The Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), a semi-autonomous government agency operating in partnership with the private sector and the Government, supports Small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) for national economic growth and development.
SME division, one of UIA's, projects aims to promote, attract and facilitate value adding investments and to improve incomes of SMEs. UIA thus promotes and facilitates SMEs investments in the national priority sectors. It also provides them with business related information, nurtures and enhances their growth and competitiveness. UIA provides publicity and advocates for and on behalf of SMEs creates sustainable partnerships with promoters of SMEs.
It works through a network of SME member associations for example Uganda Small Scale Associations and Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL).
The SME Division conducts entrepreneurship training for SMEs. The immediate objective of the training is to enable entrepreneurs access and utilise appropriate business skills, information and other entrepreneurship to efficiently run their businesses, hence making the enterprises more competitive.
UIA embarked on the Business to Business (B2B) linkages programme in partnership with the private sector actors and the diplomatic missions in Uganda. The approach seeks for business opportunities between SMEs and the transnational or large domestic companies, or even at times between the SMEs.
UIA seeks to maximise the growth potential, prosperity and sustainability of small businesses through enhanced access to information and business advisory. In line with this, SME division provides first-hand business information on investment opportunities in Uganda to walk-in SMEs. SMEs usually need business- related information on markets, prices, taxes, business management, financial management, business planning and general business advice.
UIA continues to engage with key stakeholders to improve the investment climate for SMEs. This is done through research and publication and active participation in the Presidential Investors Round Table. A number of research findings and policy recommendations have been made. These are uploaded on the UIA website for reference.
Association promotes SMEs
By Vision Reporter
Majority of Ugandans are employed thanks to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs in Uganda employ more than 2.5 million people, constitute up to 90% of the private sector and contribute over 70% to total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Uganda. In simple terms, Uganda cannot do without SMEs. In that esteem, Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA) came into operation.
USSIA offers training to metal fabricators
Formed in 1974, its goal is to promote growth and competitiveness of SMEs, with particular focus on those that add value to their products for example textiles, agro-processing, metal fabrication, carpentry and woodwork, chemicals, among others.
John Walugembe, the executive director says, USSIA represents the SME sector by way of policy advocacy.
"We spearhead advocacy for improving policy environment. We first study the business environment and then come up with proper positions to advocate," he explains.
USSIA also runs the Enterprise-Based Skills Development programme, which provides skills to upgrade the skills of existing entrepreneurs.
Similarly, Workers Pass is offered in conjunction with the Directorate of Industrial Training, Swiss Contact and UGAPRIVI. "Here we validate informally acquired skills, which can help one get work in other countries,' Walugembe says.
Training is offered to women and youth in a programme called Business Cottage Training. This year, they got backing from Kenya commercial Bank (KCB) Foundation to train over 264 women and youth in starting and running SMEs with practical skills.
Under Management Development Person, business management skills are offered to enterprises. "We have a partnership with HWK (in Germany) and under this collaboration, we organise study visits by SMEs to Germany," he says. He adds that this year, they are taking over 10 members to Germany where they will be taught new practical skills for two weeks.
Over the years, thanks to USSIA's efforts, more sustainable enterprises have been set up and numerous businesses have grown. "We encourage the use of national resources, improving technology to get better quality products," he says.