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MBA Students Pitch Business Ideas to Professionals

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Masters of Business Administration (MBA) 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, Ms. Barbara Kasekende of Uganda Development Bank and Dr. Peter Turyakira of Makerere University. The three were speaking during the first Graduate Entrepreneurship Breakfast Pitch held on 9th April 2022, an occasion that allowed students to present business ideas following a months of research in their respective communities.    

The Entrepreneurship Breakfast Pitch event under the theme “Rethinking Entrepreneurship” gave MBA 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. Juliet Namuddu from KCCA addresses the audience
Ms. Juliet Namuddu from KCCA addresses the audience

Ms. Namuddu the Director of Education and Social Services at KCCA, 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.” 

Judges & Panelists: L-R; Mr. Joseph Monroe, Mr. Robert Semakula, Ms. Barbara Kasekende, Dr. Peter Turyakira and Ms. Juliet Namuddu
Judges & Panelists: L-R; Mr. Joseph Monroe, Mr. Robert Semakula, Ms. Barbara Kasekende, Dr. Peter Turyakira and Ms. Juliet Namuddu

The pitches made included the following; 

List of students Projects

No Project Description 
1FruitMaxEnabling longevity of ripe fruits (Tomatoes)
2Yimusa Enfuna yoTraining 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
3Gagawala Project Improving banana produce
4Nze Wuwo – Biziyo
Mobile App
Creation of mobile phone app to capture inflows and outflows and provide simplified financial reports
5SmartLabsMobile Vet services
6Akatale ko (Your Market)Reliable market for farmers
7UgacraftSetting up an Art-hub to standardize crafts for export
8Yoyota Emwanyi Yo Improving coffee post-harvest handling and coffee processing
9EverGranariesEstablishing improved granaries for sustainable food security and improved household incomes
10NCD Facility Reducing prices for Non-Communicable Diseases drugs through aggregated demand and reduced prices
11Agago Wetland RegenerationReclaiming the Agago wetland
12Gorilla Rush Promoting and creating awareness of Gorilla tourism
13MySafeBuilding financial sustainability for the informal sector and the diaspora
14LapTops4DevContributing 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. 

Some of the MBA students applaud during the Pitch.
Some of the MBA students applaud during the Pitch.

“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 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 Keynote 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. 

Dr. Cathy Mbidde (standing) and Dr. Sarah Bimbona (clapping) celebrate their students
Dr. Cathy Mbidde (standing) and Dr. Sarah Bimbona (clapping) celebrate their students

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.

Prof. 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. Kakumba 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.” 

MBA Students listen to the presentations
MBA Students listen to the presentations

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 Executive Director of Microfinance Services Centre, representatives from Sumz snacks, Bee Mine Honey among other entrepreneurs. 

Judges

  1. Ms. Dorothy Katantazi
  2. Mr Robert Semakula 
  3. Dr. Ibrahim Okumu 
  4. Mr. Joseph Monroe 

Business & Management

Public officers urged to ensure value for money

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Prof. Eria Hisali (Front row black suit) with some of the facilitators and public officers attending the training conducted in Jinja by the Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University.

The Principal of the College of Business and Management Sciences, Prof. Eria Hisali, has called on public officers to ensure that the country gets value for money from government project. Prof. Hisali was speaking in Jinja during a training of public officers conducted by the Public Investment Management Centre of Excellence at CoBAMS.  The officers are undertaking Basic Training in public investment management.

Prof. Hisali said the University was happy to provide the training in an effort to enhance the capacity of all public officers to prepare development projects and help them understand the cycle of PIM.

“We want you to be equipped with the tools to enable you prepare a good project that will meet the standard of government’s development projects,” he emphasized.

Participants listen to one of the facilitators.
Participants listen to one of the facilitators.

He said he hope that the course will enable public officers to align their projects with the operational frameworks of government. “You will learn what qualifies a project to be a development project or a recurrent project. Eg the chart of accounts, program implementation plan of NDPIII.”

