Connect with us

Business & Management

The Role of E-commerce in Commercializing Entrepreneurship Ventures at Mak

Published

on

E-commerce, the process of buying and selling goods using the internet, is a great facilitator of trade. Owing to the reduced cost of doing business – in most some cases there is no need for a physical shop, increased efficiency – orders and stock are easily tracked, and increased access to geographically distant markets, E-commerce has become a game changer for businesses that have adopted it. Unfortunately, student entrepreneurs at Makerere University have not been keen to make the most of this avenue of doing business.

According to a team of researchers led by Dr. Hellen Namawejje from the Department of
Statistical Methods and Actuarial Science, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), less than 10% of the business enterprises exhibited at the 2018 Annual Students’ Entrepreneurship Expo organized by the College were using pure e-commerce. With partial e-commerce, goods and services are sold through internet, but hand-delivered to customers while with pure e-commerce, all the process involved are digital.

Dr. Patricia Ndugga – Department of Population Studies

The team, with funding from the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF), therefore sought to understand this low uptake through a study titled “Commercializing of Entrepreneurship Ventures using E-Commerce: Evidence from Makerere University, Uganda”. Other members of the research team were; Dr. Proscovia Katumba-Department of Marketing
and Management, CoBAMS, Dr. Patricia Ndugga-Department of Population Studies, CoBAMS, Mr. Augustine Ssekyondwa, Directorate of E-Government Services, National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U) and Dr. Isaac Shinyekwa-Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC).

Dr. Proscovia Katumba – Department of Marketing
and Management.

Speaking at the dissemination event held in the CoBAMS Conference Room and virtually on Thursday 17th December, 2020, members of the Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) in attendance thanked Government of Uganda for the generous funding that enabled the research team to conduct studies that can help address youth unemployment in Uganda. They equally paid tribute to the Chairperson GMC, Prof. William Bazeyo for his negotiation skills that influenced the Government to allocate the funding.

Mr. Augustine Ssekyondwa, Directorate of E-Government Services, National Information Technology Authority-Uganda (NITA-U)

“With 70% of youth in Uganda currently unemployed, this study will be of great assistance in addressing this pertinent issue,” remarked Dr. John Mutenyo, a GMC Member. “I urge you to disseminate these findings widely so that the youth can know that there are other avenues through which they can get employment” he added.

Dr. Mutenyo reminded the audience that the call for RIF 3 (the third round of Mak-RIF funding) will go out early next year and urged them to prepare good proposals that can attract Government funding especially in research areas that address NDP III (the Third National Development Plan) and the SDGs.

“Entrepreneurship and E-commerce are currently big players in the economy of any country in the world. I believe that these findings are not going to end here but will be taken down to potential users and hopefully help them. This will boost the impact that we ought to see from these research funds” added Dr. Isa Kabenge, another GMC member.

When it comes to understanding business ventures, it is always advisable to hear from an established practitioner. E-commerce ought not to be the exception. Delivering a brief keynote address, Makerere University alumnus and Founder, Xente Tech Limited, Mr. Allan Rwakatungu paid tribute to his alma mater and the research team in particular for taking steps to bring more Ugandans into the digital economy.  

Xente is a platform founded in 2016 with a vision to make every person and business join the digital economy. “The opportunities out there are immense, not only for users of the platforms but also for entrepreneurs who are able to harness them” shared Mr. Rwakatungu.

Taking an example of Jumia, he noted that although the company controls less than 3% of the total retail market in Africa, it is worth billions of US dollars. “To show you what that actually means, the percentage covered by Alibaba is about 25%, and when you look at the size of the Chinese market, the opportunities for growth are immense” he added.

According to Wikipedia, the Alibaba Group recorded a net income of US$ 19.82 Billion in 2020 and had over 117,000 employees as at 31st March 2020.

Addressing participants, the Dean School of Business, CoBAMS-Dr. Godfrey Akileng observed that the current disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic have provided us all with an opportunity to rethink how we can better manage and do business. “Those who will not embrace international electronic payment systems will struggle as the pandemic continues to sustain itself.”

