Unveiling the Entrepreneurial Mindset: A New Approach to Education

Entrepreneurial competencies

Bridging the gap in entrepreneurial education, our newly developed framework, comprising 15 principal competencies, offers universities a comprehensive tool to intentionally cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset. This innovative tool ensures a targeted, nuanced approach to fostering entrepreneurship, replacing hopeful coverage with intentional teaching.

Note: from this introduction page you can click through to our interactive framework where you may explore all the principal competencies and their sub-competencies. You are also able to download a pdf of the full framework from there.

Certain competencies distinguish the mindset of the successful entrepreneur

The entrepreneurial landscape, ever-changing and thrilling, is a captivating world of possibilities and challenges. At its heart lie certain competencies and capabilities that constitute the quintessential entrepreneurial mindset. It is these traits that often distinguish a successful founder and their venture. Moreover, even for those not intending to delve into entrepreneurship, these characteristics can prove invaluable. They are sought after by corporates and organizations alike, underscoring their broader relevance.

Understanding these competencies allows us to know what and how to teach entrepreneurship

As educators vested in the realm of entrepreneurial pedagogy, the comprehension of these competencies becomes crucial. It serves two fundamental purposes: it enlightens us on what to teach, and perhaps more importantly, how to teach it. The competencies, a blend of cognitive and non-cognitive elements, are not merely subjects to be communicated but traits to be nurtured. A deeper understanding of these elements provides us with a robust metric to gauge the efficacy of our educational programs in cultivating an entrepreneurial mindset.

A framework to help design, develop and measure programs has remained elusive

Indeed, significant work has already been undertaken in this sphere. Noteworthy examples include Saras Sarasvathy’s exploration of “effectuation,” the European Union’s EntreComp framework, and the initiatives by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NTFE). Yet, despite these substantial efforts, a comprehensive framework catering to the unique requirements of designing, developing, and implementing high experiential programs remains elusive.

“Standing on the shoulders of giants” we have developed a framework for program designers

Addressing this gap, we have synthesized our experiences and insights from existing research to develop a set of 15 principal competencies, each supported by several sub-competencies. The product of rigorous research, partially funded by an EU-based Higher Education Initiative, this framework promises a nuanced and holistic approach to entrepreneurial education.

We invite you to use this framework in your programs

We extend an invitation to universities developing and implementing entrepreneurial programs to utilize our work. Whether these programs form part of the accredited curriculum or are extra-curricular initiatives like accelerators or incubators, the framework can prove beneficial. Of course, the complexity and extensiveness of the framework mean it may not be fully covered by all programs, especially shorter ones. However, the framework enables educators to consciously choose which competencies to focus on, replacing reliance on hopeful coverage with targeted teaching.

Let us reshape entrepreneurial education together

Discover our framework at Mashauri Entrepreneurial Competency Framework  (MecFrame ) and join us on this exciting journey to reshape entrepreneurial education. We hope that, through deliberate design based on our framework, we can collectively nurture future entrepreneurs, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and mindset they need to succeed.

Executive summary.

In January 2018, the UK QAA (Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education) released an excellent paper: The Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education Guidance (referred to as EEE in this article) to provide direction to the provision of entrepreneurship education in the UK. It reads like a set of best practices and has been accepted at EU level as an important element to their thinking. Click on the image to download a full copy of  the Guidance

This is important to read for any involved in entrepreneurship education anywhere in the world. However, as a content-rich, 36 page document that covers many aspects of EEE, not everyone will want to read it in its entirety. Therefore the purpose of this article is to

  • 1. Give an overview of what is discussed in the Guidance

  • 2. Summarise the key aspects of the student learning experience

  • 3. Enable you to use the Guidance to develop a high level entrepreneurial course design

NOTE: Free customised entrepreneur course design at end of article

1. Overview of the Guidance

First off, I would like to say that if you have the time, I recommend you read the actual paper. Andy Penaluna and his team have done a remarkable job of maintaining the document to within 36 pages, given the richness of the content. However, for those of you who are more time-strapped, our overview will give you a useful summary of the contents and help you quickly reach the parts of most interest. In addition, we have added a little more value by suggesting how the Guidance may be used in designing your own entrepreneurship program.


1.1 The introduction and context (pages 1 - 6) gives a context to the Guidance. It states the purpose of the document, why EEE is important and then lists initiatives at a UK, European and international level that are supporting and driving this education.

Useful quote
“ Learning about and experiencing Enterprise and Entrepreneurship while at university can have several benefits. It gives students alternative perspectives on their career options and ultimately, the confidence to set up their own business or social enterprise. Enterprise competencies will be useful to those in employment, or those who become self-employed and work on a freelance or consultancy basis.

It can help develop a ‘can-do’ confidence, a creative questioning approach, and a willingness to take risks, enabling individuals to manage workplace uncertainty and flexible working patterns and careers.

Enterprising competencies, such as teamwork and the ability to demonstrate initiative and original thought, alongside self-discipline in starting tasks and completing them to deadline, are essential attributes that have been identified by employers as priorities. The potential for portfolio career trajectories also suggests that these learning experiences will support the needs of our students.”

1.2 Definitions and distinctions (pages 7 - 10) suggests some definitions and should help with conversations around entrepreneurial education. I have some doubts if these definitions will stick forever as they sound too similar, but they are a useful start. The section ends with a comment on the relationship between employability, enterprise and entrepreneurship.

