Hi, my name is Sofia Zanello and I’m attending the 2nd year of a Master of Science in Management at Bocconi University. The experience I had in Uganda with E4Impact wasn’t my first time in Africa. I had already been to Tanzania twice in the past two years and for this reason I thought I knew what to expect. However, what I found in Uganda really surprised me and I wish I hadn’t had to leave so soon.
In Kampala I had the opportunity to work with the local team at Uganda Martyrs University for two months and I couldn’t ask for a better way to spend my summer holiday. They welcomed me very kindly and taught me a lot about both the program and Ugandan culture. I have to admit I knew very little about this MBA before travelling to Uganda, and I knew almost nothing about social entrepreneurship.
I spent the first month working together with another intern from Università Cattolica, who had been in Kampala since May, and he really helped me a lot to acclimatise and understand what my job was about. Very important was also the support from the local staff. The second month I worked entirely with the local team, which included the program leader, the business coach, the administrator and a coaching assistant.
I established both a good professional and personal relationship with all of them. We also enjoyed some time together after work, one day having dinner, another day tasting home made African beer at some local friends’ house. We went to the beach in Entebbe, visited the main Campus in Nkozi and had the chance to attend interesting events outside the city, where we met entrepreneurs interested in the program and did networking.
As I mentioned, before the 6th of July I knew almost nothing about entrepreneurship. At Bocconi University, I’ve never had the chance to follow a course in entrepreneurship and I was really curious to know what this entire world was about. This internship was the perfect opportunity to learn more.
A teacher of mine used to say: “Some people are born to be entrepreneurs, it’s something that come from within. Entrepreneurship can’t be taught at school”. He was right and I believe this is also the thought of E4Impact, given its motto “We don’t teach entrepreneurship, we train impact entrepreneurs”. When they apply, the students of the MBA must hand in a business idea or the concept of an existing business, which means they are already entrepreneurs.
The job of E4Impact, our job, is to provide the right tools to help them to take their businesses to the next level. This was my task, to assist the entrepreneurs in moving from the theory learnt in class to the reality of their companies, using the Business Model Canvas as a base to start.
More interestingly, while I was there I was told that in 2015 Uganda was awarded the most entrepreneurial country in the world. On the other hand, it was rated also the country with the highest number of start-up failures after one year from the launch. I believe the E4Impact MBA to be extremely important to cover this gap and support the thousands of great ideas that otherwisewouldn’t have a solid ground to grow.
During my internship, I have never wanted the students to see me as a teacher or a coach; I am sure I don’t have the competencies and the skills to be so. I have always preferred to say I was there to give a new perspective and see things from a different point of view, asking questions the entrepreneurs may had never asked to themselves before and help them to give concrete answers.
I have returned to Milan with the desire to travel back to Kampala in one year, when the students I met in the Initial Boot Camp will be writing and preparing their final business plan, while those ones attending now the 1st Edition will be graduated and hopefully will be running thriving businesses. I would like to see how far they have gone, what they will have achieved and which challenges they will have faced and overcome.
Thank you Uganda,
Thank you Kampala,
Thank you E4Impact.