First Team Academy in Africa

First Team Academy, or Tiimiakatemia in Finnish was established 1993 in Jyväskylä, Finland. In the core of Team Academy –model there are students who all work as entrepreneurs while starting their own company in the beginning of their studies. They start making projects with real companies and with real money. While doing the projects students face challenges and have to learn different skills. In Finland Tiimiakateamia is a special unit of entrepreneurship at JAMK Jyväskylä University of Applied Sciences where the students graduate with BBA degree after 3,5 years. Model has been exported to multiple countries such as France, UK, Spain, Brasil and China.

People who participate to the program don’t see themselves as students but more as ´Teampreneurs´. There are no teachers in Team Academy, there are coaches. There are also no exams but a lot of reading and taking the theory from the books straight into practice in customer projects. Wait, what? No teachers? No exams? “What kind of school that is?” -you might be thinking now. Actually there are no lectures either, but instead people are learning by doing.

Teampreneurs have an opportunity to learn whatever skills they want and need to have better customer relations and make better business. They have the power to affect their learning process themselves. Learners have to improve their skills in leadership, marketing, human resourcing and financial skills. On top of that they will grow a lot as human beings during their studies. The amount of success depends on individual. No-one else can put the knowledge to your head.

As learning happen in teams. Teammates will challenge each other every day. Everyone in the team will know what you want to reach and what you want to learn. It’s not only struggling alone with your problems, because you have the support from the whole team. If you learn something, you will share it with your team. That’s how team and its members learn together.

University of Iringa in Tanzania has started a new degree program in late October this year that has been inspired by Team Academy approach. Team Academy Iringa is the first Team Academy in Africa. This is a pilot project which has 26 1st year BBA students. The rest will be history and only the sky is limit. People in Iringa are really excited about this new way of learning.

This Team Academy Iringa’s journey hasn’t been easy and it has taken a lot of work. The hard work still continues but luckily coaches and other core team members are really strong and committed to develop the program. One of the members of Team Academy Iringa core team, Mr. Deo Sabokwigina, said: “It’s not always enough if you just hope. Sometimes you also have to believe.”

Iringa is taking the first steps in the field of team entrepreneurship in Africa. If you’ll visit Team Academy Iringa you would hear many teampreneurs saying: “We are making history!”

Written by Suvi Marjanen
Tiimiakatemia Junior Expert

Suvi is a teampreneur from Tiimiakatemia Jyväskylä, Finland. She is currently staying in Iringa for two months to help kick-starting Team Academy Iringa. You can see pictures from University of Iringa Team Academy here.


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