This Website contains news and information about the project DEpUK – Developing Entrepreneurial Universities in Kenya!

Where Do We Start?

The Kenyan university landscape might currently face the challenge of an increasing number of students attending its universities but a decreasing amount of money available per student. As far as we know, it is expected from the universities that their graduates are having the necessary competences to work in the modern job market. It seems that the Kenyan students are usually missing the following competences:

  1. entrepreneurial thinking and acting (e.g. idea generation, creative problem-solving, project management)
  2. capacity for teamwork (e.g. communication, team development)
  3. time- and self-management (e.g. prioritization and delegation of tasks)
  4. presentation competences (e.g. self-presentation in a job interview)

These problems probably exist out of the following reasons:

  1. teaching at Kenyan universities focuses mainly on memory-based instead of competence-based techniques
  2. little communication and systematic exchange between single universities
  3. minor focus on the teaching of soft skills
  4. missing systematic support for the student’s intentions to establish companies

Furthermore, the Kenyan university landscape seems to have changed massively over the last ten years so that only a few old universities exist and many newly founded universities are spread across the country to meet the increasing number of students. Because of the positive development of the Kenyan economy there may be a need for good educated graduates in the job market and it seems necessary to include the named general competences in the university education. However, the Kenyan firms may not be able to employ all the graduates wherefore some of the students need to establish their own business.

Need for Action and Goals

There seems to be the urgent need for action for the university management to discuss and realize strategic options to develop their student’s entrepreneurial orientation. Important may be the understanding of founding as a process consisting of multiple steps. These steps can be summarised in a start-up model that is used at the Saarland University (Universität des Saarlandes – UdS). A graphic adaptation of the founding process is pictured below:


Figure 1. Graphic adaptation of the phases of founding according to the start-up model of the Saarland University


The arrangements already conducted by the Kenyan government (e.g. promotion of start-up centres or Science & Technology Parks) are possibly not comprehensive enough to match the multiple steps of founding and establish entrepreneurship. Therefore, four eventual fields of action were identified:

  1. Increasing the job market orientation of Kenyan students by including the comptences needed in the job market into teaching at universities
  2. Improving the systematic exchange between universities and corporations
  3. Further education of the Kenyan teachers in competence-based teaching formats
  4. Systematic support for students with founding intentions

Direct and Indirect Target Group

The project seems to address different target groups to develop entrepreneurial universities. The following groups are directly adressed by the project:

  1. Senior management (involved in the project) of the Kenyan universities
  2. university managers and coordinators of the participating universities with tasks in promotion of entrepreneurship
  3. lecturers of the different university departments
  4. network partners (e.g. research assitants and employees, national corporation agents, international partners, alumni)

Kind of indirectly adressed by the project are the Kenyan students whose entrepreneurial competences shall be increased.

Project Goals

  • Needs assessment/Self-assessment

First of all a needs assessment is planned to be conducted. All participating partners (including the UdS) will assess their needs with the HEInnovate Tools. Moreover, quantitative and qualitative questioning may lead to a needs assessment considering multiple perspectives. Research on change management seems to indicate that many impulses are needed until the sensibility for the need of change is reached.

  • Starting the reform process in university management by conducting specific action plans

It is planned that the Kenyan universities will just start learning about the strategic development to become an entrepreneurial university. Therefore, a trip to Germany shall be organized. 15 employees of Kenyan universities shall spend a week at the Saarland University, participate in workshops, visit presentations and exchange with German experts on founding and developing entrepreneurial thinking.

  • Supporting exchange between universities

The different Kenyan universities may have different conceptions of developing entrepreneurial orientation. These ideas seem to be not equally proceeded or equally successful. Therefore, the support of national systematic exchange between universities seems important. Project workshops shall be organized to promote national communication about multiple themes (e.g. change management processes, developing start-up centres or Science & Technology Parks). An employee of the UdS or a national expert will ideally attend these workshops to determine the themes to focus on.

  • Exchange with corporations

A vivid exchange between universities and corporations could be helpful out of multiple reasons. Firstly, the contact between universities and corporations could provide new input for teaching. Secondly,  the contact with corporations could ease the development of Science & Technology Parks. Therefore, one organized day every year shall offer the setting to meet with corporations and get into contact.

  • Further education for university lecturers

University lecturers may need to develop their style of teaching from a mainly memory-based format to a more competence-based format. It is planned that the teachers will participate in an e-learning program that focuses on creative problem-solving and didactics. Furthermore, the participants shall be coached to develop a workshop for Design Thinking in cooperation with the Saarland University that shall be integrated in the Kenyan teaching. This coaching could empower the Kenyan teachers to develop further teaching concepts using the Design Thinking method.

  • Establishing formats to increase entrepreneurial thinking and acting

The Saarland University could share many experiences with different formats focusing on an increasing of entrepreneurial orientation in students (e.g. Start-Up Weekend, 5 Euro Start-Up). The plan is that Kenyan teachers will get to know these formats and will learn how to conduct them.

All named actions shall be evaluated continuously to proof that they serve the target achievement.

Cooperation partners

Applicant for this project is the KWT (Kontaktstelle für Wissens- und Technologietransfer) embedded in the Saarland University, which got appointed EXIST-Gründerhochschule (founding school) in the year 2013. Hereupon, the goal was to develop a “founding culture” in research, teaching and administration. This seems to qualify the Saarland University as a partner for the development of entrepreneurial universities in Kenya.