African Social Entrepreneurship Academy (ASEA)

The Practical Entrepreneurship Certificate Program by Columbia Business School provides participants with an intensive, “hands-on” course focusing on the creation, evaluation, development, and launch readiness of a new business or social venture, with a focus on rural youth. For each new venture, key issues are addressed in ways highly consistent with other formal venture planning processes including: business model development, customer discovery, product-market validation, industry and market analysis, product or service innovation, brand development and go-to-market strategies, team selection & management, profit models, financing, and legal considerations.

The course is 10 modules with a proprietary sequence of class topics, activities, and assignments (see tables below). Each student is provided with a workbook with all topic slides and worksheets to help guide the students in their research and strategic thinking for each element of their business model and subsequent laugh plan. provides teaching materials and student workbooks in both English and French. Throughout the class students refine their venture’s hypothesized business model based on instructor, peer, and customer feedback.

Table 1. Modules, Topics, and Assignments

Participants enter the session with preliminary venture ideas that they would like to work on during the program and then work in teams on a selected venture.



Program Benefits

At the highest level, students come away with clear answers to the following questions:
• What are the issues, tensions, and relationships faced by entrepreneurs as they build a new venture?
• What are common enablers and barriers to venture creation?
• How to develop a business model to test your assumptions about product offerings and market demand?
• How do you assess the current market and position your product offerings for competitive advantage?
• What is the most agile way to develop new product and services that will gain market traction quickly?
• What are current approaches for cost effective customer acquisition and retention?
• How to build credible financials based on reasonable, benchmarked assumptions?
• What metrics are critical to measure and monitor new venture success?
• How to build the right team and culture for successful launch and early stage growth?

Program Content

The program uses a proprietary sequence of modules and tools to support the development of the student’s new venture. Students learn how to use a business model to brainstorm and design each part of your venture, from customer discovery to launch preparedness. Specific skill development and issues covered include:
• Opportunity Identification- Articulating the problem to be solved and the potential benefit to the customer
• Business Model Development- Turning your new venture idea into a business model
• Customer Discovery- Testing your assumptions about the alignment between your product offering and targeted customers
• Value Proposition- Synthesizing the unique benefits of new offerings and positioning against the competition in the marketplace
• Market Attractiveness (Determining how big your new markets and customer segments are and how to enter successfully Early Product Development)
• Building minimal viable products to test customer acceptance
• Key Partners- understanding your industry ecosystem to facilitate important relationships
• Profit Models- Identifying revenue sources while minimizing cost factors
• Start-Up Metrics- identifying critical indicators for benchmarking, measurement, monitoring
• Team Leadership- Selecting team members with the right mix of knowledge and skills

Core Accomplishments

• Successful Development and Implementation of 10 module Training Program
• Training Program Workbooks and Instructor Slides in two languages: English and French
• Created Blog to support on-going teacher training –
• An online, smartphone version for teacher training in progress (to support scalable teacher training in future)