Educate! teaches a two year leadership curriculum where high school students (Educate! Scholars) learn how to solve the challenges their communities face. Our first class of Scholars has worked with Educate! for over a year now. During the December holiday, Educate! challenged its Scholars to write personal business plans. Below, read about the Grand Prize Winner Paul Mugambwa, and learn how our Scholars are applying their skills to their personal lives.
This year Educate! ran a Business Plan Competition, asking its first class of 400 Scholars to submit personal business plans. The competition pushed our Educate! Scholars to think through the details of a business on their own. It was an exercise of independence, meant to prepare them for what awaits as they finish high school. The results impressed everyone. As I read through all the business plans submitted to the competition, I saw a transition taking place among our Scholars. After a year of the Educate! program, our first class of Educate! Scholars are beginning to incorporate the experience they have gained through Educate! into their personal lives. The grand prize went to Paul Mugambwa, an Educate! Scholar at Green Hill Academy. Like many of his peers, Paul demonstrated his ability to apply Educate! concepts on his own. This skill is vital. Our goal is for our Scholars not just to excel within the program, but to apply what they have learned to the world outside of Educate!. The results from the business plan competition reveal to us that our Scholars are on the right track.
Paul’s business plan proposes a grass cutting and gardening service: Motion Gardeners. He writes for a strategy that will set Motion Gardeners apart. In line with Educate!’s vision of social entrepreneurship, Paul includes a section on social responsibility. He submits that part of his profits will go towards providing other youth with soft loans, allowing them to start their own businesses (exponential empowerment). In addition, he commits to teaching his peers the entrepreneurial skills he has acquired through Educate!. Paul has an idea of not only providing jobs for those who work for Motion Gardeners, but passing on his skills and profits to ensure that others can create similar opportunities too.
He identifies a ready market among the universities, hospitals, schools, and residential areas in Kampala. He estimates start up costs at 3,000,000 Ugandan Shillings ($1,500), which he will acquire through a soft loan.
He includes operational strategies, as well. Paul proposes that he will make timeliness his number one priority. As an American who has lived in Kampala for seven months, I can vouch that this quality will give his business the professional edge many service-based industries here lack. He describes his standards of service as including customized lawn care plans based on the individual needs of his clients and a guarantee that all trimmings will be cleaned from the premises. In addition, he has personal contacts at the institutions he is looking to partner with, giving him a leg up when accessing the market. Finally, he proposes long term sign up benefits such as offering a 30% discount for newly formed partnership and offering free services for one month when a client signs a six month contract.
It is clear from his business plan that Paul has a strong sense for business. But what really sets Paul apart is that he has not yet finished high school and has independently drafted a comprehensive business plan, complete with market analysis, social responsibility, and operations.
The ability for our Scholars to apply the Educate! Experience to a personal venture is what will make Educate! successful in the long term. Just as Paul created his business plan independently over the Christmas holiday, many of our Scholars went home for Christmas and launched independent projects. We are already seeing them transfer their skills into the real world, making us more and more excited to watch our Scholars graduate and become the change they wish to see.
-Maggie Sheahan, Educate! Program Coordinator