On 4th March 2015, Strathmore Business School held a forum on partnerships, the first of its kind. The event brought together major players in the business world to discuss the possibility and benefits of creating partnerships between their companies and Strathmore University. Darshan Chandaria, Group CEO of Chandaria Industries, and Dr George Njenga, Dean of SBS, were the keynote speakers.
Speaking to representatives of Chandaria Industries, National Oil, Britam, Cube Movers, Udali Group, Sensei Group and Centurion Systems, among other companies, Dr Njenga said the purpose of the forum was to link industries with the university, to ensure that skills developed by the university are relevant to the needs of industries, and that industries are involved in the design of programs and funding of needy students at the university.
He mentioned that ‘community’s aversion to higher education’ had taken it in the wrong direction, and that this can be remedied by strengthening the participation of the business world in education to tailor learning so as to produce skills relevant to specific industries. This, he mentioned, is already being done at the Eastlands College of Technology (ECT), another initiative of Strathmore Educational Trust.
Stating that less than 0.04% of Kenyan students can afford education at Strathmore University, and that 10% of the university’s students were on scholarships, he underscored the need for companies to sponsor even more students, concluding that companies should ‘take the risk of investing in the university. It is well worth it. It makes sense to do this.’
“It is always a pleasure to speak at Strathmore,” said Darshan Chandaria when he took to the podium. Illustrating the ‘strong meaning’ partnerships had for him and his company, he mentioned the relationship between Chandaria Industries and 20,000 young people who supply it with waste paper, which ensures they are gainfully employed, positively contributing to the country’s GDP and conserving forest reserves.
Emphasizing the crucial need for partnerships, he said that ‘it is an absolute uncertainty that an individual will know they can achieve their true worth, until it is reflected back to them by another person through a partnership.’
Education, he said, is not about the content learnt, which is ‘more or less standardised,’ but about the networks one gets into. It is through these networks that one gets to learn from others, being inspired in the process. These networks mature into stable partnerships, which are of benefit to society and the whole of humanity. “I would love to hear your views on how we can form effective partnerships with Strathmore,” he challenged the participants.
Views from the participants explored the potential contribution of Strathmore University to companies and the possible participation of businesses in the university’s development. Dr Njenga gave the parting shot, urging the participants to consider the possibility of partnering with the university, and thus participating in an extraordinary story. “We are extraordinary, not because we are special, but because we discovered that Kenyans are extraordinary,” he said.