Uganda Come to Africa!
Team Makerere is comprised of five Masters in Business Administration (MBA) students from the University of California, Berkeley, USA: April Zhu, Samuel O’Reilly, Juliana Pugliese, Pat Hyde and Nina Ho (who served as the Team Lead).
From the moment the team was formed, plans had already begun to make the most of our long flight over to Africa by traveling together. After much deliberation, the team decided that Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and the Chobe National Park in Botswana would be our destination. And as a lovely surprise, Partners would be joining the team as well.
The Team then flew together to Johannesburg, South Africa where they officially kicked off their in-country experience with the first official Team Meeting in Africa. Team Lead Nina Ho led the first official meeting by discussing our first day’s schedule and team norms. The team expressed joy and excitement as the moment they had been working on for the past 4 months had finally arrived. The next morning, the team boarded flights headed for Uganda!
How might we equip Makerere with the right people, process, and technology to enable them to develop and iterate their own solution that addresses students’ needs?
Makerere University Private Sector Forum approached us to develop a non-conventional approach to internships that improves the quality of Makerere University graduates through enhanced hands-on experience with professional practice.
Makerere University students face significant challenges in securing internship positions, as well as participating in meaningful professional development during their attachments. Students are rarely given consequential work, and subsequently meaningful feedback, because they often enter their internships lacking essential workplace skills around communication, professionalism, and teamwork.
Therefore, our time in Uganda was spent by meeting with each primary stakeholder: the students, faculty and employer partners. These meetings allowed us to validate our prior research, learn the ground truth and use the information we gathered to help us adapt our vision for a non conventional approach to internships.
Anyone who has lived in Kampala will tell you how frustrating traffic can be. To only go 2 miles can take up to 1 hour, but the blistering heat and humidity will make you think twice before walking. On our second day in Kampala, we had meetings arranged with Umeme Power and the Bank of Uganda. The map said that it was only 7 minutes away by car, but we knew that could mean anything. We woke up much earlier than usual and planned to go to a coffee shop down the street so that if it did in fact take only 7 minutes, we would have somewhere to wait. The drive did indeed take 10 minutes and we were able to enjoy a nice cup of Ugandan coffee while we waited for the meeting to start. Our day was looking up. When we finished our last meeting at about 1pm, our blind optimism from that morning led us to say, why not, let’s take an uber back to the hotel. As the wait for the uber ticked past 30 minutes and the blistering heat was starting to take its toll, our uber pulled up. The Toyota Wish had seen better days, but we were optimistic that it would get us there in record time. As sweat was dripping down my face, and countless boda boda’s (motorbikes) passed us in traffic, I regretted our decision not to walk the 2 miles. I looked down at my watch and yes, it took us 75 minutes to go 2 miles.
The Haas Global Alumni Network is Strong
One of the reasons many of us chose to attend Haas was that we wanted to join a community that doesn’t end with graduating business school. Early on in the project we were researching Uganda’s economy and realized that Makerere University Private Sector Forum had established partnerships with many traditional employer partners such as banks, but none with fast growing sectors in the country. During our research, we came across Fenix International, a solar energy company based in Kampala. The CTO happened to be a Haas 2008 Alum and he immediately responded to our cold linkedin message while he was on vacation offering to meet us in San Francisco and link us up with Fenix’s human resources team in Kampala to help us gain feedback on our project and learn more about what students need to be successful in the fast growing Uganda economy.
The Development Fellowship Scheme (DFS) is a solution-based career preparation fellowship that includes a dynamic two-part training program for Makerere University’s third-year students. The DFS is structured into a nine workshop Development Fellowship Scheme Skills Course and the 10-12 weeks Development Fellowship Graduate Training Program. The goal of the DFS is to provide Makerere University students with the opportunity to work in teams on real life business problems, while simultaneously developing the analytical, interpersonal, and practical workplace skills necessary to thrive in the formal sector. The Team presented the DFS to the Executive Director of the Makerere University Private Sector Forum and received positive feedback for the program with hopes of it’s implementation this fall for the 2019-2020 academic year.