Learn how innovative ideas of the youth are transformed into viable business ventures - Diana Ntamu, Director of the MUBS Centre for Entrepreneurship

 

Ernest Wasake: Good Afternoon Diana, and I hope this finds you well. The Covid-19 Business Info Hub is happy to have you with us. Could you tell us your name and what do you do?

Diana Ntamu:  Thank you and it is my pleasure to be here. My name is Diana Ntamu. I am the Director of the MUBS Centre for Entrepreneurship Innovation and Incubation. I am also a senior lecturer at MUBS in the Department of Entrepreneurship. MUBS is the Makerere University Business School – a leading institution in management, training and research within the East African region. The institution provides training at Certificate, Diploma, Undergraduate, Masters and PhD level offering degrees from Makerere University. 

Ernest Wasake: Would you tell us about the MUBS Entrepreneurship Centre and the support that you have provided to businesses to grow and be competitive? 

Diana Ntamu: The Entrepreneurship Innovation and Incubation Centre was established in 1998 to support the development of entrepreneurs in the country after recognizing their role in driving business growth. At the establishment, it was known as the Small Business Development Centre that supported businesses through training and business clinics. It grew over time and in 2005 it became the Entrepreneurship Centre supporting not just small business development but the growth of entrepreneurship. About four years ago, the African Development Bank supported the establishment of incubation centres at public universities in Uganda and MUBS Entrepreneurship Centre was transformed into the Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Center. Its five focus areas include business incubation, training, provision and dissemination of information, research and consultancy.

The centre believes that individuals have unique ideas and need support to turn them into businesses. These individuals are guided through training, participate in enterprise challenges and then assigned mentors and coaches to develop the business ideas.  I am very happy to mention that we have partnered with Stanbic Bank Business Incubator to provide training to different entrepreneurs and I thank them for a great job. We also conduct research studies that generate important information for the programs that we are running. Recently we conducted a study on the resilience of Ugandan entrepreneurs in the face of Covid-19 and [entrepreneurs] shared interesting stories and experiences on how they managed the situation. 

 

Ernest Wasake: Would you give us a snapshot of what you discovered about the resilience of entrepreneurs from the Covid-19 research? 

Diana Ntamu: Well, in the Covid-19 research we defined resilience as the ability for the entrepreneur to adapt to or embrace change. 

Businesses that seemed to have thrived during the time are those that sought new opportunities coming with the challenge and changes of Covid-19. For example, there was a business in the education sector that embraced technology and took their whole school curriculum and services online. The school was able to teach their students, attract students from other schools and also identify new needs of these students.  

 

Ernest Wasake: Can you tell us about how the center has supported young entrepreneurs during the pandemic? 

Diana Ntamu: The pandemic hit us hard in the beginning but still managed to offer support to the young entrepreneurs by providing information and a platform to share their experiences. 

First, we run a survey to establish the entrepreneurs’ needs during the lock-down. After establishing these needs we linked them to their mentors to continue giving them support.  Secondly, we shifted the monthly innovation hour from a physical meeting to an online meeting. During this hour the young people were able talk about innovations but also learn from experienced entrepreneurs who shared their journeys. Although online participation was sometimes affected as some young people did not have internet access all time we also got a testimony of a young man in agro-processing who got knowledge and tips on how to sell online and was able to get market for his products which he did not have before.

 

Ernest Wasake: What can be done to increase the level of participation of young people in entrepreneurship? 

Diana Ntamu:  To increase the level of participation of young people in entrepreneurship a lot still needs to be done. 

 But first, is helping young people understand that entrepreneurship allows them to create their jobs and not face the challenges of the labour market. Second, the need for coordination and commitment of the players supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem. A well-coordinated ecosystem will deliver a holistic package including training, finance, mentorship, coaching among others.  Another aspect is bringing on board role model entrepreneurs both young and old who have walked the journey to share and inspire the youth. It is also important to create challenges, exhibitions and competitions that get young people to think and become innovative so that their potential and wonderful ideas get to be known. Finally, handholding of these entrepreneurs and helping them access financial support at a certain stage to grow their businesses.

 

Ernest Wasake: What is the admission criteria to the centre and what does it take to be part of the incubation programs? 

Diana Ntamu: Admission to the become part of the entrepreneurship centre and incubation program is a very easy process. 

Send us an email on entre-shipcentre@mubs.ac.ug and our program officers will help you.  You can also call us on; +256414338125/6 or like us on Facebook –MUBS Entrepreneurship Centre and get to know our activities.  To join the incubation program individuals with innovative and impact ideas are selected and supported.