He added that the mix of entrepreneurship and e-commerce presents students of business with an opportunity to reflect further on the contribution of these areas to development. “Uganda is considered among top ten most enterprising countries in the world but unfortunately, the demise of these business startups is very high. I hope this research will help us illustrate how e-commerce can find a lasting solution in terms of sustainability of these firms.”

Giving an overview of the project, Dr. Prossy Katumba identified absence of delivery infrastructure and secure payment methods as two major barriers to the wider acceptance of E-commerce in Africa. “Several countries lack an organized physical address system, and cash on delivery is the main payment method that online merchants such as Jumia, SafeBoda, Café Javas, Xente among others must deal with.”

She added that the entrepreneurship course offered to all undergraduate students at the Schools of Economics and Business, CoBAMS as well as Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and Masters of Economic Policy and Management students equips them with skills that enable learners to start their own enterprises.

“We have some success stories that have come out of this entrepreneurship course such as Dalausi Juice in Wandegeya, which has become a must-have at high-end parties” shared Dr. Katumba. “This thriving business was birthed out of a simple coursework idea” she added.

Dr. Katumba equally made mention of Andrew Mupuya, who as a result of his course work in entrepreneurship went into the production of recycled paper, “and has as a result won many awards from various international organizations and been featured on CNN – we encourage our students to start small and grow their ideas into a formidable business,” she explained.

Presenting the findings, the Principal Investigator-Dr. Namawejje shared that 796 out of 1,320 students that took part in the 2018 Entrepreneurship Expo were surveyed. 47% of these were female while 53% were male. 77% of participants were below the age of 24 while 23% were aged 24 years and above. In terms of origin, 38% of participants were from the Western region, while 32% were from Central, 16% from Eastern, 8% from Northern and 6% either from other regions or of different nationalities.

Technology is an essential driver of e-commerce uptake. 88% of the 796 respondents used smart phones, while 52% used laptops, 4% used either desktops or tablets and 9% had no device to use. The high percentages recorded in the use of smart phones and laptops could imply that some respondents used more than one device.

Additional drivers of E-commerce uptake reported included; the Annual Students’ Entrepreneurship Expo that enabled budding entrepreneurs to practice what they had learnt in class and a regulatory environment that was conducive to doing business online – there are no restrictions imposed on entrepreneurs who posted their products and services on various platforms. The natural shift of businesses online due to the COVID-19 pandemic was also another driver of e-commerce uptake by both entrepreneurs and customers.

The findings further revealed that entrepreneurs employed three main models of E-commerce; Business to Customer (B2C), Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Government (B2G). At 80%, B2C had the largest share while B2G was understandably at only 1%. “Owing to the capital intensive nature of doing business with Government, we did not expect the B2G model to feature prominently in our findings” explained Dr. Namawejje.

At 95%, the use of Social Media Platforms dominated the channels employed by students to reach their customers. This was followed by Websites at 21%, Email at 18%, Mobile Short Codes (SMS Codes) at 4%, Word of Mouth at 1.8% and Making Calls at 0.8%. Platforms such as Facebook have already taken advantage of this trend by introducing Facebook Shops – enabling businesses to create online stores on Facebook and Instagram free of charge.

Despite the availability of free options for entrepreneurs to easily embrace e-commerce, it became apparent to the research team that some barriers were impeding this. The lack of e-commerce knowledge topped this list with 73% of entrepreneurs citing it. This was followed by the high cost of internet at 67%, Lack of access to gadgets at 54% and Poor Internet connections at 49%. Trust and cyber security issues were cited by 45% of respondents while Conservatism among community members accounted for 20%.

To help boost the commercialization of entrepreneurship ventures using e-commerce, the research team made the following recommendations at policy level;

  1. Government should provide subsidized or free Internet to Makerere University to enable students easily utilise online platforms for generating and nurturing entrepreneurship ideas and projects.
  2. Taxes on e-commerce enablers such as Internet and smart phones should be reduced as a way of attracting business enterprises especially the start-ups to take up e-commerce in their operations.
  3. Government should support building of e-commerce infrastructure at Makerere University since it’s a Government institution.

