Submitted on October 2014
This has been indeed a challenging year for the SEE project but is seen as an initiation process. Delays in disbursements, university restructuring and variation of some activity progress across the four partners placed some obstacles in the projects pathway. However these initial teething problems have not discouraged the regional team. In September, the four partners (representing Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda) met again in Kampala to discuss and analyse the project activities and evaluate their progress and challenges. This was an important event to maintain momentum in the project following a reduced activity phase over Q2 and Q3.
Later that month, the lead institution, University of Rwanda was visited by Ross VeLure Roholt from the learning partner team at the University of Minnesota, US who arrived in time to experience and be part of the 1st SEE Open Day. A large variety of business, from soap to poultry, sustainable charcoal brickets to cassava flour, the new ventures came together and displayed their innovations under the SEE and partnering collaborators, SPARK logos. The Dutch funded SPARK project had awarded seed funding for the businesses present. Now after their first year or two in operation they have survived and SEE will support them through mentoring and the upcoming trainings. The SEE model has flipped over the traditional approach to formally train graduates and community members first in theory before implementing the venture. The SEE approach aims at coming in after the entrepreneurs have taken the plunge to maintain and develop what they have started on their own.
As mentioned previously the project was frontloaded with activities, making the first year to be quite busy in getting the preliminary activities in order. Year 2 will also be busy as activities from Year one are completed and others rolled out over the year. Mostly SEE is looking forward to developing its business incubation centers into profitable self-sustaining enterprises. In doing this SEE can practice what it preaches and will keep in sight the challenges and opportunities of being a self–employed business venture.