The manager of the PIM Centre of Excellence, Dr. Willy Kagarura, said the centre was in 2016 tasked by the World Bank to develop capacity of all public officers. The centre has designed developed courses at 3 levels ie. Basic Training in PIM, Intermediate and Advanced level training.

“Today, we are conducting the first level, which should be undertaken by all public officers,” Dr. Kagarura said. The course, the Centre manager said emphasizes project preparation and covers project concept note writing, project profile, Integrated Bank of Projects (IBP) and feasibility studies.

Some of the participants in session.
Some of the participants in session.

One of the trainees, Ms. Apio Priscilla from Uganda Electricity Transmission Company Limited said the training has given her insight into PIM and also knowledge to improve presentation of project concepts and profiling.

The 4-day training, conducted in collaboration with MoFPED and National Planning Authority has drawn participants from different ministries and government agencies including URA, IGG, Mulago Hospital, NCHE, Diary Development Authority, National Population Council, Kabale University, UTB, MoFPED, Office of the President, UBOS, UEGCL and Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development among others.

Going forward, the centre will conduct the intermediate training in January 2023.

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Mak implored to research into the Centralization of Forest Governance in Uganda

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Participants posing for a group photo after the policy dialogue at the Mpigi District Headquarters on 22nd November 2022.

Mpigi District Local Government and stakeholders in the forestry sector want Environmental economists from Makerere University to conduct research into the impacts of centralizing the governance of national forests in Uganda.

According to section 54 (1) a of the National Forestry Act, 2003, management of all Central Forest Reserves is the mandate of National Forestry Authority (NFA) whereas that of Local Forest Reserves is the direct responsibility of the district forest officer as specified under section 48 (3) e of National Forestry Act, 2003. All forestry activities are guided by the National Forestry Policy 2001.

Poor forest governance has been blamed for the depletion of the ecosystem in Uganda. The people of Mpigi contend that since government mandated NFA to manage national forests, most of the forests have been depleted and they want national forests governance decentralized.

A section of the panelists contributing to the discussion.
A section of the panelists contributing to the discussion.

To achieve this districts officials and stakeholders say, Makerere University should conduct research into the impact of centralizing national forest governance to provide evidence for policy change. This call was made during the policy dialogue held at the district chambers organized by the Environment for Development Initiative (EfD-Mak) Centre on 22nd November 2022. The university team was led by the Director represented by Dr. John Sseruyange.

The meeting brought together representatives of the district political and technical arms, civil society organizations, the private sector, elders and opinion leaders, farmers leaders under the theme, “Forestry and Biodiversity: Addressing Challenges of Forest degradation and Enhancing Environmental Management in Uganda”.

The participants discussed the key governance issues in the forestry sector, how communities can  be strengthened to participate in forest recovery programs and what best forest restoration mechanisms should be adopted to revert the forest destruction trends in Uganda.

Dr. John Sseruyange representing the Director EfD-Mak centre.
Dr. John Sseruyange representing the Director EfD-Mak centre.

 Governance here referred to,  “the norms, institutions, and processes that determine how power and responsibilities over forests are exercised, how decisions are taken and how citizens – including women, men, youth, indigenous people and local communities – secure access to, participate in, and are impacted by the management of forests”

Presenting the status of forests in  Mpigi district, the  Chief Administrative Officer represented by the District Natural Resources Officer Mwidyeki Anthony said the management of forests in Mpigi has been so challenging and has on a number of occasions raised many issues involving NFA, the district and the community living adjacent to the forests.

EfD-Mak centre research fellows Dr. John Sseruyange (Left), Dr. Alice Turinawe (Standing) and Fred Kasalirwe during the meeting.
EfD-Mak centre research fellows Dr. John Sseruyange (Left), Dr. Alice Turinawe (Standing) and Fred Kasalirwe during the meeting.

