Masters of Business Administration students of Makerere University have been advised on sustainability of entrepreneurial projects, starting small and understanding the market before engaging in a business idea. The call was made by Ms Juliet Namuddu of Kampala City Council Authority, Barbara Kasekende of Uganda Development Bank and Dr. Peter Turyakira of Makerere University. The three were speaking during the first graduate Entrepreneurship Breakfast Pitch, an occasion that allowed students to present business ideas following a months of research in their respective communities.
Students’ Entrepreneurship Breakfast Pitch event under the theme “Rethinking Entrepreneurship” gave students a platform to present their projects. The projects were evaluated by a team of judges on the basis of ability to solve real-life problems, innovation, sustainability and scalability. The public pitching event is aimed to enhancing students’ knowledge and capability in project design and implementation, improving research skills and building networks and exposure. About 130 students were grouped into 14 teams and asked to go into the community, identify a problem and develop an entrepreneurial solution to the challenge.
Ms Namuddu the Director of Education and Social Services at KCCC, told the students to start their businesses with the little capital they have rather than having big budgets which are prohibitive.
Ms Kasekende, the head of Business Advisory at UDB, challenged the students to do what they love, saying “If you love what you do, you will start the business with or without the big monies.”
Dr. Turyakira shared with the students who a good entrepreneur is. He said this is someone that exploit opportunities to transform society, creates profitable businesses that are sustainable and protect the environment and offer quality products at affordable prices. He said price is fundamental in determining a prosperous business. “Understand your clients before you determine the price of your products. Can your target market afford your product?” Dr. Turyakira challenged the students. “An entrepreneur must have a problem to address and by so doing create jobs.”
The pitches made included the following;
List of students Projects
|1||FruitMax||Enabling longevity of riped fruits (Tomatoe|
|2||Yimusa Enfuna yo||Training and Mentoring programme for market stall owners in to with|
soft skills and business management skills to increase their net turnover
which will enhance their business growth
|3||Gagawala Project||Improving banana produce|
|4||Nze Wuwo – Biziyo|
|Creation of mobile phone app to capture inflows and outflows and|
provide simplified financial reports
|5||SmartLabs||Mobile Vet services|
|6||Akatale ko (Your Market)||Reliable market for farmers|
|7||Ugacraft||Setting up an Art-hub to standardize crafts for export|
|8||Yoyota Emyanyi Yo||Improving coffee post-harvest handling and coffee processing|
|9||EverGranaries||Establishing improved grannies for sustainable food security and improved household incomes|
|10||NCD Facility||Reducing prices for Non-Communicational Diseases drugs through aggregated demand and reduced prices|
|11||Agago Wetland Regeneration||Reclaiming the Agago wetland|
|12||Gorilla Rush||Promoting and creating awareness of Gorilla tourism|
|13||MySafe||Building financial sustainability for the informal sector and the diaspora|
|14||LapTops4Dev||Contributing to bridging the education equity in rural schools. At hire purchase|
The head of the Makerere Entrepreneurial Centre, at the College of Business and Management Sciences, Dr. Cathy Mbidde said the focus of the pitching exercise was to allow students to rethink entrepreneurship so that by the time they finish university, they can create jobs.
“There is a misconception that entrepreneurship refers to Small and Medium Enterprises. We want the students to know that even addressing community challenges is entrepreneurship.
Dr. Mbidde advocated for a mindset change to have students develop society changing ideas rather than business Ideas. “The students wanted to start their own businesses but we challenged them to find social problems in their districts and formulate an entrepreneur solution.”
Mr Robert Semakula one of the judges has called on students to draw attention to sustainability as a key quality for businesses. He appreciated the university for training the students on pitching business ideas.
The Key note speaker, Hon. Kirabo Agnes, the Youth Member of Parliament for the Central Region, advised the students to tap into the Parish Development model which was set up by the government to bring funds closer to the masses. She encouraged them to access the low interest funds and ensure they are well utilized. On Market availability, the Member of Parliament, said pointed the students to the expanding East African Community Market with the inclusion of Democratic Republic of Congo into the EAC. She called on the entrepreneurs to ensure quality and customer satisfaction, have honesty, commitment and good planning.
Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Finance and Administration, who represented the Vice Chancellor said the pitching project was a good idea which fit into the university’s strategic plan of moving towards a student-centered approach to teaching as well as being a research-led university. He thanked the lecturers for a job well-done, saying the pitching process will improve innovation among students as well as the soft skills. He advised the organizers to involve more private sector players in the project so as to get good feedback and support for the project.
Dr. Umar Kakumba, the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs and Dr. Godfrey Akileng, the Dean School of Business appreciated the organizing team led by Cathy Mbidde, Dr. Sarah Bimbona and Dr. Jude Mugarura for a job well done in training the students and for organizing the Entrepreneurship pitches.
Prof. Umar said he was happy to witness the business pitches, emphasizing that knowledge should offer solutions to society challenges. “Having a first year student pitch a business idea fits into our mission of fostering innovation.”
The Principal of CoBAMS, Prof. Eria Hisali, joined others to thank the organizers and encouraged the students to pursue the start of these brilliant pitches. “Entrepreneurship is still a new concept in Uganda so there are many opportunities for us to make a difference in our communities,” Prof. Hisali said.
He advised the organisers to draw a monitoring and evaluation framework which will help them reflect on the progress of the projects this time next year. He also called for more partnerships and sponsorships.
Dr. Sarah Bimbona, one of the tutors and organizers of the event called on the students to continue engaging the Entrepreneurship center in an effort to grow their business ideas. She also appealed to the private sector to support the university and the students in this endeavor.
Also present was Ms Hellen Masika, the Deputy ED of Microfinance Services Centre, representatives from Sumz snacks, Bee Mine Honey among other entrepreneurs.
- Ms. Dorothy Katantazi
- Mr Robert Semakula
- Dr. Ibrahim Okumu
- Mr. Joseph Monroe