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Okanagan College Professor Starts Social Venture in Uganda

Okanagan Business Professor David Northcott in Africa with Canadian Humanitarian.
Image Credit: Contributed
October 30, 2013 - 8:29 AM

It was a heart attack that made Okanagan College School of Business professor David Northcott really take stock of his life. “Having open heart surgery 18 months ago has really motivated me to think about where to focus my time and energy,” says the Penticton-based business professor.

Northcott took inspiration from the Entrepreneurship and Development in Emerging Nations course he created in 2008, which teaches students how business solutions can fight extreme poverty in the developing world. In addition to doing class assignments, students also take part in a two-week immersive field trip to Ethiopia. Partnering with Canadian Humanitarian (CH), an NGO based in Medicine Hat, Alta., the students help deliver the not-for-profit’s medical services and education programs, and complete work on their own projects.

As a result of this firsthand exposure to East African poverty, Northcott has been assisting Hope for Orphans and Widows Community Association (HOWCA), CH's NGO partner in Lira, Uganda, with the financial analysis for several social businesses. The initial plan is to establish a piggery and butcher shop. Beginning with 10 sows, the piggery is projected to grow to 100 sows producing 1,000 piglets per year. The mature pigs will supply the needs of the butcher shop. The long-term plan includes establishing a restaurant. “Pork is the meat of choice in Uganda,” says Northcott. “The demand is very high.”

“The current financial analysis suggests we can turn a $10,000 investment into a very profitable business in four years. These profits will fund the programs in Lira, helping 150 children initially and then increasing to 300,” says Northcott.

The money will specifically be used to pay for school fees and supplies, provide clothing and shoes, provide an after-school program that focuses on tutoring, social clubs, and hygiene needs for children living in abject poverty. After graduating from high school, students may enter a scholarship program for college and university so they get training for a professional career.

“The people of Eastern Africa aren’t lazy and they aren’t stupid,” says Northcott. “They just lack capital. I am hoping to provide a solution to that problem.”

Northcott is currently in Ethiopia working on social business projects there, and travels to Uganda Nov. 5. Northcott is funding part of the start-up costs by selling sponsorships to cover the cost of the sows at $160 per pig. The rest of the start-up investment will come from private investors. If you are in interested in sponsoring a pig, contact Professor David Northcott at dnorthcott@okanagan.bc.ca.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013
InfoTel News Ltd

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