On Friday, 15th February 2019, the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe represented by the Principal, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) Prof. Eria Hisali launched the Entrepreneurship Seed Fund for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars and alumni of Makerere University. The Entrepreneurship Seed Fund will support Scholars and alumni to create economic opportunities within their communities through social ventures.
The Mastercard Foundation announced a seed funding of US$2,000,000 on 11th August 2018 at the Baobab Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, to implement the Foundation’s Strategy in Africa titled: Young Africa Works in the next two years (2018 to 2020). The strategy focuses on finding solutions to the youth employment challenge and reducing poverty in Africa. The Foundation believes that young people, especially Scholars, will drive and lead change in Africa and are already working hard to fulfill this vision.
Makerere a partner university with Mastercard Foundation received US$200,000 as an Entrepreneurship Seed Fund. According to the Coordinator of the MCF Scholars Program at Makerere University Dr. Florence Nakayiwa, the funding will be geared towards nurturing scholars to come up with social and business ventures. The funds will also help to deepen the development of skills and mindsets required of Scholars as transformative leaders, committed to improving the lives of others.
“The Program Implementation Team designed a seed funding framework to ensure that, the fund will have the greatest impact possible in developing the Scholars as transformative leaders, creating jobs and change through the business ventures. In some cases, Scholars’ ventures will also serve as a ‘transition’ vehicle for them to gain employment after graduating university through their ventures” she said.
The Internship and Entrepreneurship Coordinator of the MCFSP at Makerere University Mr. John Osuna said that the Entrepreneurship Seed Fund is open to all business concepts or social projects that have a high-growth potential, are profitable in nature, have the ability to create jobs and are scalable. The eligible business concepts or ideas include; innovations in Sustainable Agriculture, applications of the service or technological innovation, food processing, tourism, trading, renewable energy, fashion, education, health, artificial intelligence and scaling up existing concepts or ideas.
Mr. Osuna also mentioned that the Fund is ring fenced for the Mastercard Foundation Scholars and Alumni as Principal Investigators or Team Leaders, but the Scholars are encouraged to work with other non-Scholars (other students in at Makerere University) on profitable and social impact projects.
“The first cycle commences this month on 23rd February 2019 with a Social design course for 6 weeks among other development support inclusive of finance up to US$6,000 per project, and mentorship; the second cycle, will be in February 2020,” he explained.
Eligibility and selection criteria
- Scholars in their final year of study supported by the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Makerere University.
- Scholars must be the team leaders in a team of two to four people.
- Where the Scholars choose non-Scholars on their teams, the non-Scholars must be final year students at Makerere University and should not be more two per team.
- The business concepts or Social Venture Projects should be profitable, scalable and be able to create jobs for youth.
At the launch of the Entrepreneurship Seed Fund, Prof. Eria Hisali, thanked Mastercard Foundation for the bright idea that is going to change the mindsets of scholars towards business development. Prof. Hisali said that Makerere University has embarked on looking for work placements and opportunities that can support students’ social and business ideas.
“We have realized that unemployment is a big challenge to our students, therefore, we have embarked on seeking opportunities that can provide with students either jobs, or ideas to support their ventures. We are getting touch with the government to tap into the wealth creation programs that are geared towards helping youth. The University is revitalizing its Endowment Fund, and we believe that; as the funds grow, some should be channeled to these entrepreneurial activities,” he said.
He urged scholars to fully utilize the opportunity from Mastercard Foundation and build their entrepreneurial world. He further called upon students and other youth to tap into the government programs when he said, “as long as you are organized, and this support will be availed to you.’’ He emphasized. To the Scholars and Alumni, access to the seed fund is going to be a competitive process. Therefore, to the business projects that succeed I wish you the best in your new enterprises and to the ones that do not succeed, I believe the skillset acquired during the development support will place you in a better position to pitch your projects to other organizations in Uganda and beyond for funding.”
Mr. Ronald Edward Mukasa, the Business Development Manager at Enterprise Uganda, encouraged young entrepreneurs to always be innovative and flexible. In a presentation he made, Mr. Mukasa called upon scholars to pay attention to the 3Cs (Care, Competence and Character) when preparing to join the business or social venture sector. According to him, the business world is looking for people who can find problems and look out for the solutions. He therefore said that someone’s passion matters when engaging in business.
“The reason one goes to school is to discover him or herself. Have passion while working on your ventures and be exceptional. The new environment has space for someone that has an excellent idea. People are willing to pay attention to someone who is good at what he or she is doing. Therefore, you need to go beyond wearing a jersey and be able to score a goal,” he advised.
At the same function, the Vice chancellor launched the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program (MCFSP) Alumni Association; a network that brings together graduates of MCFSP at Makerere University to share opportunities in academics, employment and entrepreneurship among activities. The Principal Public Relations Officer of Makerere University Ms. Ritah Namisango encouraged students to fully utilize all the available volunteering opportunities, since this will help them to accumulate the much needed experience as they transition from the academic to the professional work environment.
The Scholars Council Representative on MCF Mr. Petere Ngobi and the Alumni Association Representative Mr. Charles Katuramu encouraged scholars to always take up leadership positions and develop their societies.
Guests were entertained by a remarkable poem from Mr. Andrew Mubezi; a Scholar from CoBAMS, as well as a team of Scholars from Lane256.
Article Written by Public Relations Office