THE JA ACHIEVERS RACE

18th-19th September 2014 Junior Achievers Race.

And the winner is…

If it were to be poetry, then this statement would pass for a rhetoric question. But now that this was the Achievers Race, I lived to witness the winner that Friday evening of 19th September 2014. This was the climax of the inaugural Achievers Race organized by the Junior Achievement (JA) Uganda in partnership with Barclays Bank, Uganda.

The event began way back in June through social media mainly Facebook and Twitter, (at least for me) when I saw a link inviting anyone interested to participate in something that sounded cool, who wants to miss on JA events any way. We all applied and were supposed to prepare our groups to come up for the tasks uphill. The Achievers Race was tailored for university students who are in business and those interested in beginning their own businesses. The Junior Achievement Program came up with this strategy as a means of having university students turn their focus from future employment but rather self employment to cub the rate of unemployment in the country especially among university graduates.

It was a phone call from a one Jonathan who confirmed that I had been enlisted to attend, by the way I never found out who this man is in person. That is what happens when one is so excited. Any way on the very day, I prepared myself for the race. I did not know what to expect.

On arrival at the Lugoogo UMA Show Grounds, I was directed to the hall whose door had been broken by the over-a-thousand-applicants-vying-for-two-slots in the Census program the previous day. I was convinced I was going to the venue where people were showcasing what they have done not the contrary. To my dismay, it was the same venue. Much as it was approaching the intended 9 o’clock, the hall was far from being organized for the same.

A handful of participants made it on time and the rest snaked in one by one later on. A one Moses kept buying time with the microphone till two hours later when the dummy copies of company registration booklets were distributed to the participants and the each group was due to face off with the judges. Susan Rukundo of Barclays along with Peter Paul Basazemajja, a medical practitioner, sat in the white booth at the extreme right hand side of the spacious hall grilling and drilling facts from contestants about their knowledge on company registration, company account registration and employee recruitment. As one of their colleagues, William Kizito of Barclays also confessed in his ending remarks, “The only reason I was harsh with you was to shake the coldness from you.”

Before long, day one was done and Rachael Mwagale, the Program Coordinator at JA did not tire reminding the concerned to turn up the following day to claim their award.
“As JA, we fly with eagles. We don’t do business on a blackboard, we bring you to the real world of business, ” were the take home words from the CEO of Junior Achievement, Josephine Kaleebi to the branded white T-shirt donned audience before welcoming the Head of Corporate Affairs, Barclays Bank, Micheal Kaddu. He cautioned the participants from seeking permission to achieve greatness. He reminded them that good things come to those who wait but better things go to those who go out to get them. He closed with a plea to the Racers to move from book knowledge to applying what they had learned.

The new MD of Barclays Bank, Rackesh Jah, emphasized the strategies of Barclays; honesty, respect and stewardship. “You don’t need to have huge amount of capital to participate, all you need is determination to stand out,” he concluded.

These were said at the climax of the event where SWORD Application walked away with UG Shillings 400,000 emerging the second runners up following Philomera Forum from Mpigi who won UG Shillings 600,000 as the first runners up.

Victoria Mbabazi of Kahwa 2go, a mobile coffee outlet and a fourth year student of software engineering at Makerere University, was the winner of the day with a golden cheque of UG Shillings 1,000,000.
The colorful event ended in energy as every participant walked away with a 2GB flash disk from Barclays Bank and a certificate of participation. Participants came mainly from Makerere, MUBS and Kyambogo Universities.

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