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.

Entrepreneurship education – a case study at the University of the Western Cape

Although it is increasingly being acknowledged that teaching university students to be entrepreneurs is a critical responsibility of higher education institutions, there are limited examples of universities approaching this in a strategic and holistic fashion. This is not surprising as there are many challenges including:

  • There seldom exists one locus for the coordination and planning of entrepreneurial activities across the institution
  • The multi-faculty requirement for this teaching often “bounces against” the silo walls within universities
  • Entrepreneurial education demands an experiential approach to be effective (just as you cannot learn to swim in a library, neither can you learn to create a business in a classroom) which does not always fit the way education is delivered at universities
  • Frequently (and we believe often correctly) entrepreneurial education does not fall into the pure academic area and so receives less attention and resources than is required
  • Few universities have sufficient and appropriately trained and experienced staff to offer entrepreneurial education at the scale required to allow students to make a difference


Charleen Duncan Director UWC CEI
Charleen Duncan

Given these challenges, it really excites us to see an institution “getting it right”; and even more pleasing when we have been fortunate enough to play a direct role in this achievement. Therefore we wish to congratulate Charleen Duncan (Director of the Centre for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa) and her team in making real progress in teaching entrepreneurship skills to a broad range of students at the university, across all faculties.



Attached is a document that showcases some of the main activities that the UWC CEI has undertaken together with some performance indicators. When reviewing this document and in conversations with the Centre and Charleen, we believe the key success factors have been:

  • A focus on practical entrepreneurial education rather than theory
  • A clear understanding of the possible impact of the initiatives in terms of job creation, student employability and the provision of life skills that contribute to the production of “21st Century Graduates” (being a primry focus of the institution)
  • Availability of a variety of programmes designed to teach, inspire and motivate a broad range of students from all faculties
  • The design of student-focussed initiatives that recognises the constraints of university students in terms of timing, pace, exams and different education levels
  • Outreach beyond the university to the community, corporates and government environments.
  • Incorporating best practices from international examples and tailoring them to the local environment.
  • Using modern teaching and education methods such as “flipped classroom” thinking and harnessing the power of technology to scale and optimise the learning experience.

A further factor that has been important is Charleen’s untiring efforts to link to the broader entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Western Cape, South Africa and internationally. We believe that having a leader within the university who plays a role in this broader network is essential for attracting the right resources to make these initiatives happen.

Here is a link to the UWC Student Entrepreneurship Report.

UWC Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation Student Entrepreneurship Report

We would be happy to talk to anyone who is interested in developing their own entrepreneurial program (or entrepreneurial education strategy) and/or putting you in contact with Charleen herself. Please have a look at our “Home” page and “About” page to find out more and drop me a line at simon.gifford@mashauri.org . If you would like to have your university’s entrepreneurial activities showcased, then let’s get in contact.