Friday May 30 2014

Unesco STEPs to other varsities

The students in the juice-making project bought

The students in the juice-making project bought fresh fruits to sustain their business. FILE PHOTO 


The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) has resolved to roll out the Students Training for Entrepreneurial Promotion (STEP), to other universities.

Under the programme which is currently implemented at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi, students in groups of five are facilitated with Shs200,000 each to start their own small businesses which they run alongside their usual lectures. This is aimed at equipping university students with practical skills even before graduation.

Mr Augustine Omare –Okurut, the secretary general, Uganda National Commission for Unesco said if other universities can embrace the programme, it will offer students business management skills after school.
According to Mr Omare-Okurut, it is only skilled graduates who can startup their own businesses, create jobs and employee others –a culture they want to inculcate among students.

“As we look for more funding for the programme, we are going to talk to authorities in other universities to convince them to embrace this programme,” he told Jobs and Career this week, adding “We expect them to help the students to create sustainable, successful businesses which will create jobs and add value.”

He was echoed by Fr. Edward Anselm Ssemwogere, the coordinator of the programme at UMU, who said many businesses fail because proprietors lack skills.

“We give them tips on how to write business proposals, marketing and customer care, identifying opportunities, book keeping, and raising capital.”

Shaping job creators

During the first two trainings conducted so far, students have been clustered in five groups with each choosing small business to undertake, including t-shirt design and fruit juice making
Ms Juliana Mulindwa, a former student at UMU who was in the fruit juice business said the experience gained, shaped them to start our own businesses.

According to Fr. Ssemwogere, during the course of the trainings, 78 per cent of the businesses made profits, 15 per cent registered losses while seven per cent were not established .

The programme is also supported by the Leuphana University of Luneburg in Germany.

Every year, universities churn out thousands of graduates who can’t create their own jobs and due to limited slots in the labour market, remain jobless. A few who have managed to start their own jobs are excelling and have become role models for others.