“It should be noted that, the once thick forests in Mpigi district which had a collection of Muvule, Setaala, Musizi and other indigenous tree species have and are still gradually being reduced to empty land or replaced with eucalyptus trees for many reasons.

The natural forests reported that indigenous species that had survived for ages are now being abruptly ruined. This tragedy has befallen all the natural forests in Mpigi, a district once blessed with a wide range of biodiversity. Most natural forests in Muduuma and Kiringente have completely gone”, Mwidyeki submitted.

Mwidyeki  explained that all the central forest reserves in Mpigi district with exception of Mpanga forest have been faced with the problem of encroachment in form of cultivation, grazing and settlement while in  most of all the reserves, conflicts resulting from unclear boundaries are very common and  have sometimes resulted in court cases leading to loss of time and money.

Mr. Mwidyeki Anthony speaking during the dialogue.
Mr. Mwidyeki Anthony speaking during the dialogue.

The vegetation cover of most Central Reserve Forests in Mpigi according to Mwidyeki have been changed into eucalyptus plantations, boundary markers uprooted, increasing forest encroachment, land grabbing and conflicts between NFA staff and communities living adjacent to these forests.

Besides population pressure that has increased the demand for fire wood, charcoal and land for settlement, Mwidyeki alleged that there has been creation of illegal land tittles in these reserves, construction of roads and industrialization.

Mwidyeki however highlighted a number of initiatives undertaken  to promote forestry. These included; Sensitization and training of communities in forestry management, distribution of tree seedlings across the district, establishment of the district nursery bed, training and supervision of nursery owners on acquisition of quality tree seed and conducting routine inspections to detect and deter illegal forestry activities.

Maria Lubega (Left) interacts with the opinion leader Frank Kawooya (Right).
Maria Lubega (Left) interacts with the opinion leader Frank Kawooya (Right).

Representing the Director, EfD Mak Centre, Research Fellow Dr. John Sseruyange underscored the importance of forests as major stores of atmospheric carbon contributing to the regulation of climate change, water quantity, mitigating the effects of high flows in wet periods and low flows in the dry periods.

He said forests contribute to soil and water protection and biodiversity conservation and supply well over 90% of Uganda’s energy requirements in the form of fuel wood.

“Sustainably managed forests give environmental benefits, sustainable economic development and improve the quality of life of people across the country”, Dr. Sseruyange said

The Deputy RDC Maria Lubega (Left) listens as the District Police Officer contributes.
The Deputy RDC Maria Lubega (Left) listens as the District Police Officer contributes.

Sseruyange reported that the Uganda forestry sector reforms (1998 – 2003) aimed at providing more efficient and effective forest administration, management and utilization of Uganda’s forest resources, through: The Forestry Policy (2001), The National Forestry Plan (2002),

The NFTPA (2003) and a new institutional framework for the management of forestry resources in the country.

These resulted in the birth of institutions such as: The NFA, the UWA, the DFS, private forest owners and community forests owners which distributed responsibilities between the central government, local government agencies, the private sector, NGOs, community based organizations and the local communities.

EfD-Mak Data Manager Fred Kasalirwe giving a brief about the centre.
EfD-Mak Data Manager Fred Kasalirwe giving a brief about the centre.

The reforms according to Sseruyange aimed at promoting multi-stakeholder participation, transparency, integrity and professionalism in management of the forestry sector.

“Despite these good intentions, the forest estate in Uganda has continued to shrink from 4.9 million hectares in 1990 to currently 2.3 million hectares, NFA (2015) a loss of over half of the forests in a span of 25 years. …. However, over this period, 46% of protected woodlands- mostly those under NFA, were lost.

The reasons for this decline are mostly attributed to poor forest governance, and particularly problems with forest law enforcement and governance, and associated institutional issues” , He stated.

EfD-Mak Data Manager Fred Kasalirwe interacts with the police commander after the meeting.
EfD-Mak Data Manager Fred Kasalirwe interacts with the police commander after the meeting.

