“Wasuze otya, ssebo?” “Nasuze Bulungi.”
This is the “good morning” that I used to exchange every morning with Peter, the gate keeper of the Uganda Martyrs University Resource Centre in Rubaga, Kampala, where I’ve spent three months of internship thanks to E4Impact Foundation. The language used is “Luganda”, the main dialect spoken in Kampala and one of the many dialects spoken across the country.
But let me start from the beginning. My name is Davide Capitanio and I’m a student of Management at the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Milan. The decision to go to Kampala emerged from a desire of doing something different from the conventional internships that were proposed in Milan. In addition, I wanted to see a part of the world that I had never seen, getting in touch with a completely different culture.
E4Impact in Uganda has an MBA project focused on training impact entrepreneurs. This is very interesting and commits very well to the needs of the Country. In effect, Uganda is the country with the highest rate of entrepreneurship, 28.1% (Approved Index of 2015), making it the most entrepreneurial country in the world. The problem is that 98% of the start-ups fail after one year from their launch. For this reason, programs like E4Impact become extremely important due to the mere fact that they manage to give entrepreneurs a more solid ground from which they can build their businesses.
Among my tasks, I had to help the entrepreneurs with the transformation of their business idea into a business plan, through lessons and one-to-one meeting sessions. This allowed me to combine clerical work with visiting the rural areas of the country, since the sessions were often scheduled directly on the sites of their businesses.
This way of working turned out to be very appealing to me, as it allowed me both to enter into better relationship with the businesses and to spend whole days in close contact with local entrepreneurs and consequently with their thoughts and culture. But above all this was the chance for me to understand what Churchill said: “For magnificence, for variety of form and colour, for profusion of brilliant life — bird, insect, reptile, beast — for vast scale — Uganda is truly the Pearl of Africa.”
Two of the many cultural differences that struck me most, in addition to the concept of women and of family, were the concept of time and no anticipation for the future whatsoever. I’ve been catapulted from the hectic reality of Milan to the one more relaxed of Uganda, where the concept of time is completely different. In Uganda it seemed that everyone took a more laid-back stance in regard to life, being able to keep their cool even amongst the nerve-racking traffic jam that really put me to the test.
Regarding the non-farsightedness, it struck me because despite the fact that Uganda has all the premises for a thriving development, thanks to the particular climate that allows two harvests and a very high entrepreneurial rate, people are satisfied with what they already have and don’t worry much about the future.
Thanks to the MBA, I had the opportunity to meet people who genuinely want to work for this country and make a significant impact on the society, starting from the E4Impact business coaches and above all the students of the Master’s program.
As final activity of my internship, with my colleagues Alessio and Andrea, I have organized an event for all the students of the course. This was designed to encourage networking amongst them and try to expand their range of action, so as to involve more and more people.
In conclusion, the country needs entrepreneurs like those met and needs programs that give useful skills. We must continue!