAT THEY LEARNED” means to do, and document, and submit electronically, the homework projects that were given at the last class.
For several reasons everything is done electronically: 1) for ease of sending varying amounts of information long distances (many times the “teacher” or homework reviewer will have moved on to another geographic location and won’t be in the same physical location as the student, 2) for speed of sending information long distances, 3) to create a permanent record, 4) to acquaint students with, and give them practice using, modern day information sharing practices common in the business world.
Each class is free, but students can come back for more training only if they have demonstrated THEY CAN APPLY the skills taught in the previous class. Documented home work must be submitted within the announced time frame after the class is finished. This time frame can range from 2 to 4 weeks as is determined appropriate. That way, plans can be made for conducting the next level class. We are searching for those people who are motivated and capable. They must do the homework projects from the class they have just completed. Therefore, to be in the training, they must have, or have use of, a cellphone, tablet, or computer or similar device over which they can send text and photos.
There are 6 core topics taught in the course. While the same 6 topics are taught at each level, they are taught at a new depth on each level. The learning is increasingly sophisticated and challenging at each new level. The students won’t be bored and their skill and insight will improve significantly with mastery of each new level. What the student learns in a new level builds upon what they learned in a lower level. They move from basic skills to advanced skills as they progress up through the 5 levels.
Here are some of the areas to be covered: how to select the right microbusiness for you, researching your market, developing new markets, write a business plan, grow food, bookkeeping, handling money, public speaking, water collection and purification, write a report and write an ad, computer skills, and personal traits needed for success. The homework is designed to demonstrate level of mastery of the topics and to give the student hands-on practice at applying the skills.
Many will begin the program and attend the first class. Depending on natural aptitude for being an entrepreneur, and degree of motivation and ability to work hard, some will not finish the course. Several or many may drop out. My estimate is, 30-35% qualify to come back for 2nd level class; then 50% of that number will likely qualify to return for the 3rd level class. Then for the 4th and 5th level classes the percent is higher for returning number. Probably 75% to 85% or more at the higher levels will qualify to come back. Applying these percentages: we start with 100, drop to 30, then drop to 15, then 12. That means 12 out of the original 100 completed the course.
For example, if you want to end up with 100 highly motivated entrepreneurs, start with 800 at the bottom level, and end up with approximately 96 completing the 5th Level. Good. Now we have 96 very motivated new entrepreneurs! The material for the course, conducted in 5 sequential classes, will be straight forward and well prepared. Skills and concepts are laid out sequentially, and presented in a way that reinforces previously learned skills and concepts. Students become more and more motivated to do well as they advance through the levels. With increased motivation to succeed, participating in the class becomes more significant for them. The classroom experience is also more fun for them. The students connect more deeply with each other. Bonds of respect and bonds of friendship will be formed between students that will serve them well for the rest of their lives. Entrepreneurs have been discovered and given basic training. They are ready to go to work to develop microbusinesses that will strengthen their local economy.