Business start-ups flourish at MUBS, thanks to HEST project

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The Higher Education, Science and Technology (HEST) project is focusing on building Uganda’s human capital skills development capacity, particularly in education, science and technology, in order to respond to labour market demands and spur productivity. It aims at improving equitable access, quality and relevance of skills training and research, leading to job creation and self-employment. All these objectives were aligned to Uganda’s National Development Plan (2010/2011- 2014/2015), whose mandate was to make Uganda an industrialised economy by 2025, through the provision of higher-level skills. Makerere University Business School (MUBS) is one of the nine beneficiary universities of this project. Peter Simon Odoki, the deputy director promotions and public relations at MUBS, says HEST contributed to the construction of various faculties in the school.

Business computing faculty “The construction of the school commenced in June 2015 and was completed in June 2016,” Odoki says, adding that the project cost $2.2m. He says this is a great initiative because initially, the faculty was housed under another building. Though the faculty existed, it had no home. Two years later, the building got furnished with one of the best facilities. For example, 350 computers were installed in the labs, while 21 LCD projectors were also fitted to help student during lectures and tutorials. Fatuma Nakawooya, a lecturer at the faculty of applied computing and information technology, applauds the education ministry for considering MUBS to be a beneficiary of the ADB V project.

A multi-media studio, one of the projects funded by HEST at MUBs

“Before the commencement of this project, we had five labs, each with a maximum sitting capacity of 35 students. This meant that we had to divide the classes into shifts, which was hectic,” she says. Nakawooya adds that the establishment of a stand-alone, one-stop business computing facility has led to the creation of more learning space for the increasing number of students at the school. The new infrastructure has three computer laboratories, each with a sitting capacity of 80 students. However, Nakawooya expresses the need for more computers in the laboratories as some students still have to share sitting space, which hinders many from acquiring hands-on skills for a chance to get employment in a competitive world.

The auditorium and multimedia studio The faculty of business computing has four auditoriums and a multimedia studio housed in the same building. According to Odoki, the auditoriums are multipurpose halls used for events, such as meetings and seminars, as opposed to hiring space in hotels, which is quite expensive. Odoki says the facility has public address systems with 53 iPhones and 30 analogue microphones. These auditoriums have a sitting capacity of 300 people each, which gives a total of 1,200. The multimedia studio is soundproofed and fitted with modern equipment to facilitate the production of multimedia content for e-learning students. “The multimedia studio, too, has the capacity to produce high definition production, such as videos that advertise the university,” Odoki says.

Business incubation hub The construction of the business incubation centre began in August 2017 and was completed after six months. Like the other projects, the incubation hub received sh168m, which was used to set up ICT equipment, furniture, bugler proofing of the building and a lot more. Odoki says the centre has created a conducive learning environment for students who study business start-ups. “It handles enterprise developments aimed at preparing young start-ups and providing training in various facets for students who are starting businesses.” He adds that the contractors were sensitive to people with disabilities by establishing ramps and walkways that enable them to easily access the study centres.

“We strive to create an environment where business startups can flourish. Therefore, we impart knowledge to individuals with business ideas and give life to their businesses through business clinics,” Odoki says. Staff scholarships MUBS received a grant for capacity building amounting to sh235m. Consequently, 32 staff have benefited from scholarships to study masters and PhDs and eight have so far graduated from various universities, such as Moi University, Wits University, University of Johannesburg in South Africa, Makerere University, ICT University in Kenya and Nairobi University.

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