The main causes of deforestation according to Dr. Sseruyange relate to issues of governance in the forestry sector, illegal and unregulated trade of forest products and the unsecured forest tenure rights. Other issues are the conversion of forest land to other land use types such as agriculture and urbanization, and rampant felling of trees for firewood and charcoal burning.

In her closing remarks the Deputy Resident District Commissioner Maria Lubega described  the dialogue as timely,  thanked the university for  choosing Mpigi, pledging  the district commitment to support efforts  geared towards  restoring the environment.

Lubega wants an evidence based report on forest governance from Makerere University for presentation to the relevant government organs.

Deputy RDC Maria Lubega delivering her closing remarks.
Deputy RDC Maria Lubega delivering her closing remarks.

“Two weeks ago, the President sent someone from his office to come because he was interested in the environment restoration, and we are working on this report. When the report about this dialogue is ready share with us because it is timely, and I shall share with it directly with the president because NFA is just an authority and the other one is a fountain of honor so we shall take our views to the president”. She said.

Participants speak out

During the panel and plenary discussions participants expressed the need to decentralize the management of all forest reserves to the district.

“The forest sector is the least funded. Officers vehicles get stuck with no fuel. The moral fabric of the people of Mpigi is filled with, I don’t care attitude. NFA has been nicknamed as “nfa” meaning I am dying.  NFA efforts are not coordinated with the district office. The District Natural resources officer should have been a member of NFA, there is a lot of political interference while implementing policies with orders from above”, The District Senior Entomologist Onyango Oluoch decried.

The District Forestry Officer Ssengendo Micheal says the major issue is governance.

“When you look back, the forests were intact and management was proper. All regulations were being followed. With the new changes in the policy of 2001 when they brought in NFA, that is where we all lost it because there was confusion and no coordination because of the bad governance.

The first thing we need to do is to revert back the old system. We need to have staff at every level. We need the forest guards, forest rangers but all these were reduced by two per district which is really over whelming when it gets to implementation of our forest management”. 

Nsamba Benon, a Political leader says, districts had powers to safeguard forests but more damage has been done when powers were shifted from local government to central government.

“Ever since NEMA took over, there is a very big damage on our forests as compared to long ago. It is our mandate to protect the environment. The business of centralizing powers has done more harm than good to our country.

It is possible to bring all stakeholders to board to protect the environment but it cannot be possible if people are seeing non-residents cutting away indigenous trees planting and owning eucalyptus trees. The biggest issue here is policy. It should  be reversed and our Forest Officer takes charge”.

Opinion leader, Frank Kawooya says the laws are weak and segregatively applied to a few.

“These laws are weak. Those who are supposed to manage forests cut the forests and replace them with eucalyptus. Now we see that forests have begun being shared. Am touched,  in the past forestry students at Makerere would not be awarded degrees without coming to study in Lwamata forest . Today no child ever comes to study because forests are no more.”

Frank Kawooya and other three panelist during the policy dialogue.
Frank Kawooya and other three panelist during the policy dialogue.

The District Environmental Police Commandant  says those mandated to guard the forest are the ones that cut the trees. He is opposed to the idea of replacing natural forests by eucalyptus and says enforcement is also problem.

“In 1924 we had an inventory for counting trees in Masaka.  We counted trees about 2000. There is a forest called Buzilango but, of recent when went there, I found that there are people living there. It was no longer a forest for government. Forest guards are the ones who cut trees and sell to bakeries and schools. Eucalyptus is not good because they drain water at a high speed and, were introduced by industrialists who wanted to build industries.

But we of enforcement have a problem. You go and see a person with a car carrying timber and there is no legal document showing. When you stop the car, you will hear the person referring you to talk to another person.  Sometimes there is collaboration with NFA and timber dealers connected from above. I suggest the powers should be brought back, decentralize forest reserves so that districts own, oversee and manage the forests. We need to sensitisize masses to look beyond financial gains but the future generation because in 50 years, we may not have any natural forest”.

