September 5, 2023



Ugandan athletes in World University games in China

By Kefa Senoga
When 33 student athletes from 10 Ugandan universities met in July to flag off participants to a global sports competition, one of the items on the agenda was to select the team captain. The athletes were heading to China’s Chengdu city to compete with students from more than 150 countries in the World University Games. 

Santos Okabo, a Uganda Christian University (UCU) student in the School of Business, was chosen as team captain. Okabo, who had never been to a world competition, competed and guided others at the July 27-August 8 event in China.

Okabo (left) with UCU head of sports, Sam Rukaiire (middle), and another athlete
Okabo (left) with UCU head of sports, Sam Rukaiire (middle), and another athlete

Okabo says his duties as captain included representing the team and country in meetings and other leadership engagements during the games. He also was expected to report to the organizers any challenges that Ugandan team members faced during the competition.

As expected, the second-year diploma student of business administration says one of the benefits he got as team captain was the opportunity to interact and share experiences with other team leaders, including sharing contacts with some of the leading athletes from other countries.

At the games, Okabo participated in three races – sprint race of 100 meters and two relay races of 4×100 meters. In the sprint race, where he emerged 6th out of 8, Okabo says he had hoped to perform better, but that two days before the race, he got sick, largely because he was not accustomed to the food being served in China. 

He is, however, grateful that they were able to reach the finals in the 4×400 meter relay race, which he participated in with Chan-wengo Godfrey from Makerere University’s Business School, Akemkwene Peter from Ndejje University and Eyit Justine of Makerere University. In that race, the team broke the university national record for Uganda. 

Other UCU students at the competition

Okabo was not the only UCU student at the competition. Olipa Sharif competed in two races of 200 meters and the 4×100 meter relays. However, he and his relay teammates did not make it to the next round. 

Okabo (back, left) during the relay race
Okabo (back, left) during the relay race

The third UCU student at the competition was Nyamahunge Jacent, who got eliminated in the semifinals. In the preliminaries, Nyamahunge had emerged third in the 100 meter race for women. The athletes said UCU supported them by financing their requirements while in the camp, including paying for their air tickets.  

According to Timothy Kabuye, the coach of the student athletes and one of 20 officials who went to China with the Ugandan athletes, the team could have performed better. 

“Nyamahunge Jacent made it to the semifinals in her category even with a foot injury, Okabo ran a personal best while Olipa ran the second fastest best time in the 200 meters that he participated in,” Kabuye explained.

Next on the calendar of the UCU athletes is the Uganda inter-university competitions set for December.

Olipa Sharif and Santos Okabo after the race
Olipa Sharif and Santos Okabo after the race

At the Special Olympics World Games held in Abu Dhabi in 2019, Nyamahunge won Uganda its first gold medal in the 200 meters race, beating her closest challenger, Mayak Kimura of Japan, by more than four seconds in a lopsided race. 

She is also a double gold medalist in the 200 meters and 100 meters at the 2015 Special Olympics World Games. 

The other Ugandan institutions that had students at the event in China were Makerere University, YMCA, Bishop Stuart University, Gulu University, Ndejje University, Kyambogo University, ISBAT University, Makerere University Business School and Victoria University.

Okabo says he has been an athlete throughout school. While at Amuda Primary School in northern Uganda Okabo says he emerged the best runner in the Dokolo district, earning scholastic materials and a mattress as a gift. 

“After my primary education, I joined Dr Obote College Boroboro in Lira district on bursary. Upon joining UCU, I was also given a bursary,” Okabo explained.

He says his parents — Otile Oscar and Apollo Milly — were good runners during their youthful years, and so are four of his seven siblings.


UCU School of Business Celebrates International Entrepreneurship Success

By Irene Best Nyapendi

On September 1st, we celebrated the achievements of the students who participated in the Uganda Christian University (UCU) School of Business International Entrepreneurship program.

This unique initiative is a result of UCU’s collaboration with Hanze University in the Netherlands. It was created to nurture a positive business mindset in the students and provide them with the necessary skills and outlook to excel in entrepreneurial endeavors.

The two-week program started on August 21st, under the theme “Innovation for Enterprise Sustainability” with 17 students from various programs. They were divided into five groups, namely: Avo Grow, Ticket Buddy, Tidy Up, Cultural Quest, and Bright Ear.

Each group received certificates and medals for their participation, but the Bright Ear team stood out as the best group after pitching a fundable business proposal. Kristina Nabatanzi, Divine Wabasa, Arthur Ronald Apire comprise the Bright Ear team. Their exceptional ideas demonstrated outstanding innovation, viability, value proposition, market research, and presentation skills, and they were awarded golden medals. They are also gearing up to put their ideas into action this September, marking the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey.

UCU’s Arthur Ronald Apire’s Entrepreneurial Journey

Arthur Ronald Apire, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Human Resource Management and a member of the Bright Ear group notes that their journey was tough yet fulfilling. At the start, their idea faced criticism, which could have discouraged them. However, they chose to learn from their mistakes and the advice of their critics.

“This is the first time in my life I have won a medal. At first, we used to fail; we made a lot of mistakes, but it’s the advice from these critics that we chose to use, and it surely helped us get here.” Apire said.

He says that throughout the program, he gained the ability to adapt and collaborate effectively with individuals who shared a common objective, he acquired the skills of cost reduction and revenue generation. Additionally, Apire learned the importance of flexibility and collaboration, and he also gained insights into managing expenses and increasing revenue.

As a team, they presented an idea for a multimedia library that included audio books, and they developed an audiobook narrating the tale of Nambi and Kintu.

“People often encounter challenges when it comes to reading, so our initiative aims to address this issue by incorporating audio and visual materials, making it easier for students to enhance their academic performance,” Apire explained.

Linda Maat, the Director of Hanze University, who joined the event virtually from the Netherlands, expressed her enthusiasm and urged the students to keep working on their ideas.

“Congratulations to all the students who pitched their business ideas, and especially to the winners; you need to continue working on these ideas,” she said.

She also mentioned that she would come to UCU soon and is curious to see these students at the next level.

“It would be wonderful to see all the students already maybe in the next level. I am really curious where these students will be in four to six weeks from now,” Maat said.

Eva Joselyn Aluka, a third-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Tourism, described the Program as the most productive two weeks of her life. She found it both challenging and enjoyable. “It was both hectic and enjoyable. During the program, we played assimilation games that taught me to think so fast,” Aluka said.

Each group had a mentor, and Aluka expressed gratitude for the valuable knowledge and skills her mentor imparted. Through the presentations, she learned how to effectively pitch a business idea and win support.

Before this program, her knowledge of pitching ideas was limited, but now she feels confident in her presentation skills and understanding of how to prepare for pitching.

Christa Oluka, the Director of Academic Affairs at UCU, appreciated the judges for validating the students’ efforts. She emphasized that entrepreneurship is something that can go from small to big as you refine it.

“Thank you for investing in yourselves as young people. I was happy that you thought about meaningful problems and how you can think together to bring those things out,” Oluka said.

She also encouraged them to put themselves out there and take advantage of this and other opportunities.

The winners pose for a photo with their facilitators. (From the left to right) Martin Kabanda, Kristina Nabatanzi, Divine Wabasa, Arthur Ronald Apire and Aston Aryamanya

This initiative has not only equipped students with essential skills but has also instilled in them the mindset needed for entrepreneurial success.

As these students embark on their entrepreneurial journeys, we look forward to seeing their innovative ideas become impactful realities in the coming months. It’s important to note that the next program is scheduled for July of next year.