KAMPALA — Today, the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) and the Mastercard Foundation kicked off the second phase of their entrepreneur support programme, Hi-Innovator. The programme will see 132,000 new work opportunities for youth and women in Uganda over the next five years.
The Hi-Innovator programme is a two-phase initiative that was officially launched in May 2021. The first phase consisted of self-directed online learning via a platform providing foundational business knowledge to entrepreneurs to enable them to address gaps in their businesses.
The second phase is a six-month business support process where entrepreneurs have an opportunity to receive grant funding, technical assistance, business development and market development support to enable them to scale their businesses.
In total, 136 businesses completed the first phase and 42 were selected to pitch their business ideas to an investment committee comprised of seasoned entrepreneurs in Uganda. 28 of the businesses that pitched their ideas were selected to enter the second phase.
Each business will receive grant funding of USD $30,000 and will be supported by the project implementing partner, Outbox and other partner incubation hubs in the next six months. These include; Makerere University Innovation and Incubation Centre (MUIIC), MUBS Entrepreneurship Innovation and Incubation Centre, Stanbic Business Incubator, and Shona in the Central Region.
Other incubation hubs supporting the programme are Inpact in the Western Region, Stanbic in the Northern region, and Uganda Christian University in the Eastern Region.
NSSF Deputy Managing Director, Patrick Ayota, said that Hi-Innovator Programme, an Innovations initiative, is aimed at creating an ecosystem where the innovation of Small and Growing Businesses in Uganda can be harnessed and supported to mature into viable businesses, providing a pathway to the creation of work opportunities for women and youth in the country.
"The programme focuses on women and youth businesses specifically to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit for which young Ugandans are known. In partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, and support from other partners, we hope to bring new economic opportunities through thousands of work opportunities over the next five years," Ayota added.
Ayota explained that to qualify for grant funding, technical, and market development support, the 42 businesses selected to pitch their business ideas were evaluated using strict criteria. The businesses were evaluated by seasoned entrepreneurs in Uganda.
They assessed their ability to profitably scale if provided with the right technical and financial assistance, their potential to create work opportunities for young people, and the competency of the management teams over a sustained period of time.
"We also specifically targeted businesses in the agricultural value chain, such as agro-processing, agro-industry, and service support. We specifically chose agriculture because the sector employs about 73 percent of the population and has the potential to create significantly more work opportunities for youth and women," Ayota added.
Speaking at the same event, the Mastercard Foundation Lead for Micro, Small, and Medium- Sized Enterprises for Uganda, Arnold Byarugaba, said that the Mastercard Foundation's vision is to support highly impactful and scalable small and growing businesses to access seed capital and technical support for their businesses while creating a collaborative, sustainable, and efficient business ecosystem.
"Congratulations to the entrepreneurs who presented their projects today. We congratulate you on your progress thus far and we are humbled to be part of your journey. For those who were unsuccessful, we encourage you to persevere and to use the lessons you've learned to date to advance your business ideas," said Byarugaba.
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The National Social Security Fund Uganda is a multi-Trillion Fund mandated by Government through the NSSF Act, Cap 222 (Laws of Uganda) to provide social security services to employees in the private sector. The Fund is a secure, innovative, and dynamic social security provider that guarantees safety, security, and a competitive return on members' savings of over 2% above the 10-year inflation average. The Fund manages assets worth over UGX 15.5 Trillion invested in Fixed Income, Equities and Real Estate assets within the East Africa region. As the largest Fund in East Africa by value, we have the ambitious goal of growing our Assets Under Management to 20 Trillion by 2025. Since 2012, the Fund is regulated by the Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority while Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development is responsible for policy oversight.
About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organisation with its Board of Directors and management. For more information on the Foundation, please visit: www.mastercardfdn.org
About Young Africa Works
Young Africa Works is the Mastercard Foundation's strategy to enable 30 million young people, particularly young women, across Africa to access dignified work. Africa will be home to the world's largest workforce, with 375 million young people entering the job market by 2030. With the right skills, these young people will contribute to Africa's global competitiveness and improve their lives and those of their communities.