By Vanessa Kyalimpa
Healthy rather than destructive competition in business is what Jack Klenk, a Uganda Christian University (UCU) Partners board member, prescribes. In addition to the necessary knowledge and skills, one should follow the “ethics and values” of business to achieve success, he says.
“You do not succeed in business if you are only competing with other people; you have to work together and things come to you voluntarily, including customers,” Jack said recently, during an online interview from his home in the United States. The interview was based on his activities with UCU Partners and UCU.
He noted that a good business system is competitive, but not in the sense of hurting other people in order to be successful. So, to do entrepreneurship, you need not only the practical skills, but also the ethics, and that’s where a coach or a mentor comes in handy, he counsels.
“The UCU incubation hub should be an avenue to cross-pollinate business acumen, which is abundant in Uganda, with Christian values, and then entrepreneurship will flourish,” Jack says, referring to the application model under UCU’s School of Business.
“I hope it (the incubation hub) will prepare people with the skills to do well in a competitive environment, and not with the purpose of hurting other people, but rather to do your very best in order to help other people and glorify God.”
Jack’s involvement with the Anglican Church in Uganda dates back to 1964, when he first came to Uganda after an opportunity opened up to study at Makerere University and to be a teacher.
Since then, Jack has visited Uganda countless times, with his latest trip being in October 2022, to be part of the activities to mark UCU’s 25 years of existence.
Growing up in a Christian family, Jack says the virtues he learned had a big influence on his decision to come to Uganda. Since his family was involved in missions, they would have missionaries frequently stay at their home and at their church.
“We would always be hearing about what God was doing in other countries; this was very formative for me growing up,” he said. “When I went to the university, I had other involvements that helped me to understand and appreciate cultures of other countries; I even had a roommate from Uganda.”
He says he knew full well that he was not just an American, but also a Christian who had to be involved with other Christians to serve the Lord, and, therefore, when it was time to visit Uganda, he did not find it difficult to make the decision.
Jack describes Uganda as a “very friendly country” and he says he was overjoyed to discover so many brothers and sisters in Christ in the country.
“When I first came to UCU before Prof. Stephen Noll became the Vice Chancellor, the situation was very different from what it is right now,” he said. “The university has since expanded in numbers, in facilities, and in its impact on the country, and all those things have been wonderful to see.”
Although growth is linked to challenges, Jack says the most important thing is that UCU is centered on God, as the Alpha and the Omega, something which sets the institution apart. He says the institution will remain a special university and continue to make an impact in the country and beyond if it retains that special identity.
Everything we do is a divine calling, and so does Jack consider his involvement with UCU. Although some people are called in a very particular way, for instance, the prophets, he said that he has been called to follow through with his role as a Christian and a servant of God.
Through the members of the UCU Partners board, and the organization’s Executive Director, Mark Bartels, Jack said they are much involved in several activities in the university, and now UCU Partners has even taken on the Uganda Studies Program, where Americans come and study at UCU.