On Thursday 29 th September 2022, happened a research dissemination workshop at St. Joseph’s
Inn Virika-Fort portal that presented a policy debrief on social media technology as a feasible
strategy in catalyzing Sustainable growth of small businesses in Uganda. A case study of Mbale
and Fort portal by Makerere University’s Business Management expert and Lecturer Dr. Kasimu
The research project themed “Strengthening the Social Media Competencies of Business
Owner Managers for Sustainable Growth of Small Businesses in Uganda” objected at equipping business owner-managers with social media competencies that are relevant in boosting productivity, marketing and promoting business operations for sustainable growth.
The project team first conducted a needs assessment before training where it was revealed that
195 (92%) of the business owner-managers in Fort Portal and Mbale had never obtained training
on social media usage. The research team engaged the project participants in a hands-on social
media training and eventually social media platforms were integrated into the functionality of
Uganda being the most entrepreneurial country in the world, it is unfortunate that 64% of businesses started do not live to see their first birthday and those that do, 30% collapse before their 3rd anniversary, this all has been made worse by the Covid-19 pandemic.
This research further revealed that 85% of the participants demonstrated readiness to use social media in the operations of their business and 77% of Business owner-managers have smartphones. On the other hand, 87% of participants were concerned that social media platforms may make it easy for Governments to spy on their businesses hence Privacy and Security threats.
Dr. Kasimu Sendawula the project Principal Investigator reported that after engaging the Business owner-managers in a hands on training; they appreciated social media and opened up social media platforms, channels, and pages that were suitable for their businesses and that the project team used the training materials to develop social media digital training modules that can be adopted by institutions of higher learning to equip nascent entrepreneurs with social media competencies relevant for sustainable business growth.
Dr. Mercy Amayo the Representative of the Grants Management Committee (GMC), Makerere
University Research and Innovations Fund applauded the project team for the job well done and
also congratulated them upon winning such a prestigious grant. Mr. Ssekyondwa Augustine a Business Process Analyst at National Information Technology Authority Uganda – Directorate of E-Government Services added his voice to appreciate and congratulate the research team on doing such an impactful study. He encouraged the trained business owners to exercise their marketing goals in respect to computer ethics and patent rights of businesses to avoid falling culprits of plagiarism and offensive communication.
The research recommends that government of Uganda amends the current social media guide by integrating issues concerning social media usage by the business community as it will guide business owner-managers on the requirements and guidelines for social media usage, potential risks, security, transparency and the legal considerations of using social media in business operations, for small businesses will trust social media platforms and fully utilize them with a goal of fostering sustainable business growth in Uganda.
Further recommendations highlight that government integrates social media technology training in the skilling Uganda program to enable nascent entrepreneurs to acquire competencies needed to successfully integrate social media technology into the functionality of their startups for sustainable growth.
The Ministry of Education and Sports should encourage academic institutions to adopt the social media training modules developed from this project to equip learners with practical soft and technical social media skills to enable future entrepreneurs to acquire competencies relevant in launching social media platforms, selling and marketing online.
This study was spearheaded by Dr. Sendawula Kasimu, Professor Peter Turyakira, Professor Grace Kibanja, Dr. Saadat Kimuli Nakyejwe, Ms. Najjinda Shamirah, Mr. Ashiraf Mutagubya, Mr. Muhsin Mutagubya and Ms. Betty Tuhaise: funded by the Government of Uganda through Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RiF)”