A representative from the NGO forum called for sensitisation of the people on district and national forests.

“Different roles must be emphasized. Demarcations for individual, district and national forests must be emphasized. After sensitization they will know the species to plant”.

The District Farmers’ Chairperson Stella Nantamba says farmers are in weather crisis.

“Farmers rely on land. Soil is infertile, weather patterns have changed and many have resorted to forests and wetlands. Information given to farmers is distorted and weather changes are adverse Intervention requires adoption of agroforestry for environmental conservation and food security”.

But for teacher Emmanuel, charity begins at home and community. Sensitization form the community level will help children internalize the importance of forests.

“There is need for mindset change of those mandated to protect the environment so that children learn from them. Privatization of forests should be discouraged to save forests”, he said.

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Statistics week: Using data to improve agriculture

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The Academic Registrar, Prof. Buyiza Mukadasi gives his remarks at the Conference on 17th November 2022, Makerere University.

School of Statistics & Planning rewards staff

The School of Statistics and Planning yesterday rewarded and recognized the contribution of some of its staff members. This was during a conference organized to make the world statistics week.

Those recognized for their contributions included, Dr. Abraham Owino Yeyo, Dr. Chris Ndatira Mukiza, Mrs. Agnes Ssekiboobo and Mr. Godfrey Nabong.

Mrs. Ssekiboobo receives her plaque.
Mrs. Ssekiboobo receives her plaque.

The school was joined by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics in organizing the conference under the theme “Strengthening data systems by modernizing the production and use of agricultural statistics: informing policies with a view to improving resilience in agriculture, nutrition, and food security in Africa”.

Speaking at the opening of the conference, Prof. Buyinza Mukadasi, who represented the Vice Chancellor, said it is important to use agriculture statistics to inform better planning that can cause transformation in the entire agriculture production chain.

He advised that the school should we endevour to align the academic programs to the UN 2030 SDGs to ensure that we optimally contribute to the achievements of the SDGs alongside other National Development frameworks such as the National Development Plan III, Parish Development Model, Vision 2040, and African charter 2063.

Dr. Wokadala speaks.
Dr. Wokadala speaks.

“What separates good decisions from the bad ones is the fact that the good ones are informed by right data and evidence,” Prof. Buyinza emphasized.

He called on the students to be innovative so that they can contribute to the transformation of the country. Prof. Buyinza appreciated UBOS for partnering with Makerere University.

The Dean School of Statistics, Dr. James Wokadala said the marking of the Statistics week reminds statisticians of their responsibilities to facilitate the production of relevant statistics to inform decision making, develop methodologies, and generate new knowledge and nurture the Statistics Cadres globally.

Mr. Godfrey Nabong receives his plaque.
Mr. Godfrey Nabong receives his plaque.

Mr. Godfrey Nabongo, the Deputy Director of UBOS called on universities to improve the way they teach statistics by teaching students how to integrate data and use UBOS data to create new innovations in statistics. He urged the decision makers to develop a statistic mentality which demands that decisions are made based on scientific evidence or numbers. He called on participants to have a student mentality by maintaining curiosity, being innovative and quick to learn. Mr. Nabongo said UBOS was moving towards strengthening collection of administrative data rather than census.

Dr. Chris Ndatira Mukiza  receives his award.
Dr. Chris Ndatira Mukiza receives his award.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Abraham Owino called on UBOS to provide data about markets and products in order to help farmers and consumers. He said it was also important for the country to carry out annual surveys. He said the SDG of ending hunger by 2030 is a far cry because of the increasing food security. He therefore called on UBOS to provide data that can help us make decisions geared towards changing for the better. He said people need to know how much food is needed for a country to qualify as a food secure community. “We need a paradigm shift to start discovering problems together and how to move ahead,” Dr. Owino said.

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