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.
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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.
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.