Students from sixteen schools in Kampala Metropolitan showcased their environment smart businesses
Secondary schools from Kampala and Wakiso districts have showcased business ideas that can help them to generate money but at the same time conserve the environment in a competition that will see the winning team get facilitation of US$3,000 for the conceptualization of their idea and six months of mentorship.
Jessie Junior Lufafa, a student at Agha Khan High School says that his team is making paper bags out of cow dung in order to solve the problem of cutting down trees to make paper from timber.
Lufafa, who explains that a colleague connected them to farmers who offer them free dung, says that they figured out that the fiber in the trees is what is used to make paper but cows also eat grass that has fiber in it. When they tried out the idea, it worked although he explains that they need a few other raw materials to make their paper bags strong.
While Agha Khan is making paper bags, some schools are making juices whereas others are engaging in urban farming among others. This competition according to Rachael Mwagale, the Executive Director of Junior Achievement Uganda is meant to help students to become enterprising by thinking about an idea and developing it into a business with proper facets of keeping records, marketing the products, and ensuring good management since students are supposed to buy shares in a particular business in order to take part.
Mwagale says none of the sixteen student businesses that are taking part in the competition were given any start-up capital as the source capital is one of the areas examined to award winners. She says the challenge most students face is incorporating project management skills in their businesses.
In the competition, she says company executives were required to demonstrate that they understand how and why the company performed as it did and judges look for evidence of overall performance through innovation and the application of new ideas in all aspects of running the company. They also look for an understanding that continuous improvement through innovation is essential to the success of a business.
This is also at the heart of the revised curriculum by the Ministry of Education, which promotes hands-on skills. In an earlier interview with URN, George Mutekanga, the Assistant Commissioner in Charge of Private Schools and Institutions who attended the event where students were showcasing their ideas said they are looking at young people whose ideas are climate-smart, can create jobs, and address other critical needs of the country.
This is, however, a global competition where Uganda and Nigeria schools were selected from Africa to represent the continent but they will later join students from Brazil, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Mexico, and Vietnam to ideate and innovate creative solutions on the theme of “doing business that doesn’t hurt the environment”.