The dissemination event was moderated by Dr. Anthony Tibaingana from the School of Statistics and Planning, who last week disseminated his findings on “The impact of Skilling the Youth and Women in Household Enterprise Start-Up and Performance in Uganda”.

Article by Public Relations Office

Business & Management

Business owners trained on social media usage in business operations by Makerere University Researchers

Published

on

Dr. Kasimu Sendawula (L) shakes hands with one of the officials after the research dissemination workshop at St. Joseph’s Inn Virika-Fort Portal on 29th September 2022.

On Thursday 29th 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 Sendawula.

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 their businesses.

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 and 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).

Continue Reading

Business & Management

MBA Shortlist for Graduate Admission Test (GAT) 2022/2023

Published

on

An aerial photo of L-R: The Main Library, Central Teaching Facility 2 (CTF2), School of Economics and School of Business (CoBAMS), Makerere University, Kampala Uganda.

The Academic Registrar, Makerere University, invites all shortlisted candidates who applied for the Master of Business Administration (MBA) programme offered at Makerere University Main Campus; College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) for academic year 2022/2023 for a Graduate Admission Test (GAT).

The test is scheduled to take place on Saturday 27th August, 2022 starting 9:00 AM at CoBAMS.

Further information can be accessed by following the link:

Shortlist for Graduate Admission Test (GAT) 2022/2023

Continue Reading

Business & Management

Hon. Baryomunsi Launches Book with Pledge to continue Supporting Research

Published

on

Hon. Chris Baryomunsi signs a dummy of the Book "Academics, Research and Leadership in Institutions of Higher Learning: Experiences from Makerere University" signifying its launch on 29th July 2022.

The Minister for ICT and National Guidance, the Hon. Chris Baryomunsi today July 29, 2022, launched a book authored by 20 researchers of Makerere University.

The book titled “Academics, Research and Leadership in Institutions of Higher Learning: Experiences from Makerere University” details the research and training experiences of some academic units in Makerere University. The programs analyzed in the book include training of statisticians, population scientists, quantitative economists among others. The book documents past, present and emerging issues in training and research in the above fields. The book, according to Prof. Ben Kiregyera who gave the keynote address, makes the case for strengthening the infrastructure for training and research including technical and administrative leadership. The book also looks at the acquisition of new knowledge, strategic skills and competences in different disciplines to meet the 21st century development and data challenges.

Hon. Chris Baryomunsi challenged researchers to engage in new research areas such as robotics, nano-technology, big data, Internet of Things and integrate them in our day to day lives.
Hon. Chris Baryomunsi challenged researchers to engage in new research areas such as robotics, nano-technology, big data, Internet of Things and integrate them in our day to day lives.

Hon. Chris Baryomunsi, also a former lecturer in the department of population studies said the government would continue to support research and innovation because they drive development of the economy. “What we need to do better is engage policy makers in our research processes,” Dr. Baryomunsi advised. “Your research needs to inform government but you also have a role of simplifying statistics to the public”. He challenged researchers to engage in new research areas such as robotics, nano-technology, big data, Internet of Things and integrate them in our day to day lives.

Prof. Henry Alinaitwe, the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Finance and Administration, who represented the Vice Chancellor, applauded the authors of the book, saying they are greatly contributing to the research agenda of the university. He said the book will go a long way in informing decision making in the university, as the university moves into becoming a research led university.

Prof. Henry Alinaitwe delivers the remarks on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.
Prof. Henry Alinaitwe delivers the remarks on behalf of the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe.

The Principal of the College of Business and Management Science, Prof. Eria Hisali, who was represented by the Deputy Principal Prof. Bruno Yawe, congratulated the authors and editorsfor a job well done. “This is yet another reminder that a lot can be achieved when we are determined and when we choose to work closely together,” the Principal said.

