Makerere University launches the Students’ Entrepreneurship Club under the project Solve the Equation East Africa (SEE)
The Makerere University Students’ Entrepreneurship Club was on Friday 7th March, 2015 launched at the School of Agricultural Sciences. The club is an initiative under the project, “Solve the Equation East Africa (SEE). SEE is a collaborative project within the member universities in East Africa trying to change the mindset of University graduates from thinking about job seeking to job creation by imparting several skills including entrepreneurship.
Basing on the success projects in Rwanda, SEE philosophy of change is to conduct training for innovation entrepreneurship, supporting business skills, pilot innovative ideas, commercialise successive piloted ideas and follow up teams in the field.
The launch of the Makerere University Students’ Entrepreneurship Club and SEE project activities was spearheaded by the Project Coordinator for East Africa Mr. Paul Serumaga who is also a lecturer at the University of Rwanda. Mr. Serumaga is also a college Alumni who graduated with a BSc. Food Science and Technology in 2001. He is being assisted by Makerere University SEE project coordinators Prof. Felix Bareeba and Dr. Peter Walekhwa. The function was presided over by the Dean, School of Agricultural Sciences, Prof. Johnny Mugisha.
The Dean, Prof. Johnny Mugisha launching the the club and project
Mr. Serumaga said the project is being implemented in four countries of Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with plans to extend to Ethiopia, South Sudan and Burundi. The participating universities in the four East African countries are the University of Rwanda, University of Nairobi, Muhimbiri University and Makerere University.
“We are having one common problem among us and the problem is while we churn out so many graduates, public sector can only take up a few. So we end up having so many of our graduates moving on the streets for jobs which is not going to happen. So the easiest way is to interest our youth to use their own skills to create their own jobs rather than seeking for employment after graduation.” Mr. Serumaga said.
Prof Felix Bareeba and Mr Paul Serumaga during the function
The major project funder according to Mr. Serumaga is Master Card in the United States. The preliminary stage of the project (2014-2016) has a budget of $ 350, 000 and $ 21,000,000 for the next eight years for follow up activities. The project structure involves a training component, curriculum development and linkages with banks to give start up loans to students.
“We are working with the Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) and it will give loans to the students. We already have collaborations and the banks will be available as long as students show that they have the potential to start their own businesses.” He said.
Other activities according to the project coordinator include mentoring activities which are paid for by the project for all students who would have started a business and outreach programs to different people within their localities who would have already started businesses.
“We also have an aspect on the university market linkage that involves us going into the market and looking at how to better those people who are already in business. For Makerere, SEE plans to open up a stall at Wandegeya market to be managed by students. Students will expose what they know and also help the community solve market problems like doing books of accounts”.
SEE East African cordinator M. Paul Serumaga speaking to students
Mr. Serumaga reminded students and all people who nurture them that East Africa’s population growth is so high with the unemployed young dependants taking a bigger percentage hence, the need to focus on the energy within to transform lives to make the future brighter.
The Dean, School of Agricultural Sciences Prof. Johnny Mugisha described the inauguration of the club and project at Makerere University as a golden opportunity for students to grab. Prof. Mugisha observed that unlike their days when it was only academics, passing the exams and looking for jobs, the current students are very lucky.
“You are starting at a very high footing compared to us. Here we are telling you that don’t look for jobs but go and create jobs and employ other people. Now that you have this opening, bring up all your ideas so that before you leave here, you are practicing entrepreneurship. The moment you leave the gates of Makerere, the environment might be different and you end up being a job seeker but if you start small while you are still here the situation is different”, the Dean advised.
Dr. Denis Mpairwe, Head Dept. of Agricultural Production conducts students through the voting exercise
Prof. Mugisha said the entrepreneurship club will be a platform where several speakers especially successful Small Scale Entrepreneurs will be invited to come and talk to students how they started so as to change their minds and to be innovative.
In consultation with the heads of departments, the Dean disclosed that they have agreed to put a display unit for students’ technology products at the school. He encouraged students to utilise it. Currently there is a unit at the school entrance that is serving coffee meant for display of students’ technologies.
“Whoever has a project or a product there is a shop for you free of charge. Whoever charges you for displaying your products please immediately report to me.” The Dean warned.
Prof. Mugisha also disclosed that the SEE project was in the process of acquiring two Television screens where videos of successful entrepreneurship can be played and also solve the problem of communication. He also said the school was going to acquire computers to enable students practice their ideas. He pledged to avail space for the screens and computers for easy access by club members.
Elected Club leadership members from programs across the school.Five formed the cabinet
The Dean noted that the SEE initiative fits well in the school activities where entrepreneurship has been emphasised. He informed participants that the school was reviewing the curriculum where entrepreneurship was being highlighted and designed as a cross cutting course for all undergraduate programs.
He pledged to synergise that SEE efforts with what the school was doing saying there was another platform at the school called CURAD that welcomes the students’ ideas and that if the business proposal is active the SEE will give training and CURAD will give seed money without running to the banks where the interest rates are high.
students register with Prof. Bareeba for the club cabinet posts
Prof. Mugisha re-emphasised the importance of the club and project as an opportunity to graduate from dependence and contribute to the wellbeing of students’ families. He observed that in the less developed economies, majority of the population are in consumption category rather production while at household level, 75% are consumers.
He pledged management commitment to give support to the establishment of an incubation centre to produce ice cream for internal and external consumption as proposed by the SEE project coordinator. He also recognised government support to youth initiatives and government policy which emphasises entrepreneurship where students businesses would fall.
Report compiled by
Communication Officer, CAES