Prof. Ongeng the Dean Faculty of Agriculture and Environment at Gulu University said that Universities can no longer work in isolation, there is a critical need to build more synergies with other players such as TVETs, and private sector so as to enhance actual contribution of Universities to community transformation.  This was part of the wider call to action during the first Agrienterprenurship symposium which took place from 25th to 26th May 2019 in Gulu, Northern Uganda.  With the theme; The Role of Higher Education and Private Sector in Enhancing Agri-entrepreneurship and Community Transformation the Symposium brought together over 70 partners and actors from academia, private sector, student, farming and refugee communities and over 600 participants who came to listen, learn and exhibit.

Gulu

Participants follow proceedings at the national Agrienterprenurship symposium

The symposium provided an opportunity for sharing of ideas, experiences, success and expectations in relation to promoting youth Agrienterprenurship. Over 30 groups of students drawn from Gulu University, Busitema University, African rural University and Uganda Christian University, TVETs, farmer groups, private sector and international partners exhibited their various Agribusiness ideas, and innovative solutions in the agricultural sector.  In partnership with RUFORUM and with support from the Mastercard Foundation under the project “Transforming African Agricultural Universities to meaningfully contribute to Africa’s Growth and Development (TAGDev)”, platforms such as the community action research programs (CARP+s) and the business incubation platforms at Universities’ were lauded as key to development of capacities as well as good initatives to train a new breed of scientists in Africa, with the right mindsets that combines entrepreneurial orientation, with experiential learning and community engagement.

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Some of the Mastercard foundation supported Students at Gulu University exhibit products of their enterprises

Learning from the experiences of student business incubatees, refugee micro-enterprise trainees, TVETs and private sector youth entrepreneurship initiatives, there was a general call for establishing mechanisms that enhance entrepreneurial component in University outreach programs.

 Universities and TVETs have been challenged to harness private sector engagement opportunities to participatorily address curricular gaps, (initiating curricular development from the labor/demand side). It is hoped that the experiences shared will help universities, TVETs and private sector players to embrace better collaboration, to harness the unique capacities of each group to promote youth agri-entrepreneurship.

We should now look forward to a regional convening to develop a complete ecosystem of practice in the entire education value chain.” Prof. Zeelen UNESCO.

While closing the symposium, Prof. Openjuru, the Vice chancellor, appreciated RUFORUM and the Mastercard Foundation Partnership for promoting innovative and entrepreneurial training orientation, and he emphasized that

With such partnerships, Gulu University is committed not only to its mission towards community transformation but also looking forward to collaborate more with other institutions, TVETs and private sector to promote best practices in community engagement and entrepreneurial training. 

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