On Saturday 16 April 2016, the ECU – Entrepreneurship Club Uganda, sponsored by BOSCO Uganda held its first business plan competition at Bardege ICT Centre.
The ECU was formed on Tuesday 12 January 2016, by 44 graduates who had completed the Entrepreneurship Essentials Course. The ECU is an initiative of BOSCO Uganda and aims to bring aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners together to create a community where entrepreneurs can collaborate and share successes and challenges with each other. To participate in this competition, participants had to submit their written business plan to BOSCO Uganda.
The business plan competition was organized to improve business plan writing and presentation skills of entrepreneurs in Uganda. It was hoped that this competition would assist entrepreneurs to acquire not only improve on their business plan development skills, but also attract funding from microfinance institutions. Prize money would be given out for the best presentations. Business plans & presentations would be judged based on how well the guidelines set out by the judges were met, and also on the merits of the business idea itself. The competition was made possible with funding from BOSCO Uganda’s partners: The Accenture Foundation and The University of Notre Dame.
Anyone with an existing business plan or business idea was welcome to participate in the business plan competition. With over 1.2 million Ugandan Shillings in prize money being awarded, the business plan competition attracted the participation of more than thirty entrepreneurs.
The competition kicked off at about 10:00am. Approximately 80 in attendance, including BOSCO Uganda staff members led by the Operations Officer, Tony Okwonga. All participants were given a chance to present before a panel of three judges. All presentations lasted approximately 5 minutes.
The judges determined the winners of the competition by assigning scores based on three main areas: the strength of the business plan (considering the writing style, content and completeness of the plan), the presentation of the plan (relying mainly on the presentation quality of the presenter), and the overall impression of the business idea (creativity and potential impact).
At the end of the day, four winners were announced. Appropriate Energy Saving Enterprises, Nehemiah Enterprises, Belmoi Enterprises, and Ken Cabbages. The winners shared a cash prize of 1.2 million shillings among them.
Participants were attracted from as far as Lira and Kitgum districts which border Gulu. Members the ECU also submitted entries because they considered it an opportunity to apply the knowledge they had obtained from the EE courses as many of them felt that this gave them an edge over other entrants. In a surprising twist of events, this turned out not to be the case as none of them turned out to be winners. The ECU fraternity however took the disappointment lightly, conceding their loss with the hope of doing better in future competitions.
“I was ill prepared so I think I stood no chance” admitted Nixon Okello a club member. “The best four were outstanding, but for future competitions I hope to be better prepared,” he said.
“I must say all of you have done well” said Judge Christine in declaration of the results. She however went on to stress the criteria for the ranking as based on the most exceptional presentations. This ruled out any form of disagreement with results.
For their patron Samuel Komakech however, it was all down to one thing; the lack of practice.
“Most of the club members didn’t practice what they were taught enough which put them in a vulnerable position of losing out.” he said.
In conclusion to the event, CEO Tony Okwonga encouraged the participants to use Bardege ICT Center as a fountain of knowledge. “Come and learn from this place and get new ideas,” he said.
He further encouraged members to take their ideas further in order to successfully develop their business plans.
“On behalf of Accenture Foundation, Notre Dame University and BOSCO Uganda,” he said, “we want to encourage all participants that this is not the end to their ideas but the beginning. So explore your ideas further and develop a bigger business idea in the future” he added.
The business plan competition has enabled the Entrepreneurship Club Uganda to open a new chapter with the registration of their club as a SACCO and a legal entity in the implementation of its activities.