Who Are the Business Role Models for Our Youngsters? [opinion]

All Year 12 and Senior Five students at the school where I work are required to operate a business for one month as part of our career guidance syllabus.

At the end of the month, when businesses have to close, each student is assessed and the best business is awarded. Profit, financial records and how the business has solved a need plus a daily journal are key areas in the assessment criteria.

The national budget presented last week clearly shows that we are not anywhere near the developed world to which President Museveni aspires for within the next 20 years. About 60 per cent of income is predicted to come from internally generated funds, through tax. It is hoped that the balance may come from borrowings, treasury bills or other sources and donor aid. Since the passing of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, donor aid has significantly decreased.

Consequently, everyone should be interested and keen to spur my Year 12 and Senior Five students on to great success with their entrepreneurship projects. The bulk of the internally generated monies are taxes from imports. Interestingly, a significant majority of the students on the project wish to trade. Fortunately for many, this is a candidates’ Prom-Season, so the young entrepreneurs are able to offload fashion items.

However, many are realising that their businesses cannot last a month, especially since all the promotions are now concluded. It is not just my students suffering from lack of business ideas andor critical thinking. Robert Kabushenga and Vision Group’s Pakasa series have shown that many Ugandans want to do business. Many are yearning for work but have no idea of how to go about starting or running a business.

It is hoped that Pakasa seminars can be rolled out to the entire country to unleash the business potential of many Ugandans. So, where are our role models in business?

The great Mulwana passed away, but there must be others. I wish that the long-awaited census will reveal Ugandan businesses that are more than 20 years old. Or even more than ten years, or five! The challenge we have in Uganda is that we want the money a day after the business has started or in a month’s time… maximum one year!

Sometimes it is difficult to be inspired by others in business. Many businessmen regale us with stories of grisly hurdles they have endured to win a government supply or service contract. Sometimes despite great effort, the contract does not come your way. The stretch from Kibuye to Zana on Entebbe road is characterised by a long double-sided metallic grille, separating lanes going to and from downtown Kampala.

For some reason, policymakers have not seen it fit to paint this grille with reflective colours that would last a year or possibly two. Where there is a problem, business will flourish. So, it seems that two contracts have been awarded: one to wash the grille regularly and the other to paint the kerb below in the traditional black and white block colours, synonymous with posh roads since colonial times.

Most people who use Entebbe road will smile wryly at the above description. The colours on the kerbs cannot last long since a good number of roads off the main Entebbe road are not tarmacked, with down streams filled with dirt whenever it rains.

The metal grilles are indeed scrubbed regularly but alas not with a detergent. Energetic workers give their all to bring a shine to the Entebbe road grilles, using soaked cloth with a sprinkling of sand. On standby lately is an Isuzu truck with sand for the workers to use along the road stretch.

Does this mean that we should soon look out for a contract to clear the sand, since, as we know, business does flourish where there is a challenge!

This last example is presented with tongue-in-cheek. Contain yourself if you know the place. A contract was awarded for gardening services in a posh area of the city last October. Basically, the work required the planting of grass and flowers pluswith creative designs. The work is still uncompleted to date, yet the KCCA workers are able to plant grass and flowers in a day or two. Can such a contract earn one money or riches?

Perhaps we all need lessons in business to positively influence and inspire our youngsters! Thereafter, the Budget Speech day may be more welcome.

The author is one of the founding Kigo Thinkers

Source : The Observer

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