The Quest for Financial Sustainability in Public Universities

Prof. Ngumi deliberates with her Embu University counterpart, Prof. Mugendi during a courtesy call to her office.

In the wake of reduced financial capitation to public universities and other constraints occasioned in part by the Covid-19 pandemic, the need to diversify funding sources cannot be overemphasized. It is now incumbent upon institutions of higher learning to innovate and complement government funding to ensure financial sustainability.

These sentiments took centre stage during a meeting between Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Vice Chancellor Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi and her Embu University counterpart, Prof. Daniel Mugendi Njiru, who led a delegation of his institution’s Management on a benchmarking mission at JKUAT, Thursday, March 4, 2021.

In her welcoming remarks to the visiting team, Prof. Ngumi emphasized the importance of close institutional collaboration and partnership, with a unified mission of advancing higher education in the country.

“We are honored by your visit to JKUAT and we take this as an opportunity to learn from each other, have a discourse on best practices and forge a cohesive path towards self-reliance in the higher education sector,” Prof. Ngumi asserted.

Expounding on the purpose of their visit, Prof. Mugendi sought to find out about the establishment and operation of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology Enterprises (JKUATES), and some of the key insights gathered over the years it has been in existence.

“I first interacted with JKUATES some years back when I came to purchase some tissue culture banana seedlings, and I have since developed an interest in the organization. As a University, we’re looking into starting a similar venture, and there’s no better University to point us in the right direction and walk with us in this journey,” said, Prof. Mugendi.

From Left; Prof. Mugendi, Prof. Ngumi,  & Dr. Karugu listen to submissions  at the meeting.

JKUAT Enterprises Ltd (JKUATES) is a State Corporation operating as a limited company, and is fully owned by Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. The company works towards enhancing entrepreneurial activity through the latest innovations in technological research.

Its other objectives include; providing practical solutions for business problems, marketing the University’s innovations, consultancy, and linking the University with industry, government, the public and other stakeholders towards sustainable development.

In her remarks, JKUATES Managing Director, Dr. Winfred Karugu urged the visitors not to tire when the journey gets tough, adding, the path of entrepreneurship requires resilience and persistence.

“The company was registered around the year 2001, but it was until 2005 that we became fully operational. We have encountered obstacles and false starts, but through them we learn and get better every day,” she added.

In her concluding remarks, Prof. Ngumi observed that in the long run, pursuit for entrepreneurship and alternative income generating activities is rewarding, challenges notwithstanding.

From left; Mrs. Otolo, Ms. Ndegwa, Prof. Kenya, Prof. Kotut, Prof. Mugendi, Prof. Ngumi, Dr. Karugu, Dr. Ndegwa, Mr. Kamonjo, and Ms. Chege.

“The JKUAT Enterprises has managed to put up two buildings for the University so far, and a third one is underway. Our five-storey college block for the College of Human Resource Development (COHRED) is courtesy of JKUATES,” she added.

The team from Embu University then proceeded on a guided tour of the University, with a specific focus on the JKUAT Enterprises facilities and projects.

Accompanying the Embu University Vice Chancellor was his Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC), Academics, Research and Extension, Prof. Kiplagat Kotut, DVC Planning, Administration and Finance, Prof. Eucharia Kenya, Head of Finance, Mr. Lawrence Kamonjo, Head of Procurement, Ms. Purity Chege, Registrar, VC’s office, Mrs. Margaret Otolo, and the Legal Officer, Ms. Anne Ndegwa. The meeting was also attended by the JKUAT Registrar (Administration), Dr. Rose Ndegwa.

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