Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) has in partnership with Mastercard Foundation and The Innovation Village, asked the government to expedite the formulation and implementation of a National Start-up Policy in order to address major impediments to the growth of entrepreneurship and innovation in the country. The dialogue was held at Kampala Sheraton Hotel, where it emerged that start-ups are collapsing because of market gaps, stiff competition, failure to raise capital, and the absence of incentives such as tax breaks that would otherwise support startup growth.
“We need a policy that we can use as a weapon to enable startups to walk the business journey. There are seven types of capital that can support startups including intellectual, human talent, networks to market, finance, and institutional capital. We can use a national policy to speak to these types of capital. We can put in place policies to incentivise investment in startups,” The Innovation Village Team Lead Japheth Kawanguzi said.
According to PSFU Chairman, Hon. Elly Karuhanga, the first policy the Government must put in place is stability. If the Country is stable with a good curriculum and skills then it will help our young people become great entrepreneurs.
“If young people take advantage of the opportunities available, they will manage to have sustainable businesses. The work we are doing with Mastercard Foundation is aimed at supporting young people to have dignified work opportunities,” Hon. Karuhanga said.
Uganda is ranked one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor. Statistics show 30 percent of Ugandans have started businesses. In the United States of America and Japan, that figure stands at 7 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. However, Uganda remains one of the poorest countries in the world.
“We are the most entrepreneurial country but businesses are collapsing. The time is ripe to address these issues so we can harness the potential of young people. New jobs, self-employment, and family businesses can help absorb people into the private sector,” said PSFU Chairman Elly Karuhanga.
Speaking about the policy, Makerere University Business School Principal, Waiswa Balunywa, said current policies are ideal but some fall short on supporting the emergence of Ugandan businesses.
“Government must play an active role and ring-fence sectors for Ugandans because if not, ordinary Ugandans will never venture into them but foreigners will. The international trade liberalisation policy is a hindrance to the growth of local and export businesses. The exchange rate management policy does not support the country’s industrialisation drive,” Balunywa says.
“The Innovation Village is Uganda’s launchpad for leading innovators and entrepreneurs. We are building an entire ecosystem of entrepreneurs and innovators in what is growing to become a business solutions provider for our biggest challenges or opportunities. From helping entrepreneurs launch and grow high-impact ventures to attracting regional and global opportunities, our ecosystem approach converges multiple partners including public, private, academia, research, and civil society as one force for good.”
He added that, “Our overall goal is to create a destination that grows companies that matter (start-ups, SMEs, and purpose-driven enterprises) centered around solving our biggest industry and community challenges. Collectively, we are a convergence of network, talent, capital, and physical assets leading Uganda and the region into the 4th industrial revolution.”
Private sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) is Uganda’s umbrella body for the private sector made up of 240 business associations, corporate bodies, and the major public sector agencies that support private sector growth.
Since its founding in 1995, PSFU has served as a focal point for private sector advocacy as well as capacity building and continues to sustain a positive dialogue with the government on behalf of the private sector. PSFU is also the government’s implementation partner for several projects and programmes aimed at strengthening the private sector as an engine of economic growth in Uganda.