Meet Fredrick Ndiwalana, the professional banker who trains urban refugees in Kampala on how to run a business
18 September 2017

Beneficiaries of the Carpentry and Hair Dressing skills training courses learn different aspects of financial planning (Christina Zetlmeisl, JRS Kampala)
It gave me a lot of satisfaction knowing that I could make a positive contribution by giving them a skill that can help them navigate this urban jungle

Fredrick Ndiwalana teaches business training at JRS Kampala. At the same time he is doing consultancy work to design and deliver entrepreneurial skills to urban refugees. In 2017 JRS commissioned a study which was undertaken by Fredrick focused on understanding job and livelihood opportunities available to refugees in Kampala. I met Fredrick to talk more about his background, his involvement and engagement for refugees in general and those especially in urban settings in Kampala.

C: Fredrick, what is your professional background?

F: I studied Agriculture Economics for my Bachelors degree and Development studies at Masters level.
I also hold a Diploma in Business Management and I am a Certified Professional Banker. I am a fellow of the Uganda Institute of Bankers and Financial Services and a Certified Expert in Microfinance (Frankfurt School of Management and Finance). I have been trained by the World Bank to train others to deliver Entrepreneurship skills for Women.

C: When started the collaboration between JRS and the Uganda Institute of Banking and Financial Services?

F: JRS contacted the institute in 2012 looking for specialized training for micro and small business management/entrepreneurship. I undertook the assignment in collaboration with the institute to develop a tailor made course and trained other tutors to deliver this course. Since then the course has evolved both in content, scope and delivery methodologies to meet the changing needs of the beneficiaries. I have been on the program since 2012 when it started.

C: What is your motivation doing this business training for refugees?

F: My career in banking was mainly focused on business development for Small to Medium Enterprises. Initially the institute chose me as the best fit for this program because of that experience however after my initial contact with the students in that first class everything changed. I realised that urban refugees given the high levels of unemployment in Kampala MUST run successful businesses to have a livelihood. I learnt that refugees had limited information on basics that were essential for running a small business such as where to buy stock at fair prices, and many other things that the locals knew which made it very difficult for them to compete. It gave me a lot of satisfaction knowing that I could make a positive contribution by giving them a skill that can help them navigate this urban jungle. I have since been able to hand hold many beyond the business class.

C: What opportunities do you see ahead for the entrepreneurship graduates?

F: Uganda is one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SME) play a crucial role in the economic growth of the economy contributing to 18% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) plus employment and job creation at 90%. Entrepreneurship graduates have the opportunity to participate in this largely informal economy but they should choose high market demand sectors to increase their chances of success.

C: Has the entrepreneurship training had impact on the beneficiaries?

F: A single mother of five children who attended this course last year said she could not put in monetary terms the value she got from attending the course.
Teacher, I now prepare a personal budget and I am keeping my business records. The training opened my eyes”.

The training is able to have an impact for both at personal finance management level for those who have not yet started a business as well as business planning and business management for those who are in the process of starting or already running a business.

C: Where do you see these entrepreneurship graduates in the next 5 years?

F: If you choose the right enterprise and work diligently you can grow your business by over ten fold in five years. I have seen SMEs grow from a few hundred dollars to companies valued in six digit dollar amounts in fifteen years. Uganda is a vibrant economy and in many sectors the demand for goods and services is still relatively inelastic.<

C: What have been the major challenges in providing entrepreneurship training to these target groups?

F: The Refugees have highly diverse levels of numeracy and literacy. The design of the course has to take these in account and the delivery methodologies have to be adjusted to fit a particular class. Each class is different. Business training must be practical. People learn better in an environment where they can see practical examples. Although mentoring has a positive influence, there is a need to organise such learning for those who may not have running businesses.

C: Any suggestions on what could have been done better?

F: It would have been good to create opportunities for apprenticeship for the graduates especially those that do not have a running business. That would give them a good feel of the market before they start their own businesses.

By Christina Zetlmeisl,
Programmes Officer, JRS Kampala

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