HP LIFE: Sparking the Entrepreneurial Spirit

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HP LIFE: Sparking the Entrepreneurial Spirit

by Nate Hurst, Chief Sustainability & Social Impact Officer
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.@HPLIFE_Program - Sparking the Entrepreneurial Spirit http://bit.ly/28VCiDj @HPSustainable @nathanehurst @ges2016
Friday, June 24, 2016 - 10:35am

CAMPAIGN: HP, Inc. | Society


Bill Hewlett and David Packard were two of the original entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley. When they established HP over 75 years ago, they set out to build a company that embraced their entrepreneurial spirit. They went on to create a global business that now employs tens of thousands of people across the world who proudly carry their legacy forward, creating technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere.

Like Bill and Dave, people will always have great ideas — but ideas alone are not enough to succeed. Aspiring entrepreneurs also need the knowledge and skills to map their path to success. HP LIFE (HP Learning Initiative for Entrepreneurs), a program of the HP Foundation, can help them open the door to a world of possibilities by offering access to free online micro-courses developed to provide them with the skills they need to succeed.

That’s why I was thrilled to find out earlier this year that the program had been recognized by German philanthropic NGO, Bertelsmann Foundation (Bertelsmann Stiftung), as an example of a best practice ‘responsible entrepreneurship’ program as part of their annual Reinhard Mohn Prize.

The HP LIFE program enables learners to acquire the basic business, IT, and entrepreneurship skills they need to realize their ambitions and turn their ideas into reality. The 25 short courses are available in seven languages and cover the core business areas of communications, operations, marketing and finance. There are also courses on special topics such as effective leadership, energy efficiency and social entrepreneurship — providing learners with a fully rounded skill set.

The program’s flexibility means it can also be integrated easily into classroom settings where it is used to enrich curricula and deepen the student learning experience. To extend this reach and maximize the impact of the program on the ground, we work with leading organizations including USAID (United States Agency for International Development), UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organization), NACCE (National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship) and SkillsUSA, as well as partners in China and India, to bring the program to communities where economic development is most needed. Take Tunisia for example.

While it has made great strides in recent years, youth unemployment rates remain stubbornly high at more than 40%, particularly among young graduates in vulnerable regions of the country. A key goal of the Tunisian government is to create sustainable employment opportunities for its young people in an effort to tackle this issue.

At the end of 2012, HP, USAID, UNIDO and the Government of Italy implemented a program aimed at creating job opportunities for young people in four particularly disadvantaged regions — Kairouan, Kasserine, Le Kef and Sidi Bouzid.

The work has focused on supporting them to learn the skills they need to create a new business or grow an existing one. HP has equipped business support institutions in the four targeted regions with HP technology (notebooks, printers, projectors) enabling trainers to give their clients the practical tools they need to study and learn. As part of this package, the HP LIFE program has been rolled out in collaboration with government, private partners, private associations and universities to support entrepreneurial skills development. With courses available in Arabic and French, the program is easily accessible to the target audience.

By March 2016, 16 HP LIFE trainers had integrated the program into their workshops, while 55 university educators are using HP LIFE to enrich their entrepreneurship curricula. More than 12,000 students and entrepreneurs have accessed HP LIFE training as a result of the project. Out of these, 1,400 have participated in face to face HP LIFE training (which includes coaching) and have applied the concepts they learned from the program to progress their business projects. HP LIFE training and coaching has resulted in the creation of 1,035 new jobs and many new businesses in the four targeted regions. The stories behind these figures make inspiring reading. Take Anis and Najet for example.

Anis was an unemployed engineering graduate until he spotted a gap in the market and established his business, Assali Electricité et Energie, selling and installing solar panels in Le Kef. At first, Anis didn’t find it easy to convince potential clients about the value of solar panels. “Something I thought would be a competitive advantage — the fact there was no one else in the solar panel market — actually proved to be a challenge,” he says. Undeterred, he took the HP LIFE marketing and finance modules enabling him to develop clear messaging for his business and to calculate its break even point. Today, his business is thriving. Anis has hired two employees and revenue has increased by 10%. Business is so good, Anis has plans to expand his services to include solar water heating systems. “HP LIFE has helped me in virtually every aspect of my business”, he says.

Beyond courses, HP LIFE’s range of supporting features includes an active online community which provides users with the opportunity to network, share experiences and make new business contacts. For Najet, who employs 11 people in her own call center in Le Kef, this is an important feature of the program which has given her the confidence and knowledge to begin developing new partnerships and accessing new European markets — something she would have found difficult to do before.

Anis and Najet are just two examples among the thousands of entrepreneurs all over the world whose businesses are expanding markets, creating new employment opportunities and innovating solutions to some of society’s most pressing issues. HP is proud to know that its technology and solutions are sparking this entrepreneurial spirit by giving people access to opportunities that enable them to raise themselves up and build a better future.

For more information: www.hp.com/sustainability