11 December 2012

Uganda: SME Policy for Next Year, Says Minister

The long awaited policy to guide operations of local Small-and-Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) comes into force before the end of next year, a senior government official has revealed.

According to Finance minister Maria Kiwanuka, the policy was soon leaving cabinet debate level heading to parliament for the final approval expected before the end of next year's second quarter.

"Government attaches special importance to the SMEs, with the coming policy, we shall be able to devise more concrete means of recognising and uplifting this cardinal segment driving over 70% of our economic activities," she said in a speech read by Fred Omach, the finance state minister for general duties.

Omach was addressing over 900 businessmen as Uganda joined the other countries across the globe to celebrate the Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2012 during a series of events held last week at UMA exhibition hall Lugogo.

The draft policy was generated by the ministry of finance with technical support from Enterprise Uganda; it has been in the pipeline since 2005 despite the desperate calls by the private sector to have it enacted.

The minister said that the development oriented policy content will boost other stakeholders' efforts like the current plans by the ministry of trade to establish an SME Directorate to enhance outreach.

Charles Ocici, the executive director for Enterprise appealed to SMEs to formalise their business in order to attract assistance like funding from commercial banks and microfinance institutions.

"As we seek to grow this economy through building a strong entrepreneurial critical mass, it's important that you mind about formalising your enterprises with registration being among the first steps, for without it, you can't even be able to open a bank account," he said.

This year's events were spearheaded by Enterprise Uganda with support from Vision Group, Google, Barclays Bank, Mara Foundation, ILO, Educate Uganda, Prime Time Makerere, Junior Achievers, Fin Africa, Mountain of the Moon University, Tree Adoption Uganda, among others

The GEW was intended to inspire and involve young people to challenge their brains to find solutions to society's challenges using resources and opportunities around them.

It further encourages especially young people to have enterprising mindset which is innovative, takes risks, generates and implements new ideas and exploits their talents to provide economic and social benefits to society.

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