City, University of London to lead international programme to support employability and entrepreneurship for students

British Council project will promote increased opportunities, industrialisation, and closer relationships between the UK and Sub-Saharan African universities.

A new innovative programme, led by the Business School (formerly Cass), will unite universities from across the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa to develop employability and entrepreneurship opportunities.

Funded by the British Council, City, University of London – alongside the University of Nairobi and ChangeSchool – is part of the Centre of Excellence that will be delivering the Innovation for African Universities (IAU) Programme.

The exciting 18-month project will initially aim to improve the prospects of employability in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa by funding partnerships between universities in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa. This will ensure that skills are developed to help build industries, companies, products, and services, while supporting the internationalisation of universities in both continents, who continue to support overseas initiatives.

Universities with expertise in designing and delivering activities that support entrepreneurship engagement by students, graduates and faculty were asked by the British Council to apply to be the centre of excellence for the project, with City and its consortium partners selected among 32 final candidates.

The project will be steered by Professor Sam Kamuriwo, with support from Dr Sara Jones and Professor Harry Scarbrough, with the hope that projects involving as many as 100 universities and organisations in their entrepreneurial ecosystems can be supported by the end of April 2023.

Professor Kamuriwo, Principal Investigator for the project and Professor of Strategy and Innovation at the Business School, believes that it is also important to create more genuine relationships with universities as part of the project.

“This follows the University’s recent history of involvements in supporting innovation in entrepreneurial eco-systems in Africa. This project creates further sizable and significant impact in African universities in terms of understanding their innovation needs and providing relevant intervention with measurable impact.

“We want to demonstrate advances in student achievement; in terms of being able to create companies that create employment. In the long-term, I want there to be an international network of universities in Africa and develop education and research partnerships.

“This project allows the Business School to demonstrate the manner in which we can imprint our stated values. We need to lead by example. It is about going out there and having impact in different ways. We can do that with this project but I want this to be just the start, we need more projects like this in other parts of the world.”

Dr Jones, Director of the Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice, has been working with the British Council on two other international projects as part of the Creative Spark: Higher Education Enterprise Programme, which works to develop entrepreneurship and enterprise skills across Europe. These projects in Armenia and Kyrgyzstan have already trained 74 academics and over 1,300 students, resulting in new business ideas for solar panels, smart mirrors and Oinobook – a felt book teaching children in Kyrgyzstan about local traditions – among many others.

“I am proud to see this new opportunity building on previous projects including the Creative Spark programme, and the Boosting Resilience project, in the arts and cultural sector.

“Initially we would like to see 20 funded partnerships between universities in the UK and Sub Saharan Africa, which are producing successful outcomes by around April 2023. Longer-term there is an aspiration to learn more about how a model like the one being implemented here can be reused, transferred, and expanded and how it might attract future funding.”

The British Council is looking for projects which support addressing the issues of climate change and digital innovation, as well as employability and entrepreneurship.

Universities from the UK, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa can receive funding of up to £60,000 as part of the programme, to support each mutually beneficial partnership to respond to an identified problem.

All applications including supporting documents must be submitted through the application portal by 5pm on Friday 30th July.


Background Information

  1. The total value of the grant awarded to City, University of London is £1.38 million
  2. The project team will host a clarification session regarding this opportunity on Thursday 8th July at 11am
  3. Africa’s youth population is growing rapidly and is expected to double to more than 830 million by 2050. If harnessed properly, this increase in the working age population could support increased productivity and stronger, more inclusive economic growth across the continent (Source: British Council)
  4. The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. Last year we reached over 80 million people directly and 791 million people overall including online, broadcasts and publications. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive a 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.

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