Mentor Senior Secondary School from Lira district emerged winners of the 5th edition of the Stanbic Bank National Schools Championship after a panel of judges selected their business plan, Edutele an education consultancy service that has been helping students attend virtual classes during the lock down.
The other finalists were Nabisunsa Girls School from Central Uganda, Kyebambe Girls from Western Uganda, Mentor Senior Secondary School from Northern Uganda and Mpumudde Seed Senior School from Eastern Uganda.
Unlike the previous National School Championships, this year brought together all students and schools that have excelled in the championship and continue to nurture the businesses that they started as a result of the championship. The three in one awards ceremony had three categories of winners involving both the students, alumni and existing schools from past years under the categories, – Startup challenge – New business ideas generated, BizGrow challenge – Existing businesses in schools from past four years and AlumGrow challenge – National Schools alumni personal businesses.
Some 600 business ideas were generated during the course of the competition compared to 400 last year. Students were also challenged to take into account the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19) and present business plans that were in conformity to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Also notable this year, was that most of the activities during the qualifying stages were carried out online due to the pandemic that forced the government to close educational institutions at the end of March. However there was no letup in the enthusiasm among the students.
Barbara Kasekende, Stanbic Bank’s Corporate Social Investments (CSI) Manager speaking during the awards ceremony at Sheraton hotel Kampala said, “I have been amazed by the kind of projects the students came up with. They managed to find gaps in their communities where they live and proposed solutions for these challenges including COVID19. Just over 60% of the business plans entailed the manufacture of hand sanitizers and/or similar sanitation products. At the semi-final stage, the Bank supported each project with UGX500,000 to get things started. The initial impact on their communities has surpassed our expectations. The students displayed an amazing ‘I Can Do it’ attitude which is part and parcel of why this CSI programme remains so popular five years after we started this initiative. We started out with 40 schools. Last year 72 schools took part, but this year we had 100.”
The Stanbic National Schools Championship is the Bank’s flagship CSI programme. Its aim is to enhance skills development through equipping students with entrepreneurship and critical thinking skills that we believe will better prepare them to be job creators in the future.
Apart from business proposals to counter the Covid-19 pandemic, students also presented proposals for reusable sanitary pads, potato processing, flavored ghee, digital services for marketing and learning.
Kasekende said, “The business plans demonstrated creativity, and targeted a local market, with plans for future expansion. This year, we added a third tier to involve the NSC alumni. These are past winners of the Championship who competed for new investment funds in an Alumni Showdown where they showcased the sustainability of their new businesses. It gave them an opportunity to show they are not only bettering their own lives, but the lives of the people in their communities. Listening to their stories, not only inspires other young people to follow suit, but also proves that given a chance these students want to realize their full potential and in turn help sustain the country’s future economic growth.”
Emma Mugisha, the Stanbic Bank Executive Director and Head of Corporate Investment Banking said, “This is in line with the Bank’s purpose of making dreams possible by nurturing this young talent. We recently unveiled our new brand promise that underpins our aspirations because we believe by supporting these young people to be courageous, innovative, authentic and bold in everything they do, we shall be able to build a better tomorrow for Uganda. ”
In 2016 and, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, the Championship was launched. Since then, several partners from both the public and private sector have come onboard. Today, the programme has over 12 partners and continues to run with the theme ‘Empowering the job creators of tomorrow’.
The focus is on entrepreneurship and life skills in order to empower young people to relate with the new modern world. Stanbic NSC together with Roofings Limited also resolved to plant fruit trees in all the 100 schools; the minimum being 10 trees up to100 trees. All these tree seedlings are being provided free of charge with a target to plant over 15,000 trees across the country to tackle both climate change and food insecurity.