Entrepreneurs are a vital source of growth and innovation for any economy. Around the world microenterprises employ more people and create more jobs than any other type of venture. But aspiring entrepreneurs often lack the necessary business and IT skills to turn their ideas into thriving businesses.
Not all educational systems are able to meet the demands of the 21st century, and access to basic training and technologies is sometimes limited. Additionally, economic and cultural forces can be stacked against recent graduates, particularly women.
Aspiring entrepreneurs require training in both business and IT skills. They need better access to relevant, meaningful content and to information and communications technology (ICT), inspiring them to build their ideas, create their enterprises, and unleash their potential.
The overall challenge is to help the next generation of entrepreneurs turn their ideas into thriving businesses.
HP is committed to using technology as a catalyst to help the next generation of entrepreneurs to successfully build their businesses.
The HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs (HP LIFE) program combines face-to-face training and online tools for people from all backgrounds to harness the power of IT, grow their businesses, and foster an entrepreneurship culture.
Launched in 2007 as GET-IT, and renamed in 2010 as HP LIFE, this global program supports the growth of small- to medium-sized enterprises via NGO-operated training centers. By combining training center partners with HP technology, cash grants, training, and a flexible, modular-based business technology curriculum, it has been possible to reach thousands of micro-entrepreneurs.
HP LIFE focuses on training students and aspiring entrepreneurs in IT and business skills so they can establish and grow their businesses. The program has four elements:
• Training center partners equipped with HP technology, supported by cash grants
• Variety of curricula and online/offline learning tools, including the LIFE Community portal (please find link below) where all educational material can be accessed free of charge by anyone with internet access
• Professional Training of Trainers (ToT)
• Online and offline networking and professional development opportunities for training centers and trainees
Information and communication technology (ICT) is a core delivery component of HP LIFE. Within its grant year, each training center partner is offered the latest HP technology to suit its needs (for example, desktop, laptop or multi-seat solutions) with options such as a large monitor, mice, keyboards, security locks, a docking station, USB graphic adapter, and all-in-one printer.
This enables each center to establish or upgrade its training rooms and improve the quality and quantity of its trainings. If required, a training center can select technology to create mobile training units so it can deliver trainings at a lower cost in remote locations such as rural villages.
In partnership with MEA-I, a Swiss-based not-for-profit organisation, HP also offers online educational tools and games that deploy and supplement the program curricula. An interactive portal, the HP LIFE community, provides animated presentations about widely available technology tools for marketing, finances, operations, management, and communications.
In addition, participants can play the so-called Serious Games, presenting real entrepreneurial scenarios with common business challenges. These resources are translated in many languages, and are flexible and modular to suit different experience and skill levels. Participants can progress through the modules at their own pace.
Key challenges include:
- Scalability/Reach: How can HP LIFE maximize its reach when those most in need may not have internet access;
- Localization: How can HP LIFE offer a global program when - to have impact - content must be relevant to each country, local culture, and language;
- Sustainability/Cost efficiency: How can HP LIFE support participants and widen access when it is so expensive to provide vital face-to-face trainings and invest in training centers.
HP LIFE gives participants the necessary business and IT skills to help grow their businesses. By October 2011, HP LIFE had reached over 800,000 people with face-to-face training and online interaction, and approximately 12,800 new businesses and 24,600 new jobs had been created.
As well as economic impact, this has provided positive social gains as working gives people a sense of purpose and contributes to their well-being. More aspiring entrepreneurs are joining the program every day. On average, individuals who complete the program increase their company revenue by 35% within 18 months, and increase the number of jobs they create by at least 20%.
Many groups benefit from HP LIFE, including youth and micro-entrepreneurs (both men and women). HP focuses its investment to support marginalized groups.
HP plans to define and incorporate environmental topics into HP LIFE modules in 2012.
HP LIFE Global: http://www.life-global.org/
HP LIFE EMEA: http://www.life-europe.info/
HP LIFE at HP: http://ww.hp.com/go/hplife
LIFE Community: www.becomelife.org