The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) has partnered with Mastercard Foundation to announce a shs35 billion innovation program to support local small and growing businesses over the next five years.
In a program dubbed “NSSF Hi-Innovator”, the two entities will provide practical entrepreneurship training to more than 75000 youths to enable them to address gaps in their businesses.
Speaking about the program, NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba said they are looking at strengthening the existing entrepreneurship ecosystem.
“Interacting with young innovators, I have understood that their businesses fail to succeed not just because they lack affordable financing, but also a business development support system. We are creating this ecosystem that consists of entrepreneurs, business incubation, advisory and business development services as well as funding partners that these young innovators can benefit from,”Byarugaba said.
“There is also high attrition of SMEs due to inadequate governance practices, inadequate adoption of technology to scale, inadequate access to expertise, and inadequate access to funding. Through this program, we hope to bring discipline, structure, and jump-start funding to the entrepreneurship space of Uganda.”
The Hi-Innovator Program is co-funded by Mastercard Foundation, through its Young Africa Works initiative.
Outbox Uganda, an innovations hub is serving as the lead implementation partner.
“This partnership is part of our Young Africa Works initiative that aims at helping millions of people to find a pathway out of poverty. We have committed to enable 30 million young Africans, especially women, find employment they see as dignified and fulfilling by 2030. The Hi-innovator Program gives us an opportunity to further contribute to the achievement of this objective,” said Samuel Yalew Adela, the Mastercard Foundation country head.
The NSSF Hi-Innovator Program consists of 2 phases – the first being self-directed online learning via a platform providing foundational business knowledge to entrepreneurs to enable them to address gaps in their businesses.
It is open to individuals interested in starting a business or those who have a small and growing business.
The second phase is a six-month business support process where entrepreneurs will have an opportunity to receive funding, technical assistance, business development and market development support to enable them to scale their businesses.
Throughout the program, entrepreneurs will be supported by business incubation hubs across the country. These include Makerere University Innovation and Incubation Centre, MUBS Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Centre, Stanbic Business Incubator, and Shona in the Central region.
Others include Impact in the Western region, Amara Hub and Stanbic in the Northern region, Uganda Christian University in the eastern region.