The Principal told the authors, most of whom were drawn from CoBAMS that the college will be launching a special purpose vehicle for policy engagements called the Policy Labs. This will bring together policy makers, implementers, private sector actors, development partners and the academia to engage on topical policy issues. It will enable researchers to share the recommendations with a wider audience of policy makers and implementers.

Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi (2nd L), Prof. Eria Hisali (R) and other officials at the Book Launch.
Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi (2nd L), Prof. Eria Hisali (R) and other officials at the Book Launch.

The Director of Research and Graduate Training, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi also congratulated the authors and reemphasized the university’s commitment to supporting research geared at finding home grown solutions to society challenges.

The coordinators of the book project, Prof. Abel Nzabona, shared with the audience the 5-year journey of writing the book.

The journey started in June 2018 when Prof. Ronald Wesonga (in the company of Dr. Fred Maniragaba) mentioned that he had a book idea and wanted Prof. Nzabona to coordinate the writing process. Prof Ronald Wesonga’s idea of the book was an academic document that was researched, evidence-based, informative, marketable and interesting to read. The team then set out on a journey or writing, vetting, peer-reviewing and manuscript writing, identifying editors and publishers. 

Part of the audience at the Book Launch.
Part of the audience at the Book Launch.

“We started off with just 4 chapters but never gave up. We intensified the popularization of the book idea and eventually reached the 15-chapter mark,” Prof. Nzabona said. The team was delighted to have been joined by colleagues from the College of Education and External Studies namely Dr David Onen and Prof. Fred Bakkabulindi.

The vision bearer and funder of the publication, Prof. Ronald Wesonga, in his remarks highlighted the objectives of the book which included:

  1. To Share evidence-based, data-driven experiences pertaining academics and research leadership at Makerere University.
  2. To Infer how leadership shapes academics and research outputs at universities
  3. To Provide viable recommendations based on findings from different studies
  4. To Contribute to the Mak@100 celebrations

The book Prof. Wesonga shared addresses the following research questions:

  1. What is the effect of leadership on excellence in academics? Addressed in seven chapters: {4,5,6,7,9,10,12}
  2. What is the effect of leadership on research outputs? Addressed in six chapters: {2,3,8,11,13,14}
One of the Book Authors, Dr. Anthony Tibaingana.
One of the Book Authors, Dr. Anthony Tibaingana.

The book employed the following methodology:

  1. Teamwork and networking
  2. Primary and secondary data sources
  3. Literature Search
  4. Mixed Methods
  5. Descriptive and Inferential Approaches
  6. Quality Standardization and Flow (Abstract, KW, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, Conclusion & Recommendations)

According to Prof. Wesonga, the book’s unique attributes include:

  1. First ever in the history of Mak to demonstrate impeccable teamwork and network with 20 contributing authors
  2. Pioneering book in Mak history that focuses on leadership audit
  3. Proven data-driven scientific approach
  4. Baseline for various monographs, yet to come soon
  5. First book to be internationally demanded before its launch
Hon. Chris Baryomunsi (5th R) poses with officials and some of the authors at the Book Launch on 29th July 2022, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University.
Hon. Chris Baryomunsi (5th R) poses with officials and some of the authors at the Book Launch on 29th July 2022, Yusuf Lule Central Teaching Facility Auditorium, Makerere University.

THE AUTHORS

  1. Anthony Tibaingana
  2. Abraham Y. Owino
  3. Mwanga Yeko
  4. Fred Maniragaba
  5. Ronald Wesonga
  6. John Mushomi Atwebembeire
  7. Abel Nzabona
  8. John Paul Tugume
  9. Christian Kakuba
  10. Charles Lwanga
  11. Ishmael Kalule-Sabiti
  12. James Ntozi
  13. Edward Musoke
  14. Richard Tuyiragize
  15. Fabian Nabugoomu
  16. John Bosco Asiimwe
  17. Yeko Mwanga
  18. Paulino Ariho
  19. Fred Edward K. Bakkabulindi
  20. David Onen

EDITORS:

  1. Fredrick Ruguma Tumwine
  2. Fred E. K. Bakkabulindi
  3. James Ntozi

Continue Reading

Trending