The three key distinctions made are:

  • Enterprise Education is defined here as the process of developing students in a manner that provides them with an enhanced capacity to generate ideas, and the behaviours, attributes, and competencies to make them happen. It extends beyond knowledge acquisition to a wide range of emotional, intellectual, social, cultural and practical behaviours, attributes and competences, and is appropriate to all students.
  • Entrepreneurship Education aims to build upon the enterprising competencies of students who are capable of identifying opportunities and developing ventures, through becoming self-employed, setting up new businesses or developing and growing part of an existing venture. It focuses on the application of enterprising competencies and extends the learning environment into realistic risk environments that may include legal issues, funding issues, start-up and growth strategies.
  • Entrepreneurial Education is used here as a ‘catch all’ term that encompasses both Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, and may be used when discussing the combination of both.

1.3 Delivering enterprise and entrepreneurship education: educators (pages 11 - 12) discusses the role, attributes and tasks of EE educators. As this is something of a best practice guide, it does end up sounding as if these educators should be able to scale tall buildings in one bound - but (more seriously) includes lists of

  • > The role of the entrepreneurial educator (partly dependent on their job position)
  • > The attributes of such an educator
  • > The tasks of that person

Useful quote

“These educators are often tasked to tackle the ‘wicked’ problems of preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist, using technologies that have not yet been invented, and spotting and solving problems that we have yet to define clearly. To face this challenge, we need to develop students and graduates who are enterprising, flexible and innovative. Students should be able to identify and respond to opportunities using their ideas, knowledge, skills and confidence to create interventions that will address the challenges they meet. In this context, defining the goal as either enterprise or entrepreneurship is helpful, especially when it comes to assessing and evaluating learner performance.”

1.4 Delivering enterprise and entrepreneurship education: delivery (pages 13 - 17) dives into how entrepreneurship education might be delivered depending on the behaviours, attributes and competencies they wish to develop. It includes a useful section distinguishing between: ‘ learning about’, ‘learning for’ and ‘learning through’. It then discusses assessment, evaluation and impact including a description of the Entrecomp framework developed by the European Commission (to be discussed in some detail in our next blog).

Useful quote:

“In designing and delivering assessment, educators should consider the following:

  • learning ‘about’ entrepreneurship is normally evaluated through analytical texts such as essays and knowledge retention exercises such as examinations
  • learning ‘for’ entrepreneurship requires practical activities where students demonstrate their development
  • learning ‘through’ entrepreneurship is primarily a reflective process, where a student engages in entrepreneurial activities and maps their own learning and (supported) progression.”

1.5 The student learning experience described on pages 18 to 25 is (to me) the heart of this document from an educator’s perspective. It considers the learning experience through formal and informal activities, how “the role of wider experiences can contribute to the development of entrepreneurial effectiveness.”

This section is discussed in more detail below.


1.6 The supportive institution (pages 26 to 27) ends the Guidance. This section discusses how an entrepreneurial institution should support EEE and considers the importance of a centralised unit to coordinate this. It also mentions the need to educate the educators:

As Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education has matured it has become more complex in terms of depth and breadth. This has resulted in an increasing need to develop staff and to build expert teams that have the necessary skills, vision and support to deliver the required learning to an appropriate standard.

2. The student learning experience

The section on student learning experience is at the heart of the Guidance - at least from the perspective of someone who is interested in developing and delivering entrepreneurial education to students. However, on reading the guidance, we found it difficult to gain a holistic picture, because of the multi-dimensional and inter-relatedness of the elements discussed. These are:

1. The 4 steps in the journey (which are not necessarily linear) and what is included in each step or what the student should learn.
See figure 1.

  • > Enterprise awareness
  • > Entrepreneurial mindset
  • > Entrepreneurial competencies
  • > Entrepreneurial effectiveness

2. The locus of the education re the curriculum

  • > Curricular
  • > Extracurricular
  • > Co-curricular

3. What sort of thing should be taught at each step; and whether that is in or out of the curriculum.
See figure 2.

4. The 7 themes that flow throughout all of the steps

  • > Creativity and innovation
  • > Opportunity recognition, creation and evaluation
  • > Decision making supported by critical analysis, synthesis and judgement
  • > Implementation of ideas through leadership and management
  • > Action and reflection
  • > Communication and strategy skills
  • > Digital and data skills

5. The graduate outcomes for each of these 7 themes

6. What should be practised by the student to reach these outcomes.

Figure 1

The journey towards entrepreneurial effectiveness

Figure 2

An alternative model is mentioned in the Guidance: the European Commission EntreComp framework.

This framework considers 15 competencies and then allocates them across 3 areas (see figure 3).

The full EntreComp article is also useful and we plan to unpack this in  similar way (to as we are doing in this article) in the near future

Figure 3

  1. 3. Using the guidance to develop a high level course design

We initially thought about how to visually represent all these element in some sort of a multidimensional model. However, on consideration of the extreme (where every node has an element of each of the dimensions) and even ignoring the EntreComp framework, there would still be in excess of 2000 nodes which would not result in a practical (ie usable) model.

We then decided that using the excellent raw material that was in the Guidance, we should consider it from a user (in this case, educator and student) perspective. From there we built a simple decision tree commencing with two factors:

  • Desired outcome (educator-led) in terms of stage of the journey to be reached
  • Desired outcome (student-led) in terms of what they would like to achieve

Then taking into account educator and student constraints; and the other key elements from the Guidance, one can move through the decision tree to reach a high level design for the program. This is shown in the diagram below:




We have analysed the Guidance into its basic components and based on the decision tree above, developed a simple algorithm that takes inputs and converts them into a suggested high level design for your enterprise or entrepreneurial program. You simply need to answer the questions (it should only take about 5 minutes) and you will receive a report within 24 hours. In addition, we will also keep all respondents up to date with the development of this tool.



If you are interested in finding out more about how we help universities create entrepreneurs, develop entrepreneurial mindsets and position themselves as entrepreneurial institutions, please drop us a mail at simon.gifford@mashauri.org or apoorv.bamba@mashauri.org


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