The Observer (Kampala)

18 December 2012

Uganda: Fund Gives Hope to Young Entrepreneurs

Yusuf Ogola, a professional photographer, joined a friend to open up a photo studio, Ayo photopix, in the city centre.

The business, however, endured a slow start, which nearly forced it to close. And then they heard of a workshop for attitudinal change by Enterprise Uganda.

"When I heard of this workshop, I saw a perfect opportunity for me to acquire more knowledge on how to run a successful business," says Ogola, who eventually paid the entry fee of Shs 50,000.

For five days, Ogola underwent thorough business training, which, he says, transformed his outlook. Ogola says that he has learnt that irrespective of how much money one has, they can succeed in their business as long as they have financial discipline.

"I have been spending on things that I can go without. This workshop has taught me how every penny counts in business and what impact it can make," says Ogola.

He now wants to utilize this knowledge to accelerate his business to become one of the best service providers in the city. Ogola was one the 500 youths that recently attended the training, sponsored by the Warid Entrepreneurship Fund.

While closing the workshop, the state minister for Microfinance, Aston Kajara, commended Enterprise Uganda for championing youth empowerment programmes and applauded Warid telecom for leading by example.

"Other telecom companies, banks, cement companies and all private companies should emulate the example of Warid and involve the youth by teaching them how to become job creators," Kajara said.

Charles Ocici, the Executive Director of Enterprise Uganda, said Ugandans should not think that education is a one way ticket to nirvana.

"I wonder why someone should first study up to PhD level in order to land their first job. That is waste of valuable time and that is why we emphasize attitudinal change programs," he said. "The situation is very worrying when you meet graduates in villages resorting to sports betting and gambling. They just need someone to spark their minds," he said.

In their Entrepreneurship fund, Warid wants to train 2,000 Ugandan youths every year.

"At the beginning of next year, we are starting in Soroti where about 750 youth will be trained," said Kevin Nakachwa, Warid brand development manager.

Warid CEO Sriram Yarlagadda sees this program as a perfect opportunity for young entrepreneurs in Uganda to come forward and exhibit their potentials. For this, Ogola stands a chance of obtaining funds from Warid, since they intend to provide capital and mentorship to some winning enterprising projects developed by the youth.

Just like Warid, MTN also recently concluded their one year professional training of SMEs. In this training, MTN Uganda in partnership with KPMG, trained 100 business owners on topics like creating and preserving wealth, book keeping and personnel management through business planning and strategy development.

MTN CEO Mazen Mroue explained that such trainings are strategically aimed at building new human resources capacity and support the overall economic growth.

Ocici says that lack of adequate finances isn't the only barrier to economic development. "The lack of adequate and professional training for individuals is mainly affecting our business-minded and oriented citizens," he says.

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