The Centre for African Entrepreneurship and Leadership (CAEL) was conceived in 2013. Its two main aims are: 1) to support African institutions, governments and parastatals seeking to build capacity for the development of sustainable entrepreneurship education and good governance schemes, and 2) to coordinate cross-faculty activities relating to research and development of impact studies for policy in this area. CAEL’s establishment was framed around the University’s strategic response in 2011 to the significant need to develop the institutional capability in Africa. This focused on the area of entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship centres as part of a wider strategy by various African governments to deal with the issue of graduate unemployment.
In 2012, the University of Wolverhampton Business School (UWBS) through the path-breaking vision of Dr. Paschal Anosike, a Nigerian and a senior academic within the School, successfully designed and hosted the first ever knowledge transfer workshop focused on establishing entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurship centres in tertiary institutions in Africa. The workshop, attended by prominent scholars, politicians and policy makers from Africa, was the catalyst for new partnerships with a number of African institutions including Bayero University Kano (BUK) and the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) both in Northern Nigeria.
By 2013, our partnerships with various Nigerian institutions had grown and deepened leading to UWBS bringing together expertise across the University, e.g. the Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre (WBSC), to develop successful models for embedding entrepreneurship education and operationalising entrepreneurship centres for the Nigerian higher education sector.
In the same year, underpinned by strong leadership from the then UWBS Dean, Dr. Anthea Gregory (who is now the Deputy Vice Chancellor - Academic), UWBS launched its MSc Innovation and Entrepreneurship degree course and also began the formal consultation process that led to the investment bid to establish an African Centre. The idea was to replicate the successes so far achieved by UWBS in the area of knowledge transfer partnerships (KTP) by providing a pan-African platform within the University for African scholars, governments and policy makers. The idea was to create an opportunity to generate and share knowledge and pedagogy, and disseminate best practices on entrepreneurship and good governance for the benefit of groups and communities within Africa.
By 2014, the University had received a number of UK national awards as a direct result of our interventions in Nigeria. These include The Guardian University Awards for Best International Project, PraxisUnico Impact Awards for The Best Collaborative Impact Award, in addition to being shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Impact Awards. These were highpoints in our collaborative commitment towards building a solid entrepreneurship capability not just in Nigeria but also across Africa where similar opportunities exist.
In a significant endorsement of this commitment, the Vice Chancellor Professor Geoff Layer announced in January 2014, during a partnership event in Nigeria, that the University has formally approved the establishment of the Centre for African Entrepreneurship and Leadership (CAEL). True to our strong focus on Africa, CAEL uses all its resources through capacity building, research, policy and innovation to provide tailor-made programmes that support African scholars, institutions, and governments committed to developing entrepreneurship education, entrepreneurship centers of excellence and promoting SMEs growth as means to transform African communities.