Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Makerere Agribusiness program brings SMEs on board

Joseph Nkandu
Executive Director at NUCAFE
9 May 2014. Official launch of the Makerere Agribusiness program. The Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD), a program initiated to boost agriculture students’ and graduates’ roles in broadening agribusiness entrepreneurship and job creation is expanding to benefit the private Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

According to Joseph Nkandu, an agribusiness social entrepreneur and the program founding director, the initiative is rich with entrepreneurial skills that ought to be acquired by the rest of non-student agribusiness young men and women especially those involved in agricultural value chain.

CURAD was instituted in 2009 at Makerere University Agricultural Research Institute Kabanyolo to reform the curricula to nurture agriculture students into a skilled workforce with more roles in the field of agribusiness entrepreneurship, a step towards enabling beneficiaries with entrepreneurial skills to start their own agribusinesses and also be more competitive in the job market.

Speaking to the media ahead of the program (CURAD) Nkandu explained that the initiative was registering significant strides in equipping students with the skills of agribusiness entrepreneurship from shifting focus from only agronomy (soil and crop science) to other more profitable nodes of the agricultural value chain and marketing finished products.

Through incubation, students acquire skills in making business plans, and CURAD supports them with working capital and some of the students are linked to investors.
“Through CURAD, we started imparting students with entrepreneurial skills. We thought it important also to work and partner with the private sector already in business but had no opportunity to be taken up at Makerere University. We also take on those that had already graduated before the program was introduced,” he said.
According to the program Investigator, Prof. Samuel Kyamanywa, program is already groundbreaking in the SME world, but plans to boost it are also finalized with CURAD partnering with Danida Fellowship Centre and NIRAS to facilitate short course in General Tools and Concepts in Agribusiness SME Development.

Fully funded by Danish Fellowship Program, the course started in November 2013 and will be an annual activity to support the entrepreneurs in improving agribusiness management, developing partnerships and exploring new markets using value chain approach.

Kyamanywa revealed that the course targets private agriculture SMEs entrepreneurs, business Associations as well as rural credit organisations with prior knowledge of the general business development tools such as feasibility studies and business plans.

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