The National Social Security Fund (NSSF), in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, Monday launched a UGX 35 billion innovation programme to support local Small and Growing businesses over the next five years.
The programme, dubbed the ‘NSSF Hi-Innovator’ will also provide practical entrepreneurship training to more than 75,000 youth to enable them to address gaps in their businesses.
NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba revealed the Fund will strengthen the existing entrepreneurship ecosystem through which entrepreneurs can be harnessed and supported to build profitable, sustainable and scalable businesses, as well as engaging the young people in developing solutions that address today’s social and economic challenges.
“Interacting with young innovators, I have understood that their businesses fail to succeed not just because they lack affordable financing, but also a business development support system. We are creating this ecosystem that consist of entrepreneurs, business incubation, advisory and business development services as well as funding partners that these young innovators can benefit from,” Byarugaba said.
“There is also high attrition of SMEs due to inadequate governance practices, inadequate adoption of technology to scale, inadequate access to expertise, and inadequate access to funding. Through this programme, we hope to bring discipline, structure, and jump-start funding to the entrepreneurship space of Uganda,” he added.
The Hi-Innovator Programme is co-funded by Mastercard Foundation, through its Young Africa Works initiative. Outbox Uganda, an innovations hub is serving as the lead implementation partner.
Mastercard Foundation Country Head, Samuel Yalew Adela, applauded NSSF for starting the initiative and committed to be part of the ecosystem for the next 5 years.
“This partnership is part of our Young Africa Works initiative that aims at helping millions of people to find a pathway out of poverty. We have committed to enable 30 million young Africans, especially women, find employment they see as dignified and fulfilling by 2030. The Hi-innovator Programme gives us an opportunity to further contribute to the achievement of this objective.”
The NSSF Hi-Innovator Programme consists of two phases the first being self-directed online learning via a platform providing foundational business knowledge to entrepreneurs to enable them to address gaps in their businesses. It is open to individuals interested in starting a business or those who have a small and growing business.
The second phase is a six-month business support process where entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to receive funding, technical assistance, business development and market development support to enable them scale their businesses.
Throughout the programme, entrepreneurs will be supported by business incubation hubs across the country. These include Makerere University Innovation and Incubation Centre, MUBS Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Centre, Stanbic Business Incubator, and Shona in the Central region.
Others include Inpact in the Western region, Amara Hub and Stanbic in the Northern region, Uganda Christian University in the eastern region.
To join the programme, innovators should register via www.nssfug.org/hi-innovator or go to any of our partner hubs. – UG Weekly.