By Kefa Senoga
In a bid to instill a positive attitude towards entrepreneurship among students, the Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Business (SoB) has introduced an International Entrepreneurship Summer Camp to understand what it means to do business in Uganda.
According to Aston Aryamanya, one of the coordinators of the program, the camp was initiated as a result of UCU’s collaboration with Hanze University in the Netherlands. He said the camp is fully funded by the Hanze University Foundation.
“One of the key areas of our collaboration with Hanze is entrepreneurship and promoting practical skills; this is where the idea of starting up this camp emerged,” says Aryamanya, a lecturer in UCU SoB.
From the ideation stage, Aryamanya said SoB has been working with the team from Hanze. However, for this particular camp, the students from Hanze will not participate, though they will be expected in the subsequent ones.
To get the students to participate in the camp, which took place from August 21 to September 1, a call was sent out to those in SoB to submit proposals, which they had to defend before a select committee.
Out of the exercise, 17 students were selected, with representatives from all courses in SoB —Business Administration, Human Resource, International Business, Tourism, Procurement, Accounting and Finance, Economics and Statistics.
Aryamanya said at the end of the camp, held on the Mukono campus, all the participating students were expected to come up with bankable and fundable business proposals.
“The key issue we are addressing in this training is educating the students to value their customer or consumer, to get to know what they need, what their problems are and how they can be addressed,” Aryamanya explained.
At the camp, the students were expected to visit the country’s body in charge of investment, the Uganda Investment Authority, to understand the policies that govern doing business in Uganda. Experts from the country’s business registration agency, the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) were also lined up to talk to the students about patent rights, copyrights and registration. Also, the students were expected to visit the country’s taxman, Uganda Revenue Authority, as well as Uganda Industrial Research Institute for further mentorship.
While addressing the participating students and the SoB staff during the opening of the camp at the UCU business hub, Christa Oluka, the Director of Academic Affairs at UCU, asked the participants to embrace the opportunity provided to them at the training if they wanted to create, and not seek jobs.
Oluka urged the team to find ways of solving community challenges, without necessarily duplicating what already exists. She expressed optimism that future camps will involve students from beyond SoB to be able to help them embrace the idea of entrepreneurship.
The Associate Dean of the SoB, Elsie Nsiyona, asked the students to identify what they have so that they can be able to leverage their competitive advantage.
Bulya Maria Anthony Cindy, one of the students who attended the camp, noted that she expected to learn a lot about the processes of business development and to be guided on the journey of generating ideas and bringing them to life.
Brian Muwanguzi, another student, expressed excitement about the diverse opportunities the program offers. He noted: “This kind of program allows us to explore various sectors and uncover unique ideas.”
Early this year, top managers from UCU and Hanze signed a partnership that was expected to lead to the setting up of an innovation hub at the UCU main campus in Mukono.
At the event, Vincent Kisenyi, the Dean of the UCU SoB, said the hub would widen the school’s scope of operation in training and empowering students by creating an avenue of engaging with the outside community.
In April last year, Prof. Aaron Mushengyezi, the UCU Vice Chancellor, visited Hanze University, where he established stronger ties with the institution’s administration.