Mbarara University gets $50,000 grant to start business incubation centre

By Kenneth Agutamba

Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) has received a $50,000 grant from the African Development Bank (AfDB) to help transform entrepreneurship training through establishment of a business incubation centre.

MUST and USSEIN University in Senegal will receive this funding under a new initiative dubbed: "Sharing Innovations and Experiences from Korea for Higher Education Transformation in Africa (SIKET)."

SIKET is an initiative of the 129-member organization, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) whose secretariat is based at Makerere University.

RUFORUM is currently piloting the SIKET initiative at its two member universities, Uganda’s MUST and Senegal’s USSEIN with support from AfDB and Korea-Africa Economic Cooperation (KOAFEC).

Anke Weisheit, a senior lecturer at Mbarara University and a co-founder and chair of the Innovation & Business Management of Pharm-Biotechnology and Traditional Medicine Centre (PHARMBIOTRAC) thanked AfDB for the support.

Weisheiten said with the US$50, 000 grant, PHARMBIOTRAC will establish a natural products business incubator working with at least five incubates.

Professor Adipala Ekwamu, RUFORUM’s executive secretary said the interventions under SIKET are in line with the organization’s mission of ‘fostering innovations that are responsive to some of Africa’s leading challenges.’

"African economies are not creating enough jobs to match the number of young people graduating every year. Entrepreneurship can play a significant role and that is why we are implementing SIKET with support from AfDB and KOAFEC," said Prof Adipala during a a training of some of the people who will benefit from the grant.

Dr. Alice Mweetwa, RUFORUM’s deputy executive secretary for Programme Development & Implementation, said the training is aimed at strengthening and ultimately transforming entrepreneurship education training through business incubation centres.

Annet Nyakaisiki, a Director of Barista house, which will benefit from the grant said she was always stressed with the word business plan but the facilitator made it really easy to understand.

"Now I know that what I really need is a business strategy that can always adapt to the business environment changes," she said.

Doreen Nzaire Kalimba, a Master's student in Pharmacognosy and Natural Medicine Science at Mbarara University and one of those set to be enrolled in the business incubation centre said her main take away from it was how to harness her potential and creativity to see the problems around her as opportunities for which she can innovate business solutions to solve people’s challenges.

All participants that successfully attended and completed the weeklong course received certificates in "entrepreneurship training and business incubation" and will be seen as knowledge pioneers to promote a new format of training in a bid to entrench an entrepreneurship mindset among university students.

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