Shs114 million for startup challenge

By Eronie Kamukama

Kampala. Ugandan youth have been invited to submit projects next Tuesday to create a company in any business sector following the launch of the Total Startupper of the Year challenge.
Speaking at the launch in Kampala, yesterday, Mr Pierre Jessua, the Total country chairman, said the aim of the startup competition is to turn young people’s innovations into tangible businesses.

“We need to encourage entrepreneurship initiatives that are innovative, competitive with high employment potential offering local products as a substitute for imports,” he said.
To encourage female participation in entrepreneurship, a top female entrepreneur will be specially awarded, bringing the number of startups that will get funds worth Shs114m to four.

One of the many findings made since Ugandans took up entrepreneurship is that there is a huge gap in capacity building and inability for enterprise owners to do business.
Many businesses have good ideas but do not have the connection to the right markets.
Mr Patrick Mweheire, the ambassador of the challenge and managing director Stanbic Bank said this is where such interventions come in handy.

“Opening up networks for businesses so they can sell their products is one channel. Access to resources in terms of capacity building in governance, keeping financial records and becoming a presentable business with structures that people can invest in. Another missing piece is capital but if you get the first two right, money will follow,” he said.
The first edition of the challenge in 2015 climaxed with three winners out of 190 applicants.
It took a startup competition for Samuel Malinga, the managing director Sanitation Africa to find the right team to work with after walking away with Shs65m.

How the training helps
According to Samuel Malinga, the managing director Sanitation Africa, they were trained in marketing, customer acquisition, refining products, presenting to investors and customers, team management, measuring the impact of the project, financial management and managing relationships. This, he says, helped them to expand the business to eastern Uganda, greater Masaka and Kampala.

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