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Original Research

Research support services to small and medium enterprises by university libraries in Uganda: An entrepreneurial and innovation strategy

Robert S. Buwule, Stephen M. Mutula

SA Journal of Information Management; Vol 19, No 1 (2017), 8 pages. doi: 10.4102/sajim.v19i1.780

Submitted: 05 August 2016
Published:  31 October 2017

Abstract

Background: Sub-Saharan Africa tops the list of poorest regions in the world. The region is characterised by poverty, high unemployment rates, hunger and disease. Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) the world over contribute significantly towards social economic growth and have the potential if well harnessed to contribute towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and also reverse the cycle of poverty on the African continent. Most university libraries in the developed world have put in place strategies to re-engineer information on research and innovation (R&I) for SMEs to support entrepreneurship and innovation programmes. However, university libraries in Africa are still lagging behind in this regard despite the fact that the region has the highest number of SMEs.

Objectives: The objectives of this study were to: investigate how university libraries in Uganda are managing the universities’ research output; find out how the research output is disseminated to SMEs for their entrepreneurial activities, to understand how SMEs access and use R&I information for their entrepreneurial programmes; and propose feasible strategies of how best university libraries can re-engineer the dissemination of the research output for use by SMEs in their entrepreneurial endeavours.

Method: The study used document analysis which is a qualitative data collection method. Empirical literature related to the research variables of the study was reviewed through systematic searching of manual and electronic documents on how university libraries treat their R&I information in relation to entrepreneurship.

Results: The findings demonstrate that university libraries can re-engineer their R&I information services for SMEs through: repackaging R&I information in formats and languages easily accessible by SMEs; creating informal social networks for information sharing among SMEs; creation of R&I information library corners; University Library Consortia advocating for this concept; periodical announcements of new R&I information in the library through emails to SMEs; organising SME days in the library; creation of SME pages on the library website; conducting information literacy training sessions for SME entrepreneurs; and adding this concept in the library and information science curricular.

Conclusion: This article discusses how university libraries, from a developing country context such as Uganda, can re-engineer research output for SMEs and use it to develop innovative solutions that can contribute positively towards SDGs and the social economic transformation of Africa at large.


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Author affiliations

Robert S. Buwule, Faculty of Special Needs and Rehabilitation, Kyambogo University Library, Uganda; School of Social Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Stephen M. Mutula, College of Humanities, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Keywords

academic libraries; SMEs; research support; innovation; entrepreneurship; Uganda; economic development; SDGs

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ISSN: 2078-1865 (print) | ISSN: 1560-683X (online)


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