Too often, young people are attracted to business for sheer profit or simply as a means of survival. But an entrepreneur is simply a problem solver.
Entrepreneurs are nothing if they are not meeting the needs of their customers. Profit is only but a reward of that effort which comes as an end result of passion, diligence and commitment.
It is against this backdrop that Vision Group has organized the 7th Pakasa Youth Forum. The function, which is free-of-charge and will be televised live on Urban, is slated to take place on Saturday April 9 at Kampala Parents School off Lugogo Bypass in Naguru from 9:00am to 2:00pm. University students and leavers as well as high school leavers (vacists) are particularly encouraged to attend.
The theme of the forum is “Service, not profit, as a basis for venturing into business.”
Distinguished businessman Capt (rtd). Abhay Agarwal, Chairman, Service & Computer Industries Uganda (SCIU) Group will give a keynote address on the subject while four panelists will engage the audience on the topic and other aspects of business.
The panelists will be led by Dr. Barbara Ofwono Buyondo, Principal, Victorious Education Services Limited. The other three are young entrepreneurs - Rachael Naijuka, the managing director, Ramo Ushers; Erisa Nkoyoyo, managing director, Stone Roofing (Uganda) Limited and Abubaker Musuuza, co-founder and Chief executive officer, Village Energy
“Working in partnership with AIESEC in Uganda, we came up with a theme that would emphasize social responsibility as an important aspect of business right from the early stages of business,” said Hajjara Batuku, Vision Group’s marketing manager (print).
AIESEC in Uganda is part of the 100,000-member AIESEC, the world’s largest international youth-run organization. It brings youth together with business leaders, thought leaders, and experts for a conversation around pressing issues with the aim to generate new, but most importantly, actionable ideas that will impact the society.
Batuku said research has often showed that businesses that set out to solve social needs or fill gaps in the community stand a greater chance of survival than money-oriented ones because they had a solid foundation.
“As such, we went out and looked for panelists who exemplify this. Dr. Ofwono Buyondo’s contribution to the education sector is well documented. She has one of the most powerful testimonies of a very successful business person whose initial drive was a passion to bring about positive change in pre-primary education,” she said.
“In the process of providing quality education, she won over the confidence of parents who increasingly entrusted her with their children. Today, she has managed to build an empire of schools.”
Two of the youth panelists (Rachael Naijuka and Erisa Nkoyoyo) took part in our just concluded Pakasa Youth Awards. In their line of business, both of them responded to a need or took advantage of a gap in their communities.
The Pakasa Youth Awards which were launched at the last Pakasa Forum in September last year have been running for the past year to seek out exemplary young entrepreneurs from all over the country. The project is aimed at inspiring a mindset among young people in Uganda to regard entrepreneurship as an alternative means of making a livelihood in the face of rampant youth unemployment.
Who will be speaking at the Pakasa Forum next week?
On April 9, Vision Group in association with AIESEC in Uganda, a youth-based organization that operates in universities, will host its 7th Pakasa Youth Forum. The function, which is free-of-charge and will be televised live on Urban, is slated to take place on Saturday April 9 at Kampala Parents School off Lugogo Bypass in Naguru from 9:00am to 2:00pm. Fireworks Group chief executive officer, Caleb Owino, will moderate the forum whose theme is “Service, not profit, as a basis for venturing into business.” Below SEBIDDE KIRYOWA profiles the speakers at the forum – the keynote and panelists.
Capt. Abhay Agarwal, Chairman, SCIUG Group
In 1991, Abhay Agarwal quit a corporate job in India to come to Africa solely on a whim as a tourist. He was not looking for better opportunities; he just wanted to experience the land he had fallen in love with earlier as a young man visiting on college holidays from India. He came with nothing. Today, he owns a multi-million dollar empire that ranges from Service & Computer Industries, the leading Information Technology solutions company in Uganda; Kwality Afroasia, a pharmaceutical plant and retail chain; Tamarai, Kampala’s only Pan-Asian restaurant; ASA, Uganda’s only aluminum foil industry and also owns acres of pines and eucalyptus with a view to setting up a paper industry. He is also the Honorary Consul of Philippines in Uganda as well as the President of American Chamber of Commerce in Uganda.
Dr. Barbara Ofwono Buyondo, Principal, Victorious Education Services Limited
In 1999, out of sheer passion for teaching and child welfare, Barbara Ofwono Buyondo sought to make a difference in early childhood learning. She mobilized sh1m and started a kindergarten in an old three - bedroom house in Old Kampala with 30 pupils. With the help of funds from a cooperative saving scheme and major banks, she has slowly built her dream into an empire - Victorious Education Services, a multi-billion shilling business offering quality education from early childhood through to primary school. She has over 4,000 pupils to date. She was recently awarded an honorary doctorate in Business Administration from Baytown University.
Rachael Naijuka, MD, Ramo Ushers
She lost both her parents in car accidents at an early stage. Growing up without parents meant that she had to get creative to survive. Compelled by a need to raise upkeep money while at university, she decided to take advantage of her cordial nature to make money since she had no capital to start business. She mobilized her fellow girls at university and started a small company called Ramo Ushers that hired out ushers to event organisers. Today, Rachael Naijuka, 24, employs about 80 young women and men.
Erisa Nkoyoyo, MD Stone Roofing (U) Ltd
He has broken the tradition of using iron sheets and tiles to roof houses. Nkoyoyo uses stones to roof houses. Being the first and only one of its kind in Africa, Erisa is so hopeful that his innovation will make him a millionaire soon. He began with sh120, 000 with which he bought full uniform and then walked the streets in search of clients. Although his idea was first rejected by pretty much everyone he approached, Nkoyoyo was resilient. Today he this 28-year-old runs construction projects worth sh100m at any given time and employees up to a staggering 198 young people.
Abubaker Musuuza, Co-Founder and CEO, Village Energy
A former Ashoka East Africa program manager, Abu co-founded Village Energy in 2009. Originally focused on manufacturing and distributing solar systems, he pivoted to this new model in late 2014, for which he has been selected as an Ashoka fellow and Echoing Green fellow. According to the model, Village Energy boosts access, affordability, and trust in solar energy by building a solar technician and retail shop network to fix and sell solar products in rural Uganda. They recruit and train young men and women as technicians and entrepreneurs, setting them up as franchisees with their own branded repair & sales shop. These shops are supplemented by a network of phone-charging micro-entrepreneurs equipped with PayGo systems who will also act as referral sales agents. Abu is an Acumen East Africa and Unreasonable Institute alumnus, and a graduate of Makerere University.