How entrepreneurship

can change lives

Interview with Jay Wasim

Head of Business and Management, Heriot-Watt University, Scotland.

Keywords: Digital entrepreneurship, teaching and learning, entrepreneurship education, business research, micro-businesses.

How to reference this article: Wasim, J., 2022, How entrepreneurship can change lives, Entrepreneurial Mindset Network, accessed [insert date], <>.

First published in 2022 in the Entrepreneurial Mindset Network eZINE Volume 5 no 2.

How did you first become interested and motivated to register for a PhD?

I was doing my bachelor at the University of Westminster in London when Dr Magda Herchui taught me a course on digital entrepreneurship in my final year. It was really interesting, however, I told Magda that as fun as it is, this is not how entrepreneurs learn or do things. Magda agreed and said that there is no real framework for teaching entrepreneurship because of the complexities it has. She encouraged me to do a PhD and develop a framework. Unfortunately, because of some reasons she had go on long term leave. Meanwhile I moved to the University of Portsmouth to do my MSc and then PhD.

What was the final topic of your investigation and how did you come to choose it?

As I was mentioning, I saw the teaching of entrepreneurship and argued that this is not how it should be because it doesn’t reflect the true entrepreneurial learning of entrepreneurs.

What were the main findings and conclusions?

Prior models of entrepreneurial learning were focused on experiential learning. Whereas my work argued that its not just experiential. The social and contextual elements play a significant role in entrepreneurial learning and thus they must be a part of entrepreneurial education to mimic how entrepreneurs learn.

Image credit: Pixabay

Do you think it is important that, in general, entrepreneurship research should have a practical application?

I think every research must have practical application. Unfortunately, currently there is a big gap between academic business research and industry. Academic business research rarely reaches businesses. We are developing cutting edge knowledge which people who need the most rarely see.

Can you tell us about the project you are doing with ex-offenders to set up micro-businesses?

I met someone in the gym a few years ago who was running this initiative for drug addicts and ex-convicts. When I asked him about the story he mentioned that he was caught in bad situations as a teenager and went to prison a few times, first as a young offender and then as an adult. When he came out, he realised that there aren’t that many employment options for the ex-convicts which kind of puts you on the loop of committing crime to survive. I thought about it a lot and said, we teach entrepreneurship to people that sometimes don’t even want to learn, why not we go in the prisons and teach them how to setup micro-businesses. I ran a pilot in April 2022 which was well received by the prisoners and the prison officers. We are now looking to run another round sometime soon.

What will you report about this project in your upcoming conference paper?

Bits of it is confidential considering the nature of the participants, but the main areas are skills development and potential for it act as a catalyst out of the life of crime for these people. ◼️