Business schools only focus on big corporations. The examples given in class and in case studies are all about big and famous firms. The small firms are all lumped together as SMEs.
Academics all agree SMEs represent the bulk of economic activities, but not the bulk of intellectual focus.
To make matters worse, in the study of entrepreneurship, hustlers are left out. The guest speakers in universities, colleges and media houses are men and women who are well known in the corporate sector. They are CEOs of listed firms or other well-established companies.
They hog all the airtime on TV, radio, newspapers, yet hustlers have stories that would surprise many with their mastery of reality, away from esoteric equations and graphs.
Isn’t it time that we started teaching hustling as a respected occupation?
Imagine taking Hustlenomics 101? Followed by courses on how hustlers manage money, relationships, customers and how they prepare for retirement?
Family Bank sponsors 70 SMEs for US trip
Imagine a PhD or MBA class inviting a hairdresser to share how he or she names hairstyles, sets prices, keeps customers and raises profit margins. What of a tout or other hustlers?
I have a hunch that hustlers are more realistic than the current guests we bring to class. But they are forgotten in curriculum design; they are not called in as stakeholders.
We only talk about businesses when they have matured, been to the stock exchange or are formalised. Yet, all businesses go through a life cycle, starting with hustling.
Some might feel that teaching hustling is regressive. But the truth is that no business starts from the NSE – it starts out hustling. The only people who start high up are inheritors, and they’re very few.
Bringing hustling to the classroom would make our studies more exciting and realistic. One of the soft underbellies in our curriculum is an overreliance on textbooks written in the West for the West. It’s no wonder that after school, we keep off books and hate reading.
Realities of business
Textbooks leave out hustlers and their valuable experiences. They leave out the realities of business and entrepreneurship. Suppose we had photos of our hustlers in textbooks instead of people we have never seen or met?
More than 80 per cent of the jobs in Kenya are in the informal sector, where hustlers thrive. Is it fair to leave out that sector in our intellectual pursuits?
We need hustlenomics, accounting for hustlers, finance for hustlers, investing for hustlers, customer relationships and other business courses for hustlers. We could go beyond business. What of law for hustlers, sociology of hustlers, psychology of hustlers?
Even in research, more is needed on hustlers beyond SMEs. If we focused more on hustling and formalised it, it would gain more prestige and more young men and women would aspire to start hustles and build them into world-class firms.
We have hustlers everywhere in Kenya, except in school. Teaching hustling will make our education more relevant and realistic, and give hustlers the confidence they need to start Kenya’s multinational corporations, like Korean chaebols.
Hustlers, mnasema nini?