SMEs set to rebound with focus on technology, tourism

Business

The streets, once deserted and shops shuttered, are now showing signs of life as businesses strive to recover from the economic turmoil inflicted by the global health crisis.

KAMPALA | After nearly two years of grappling with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Uganda's small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are poised for a resurgence in 2024.

The streets, once deserted and shops shuttered, are now showing signs of life as businesses strive to recover from the economic turmoil inflicted by the global health crisis.

John Walugembe, the executive director of the Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises (FSMEs), believes that 2024 holds stable opportunities for SMEs, with tourism emerging as a key driver of growth, particularly in meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE).

"At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 90 percent of businesses in Uganda were forced to close their doors, grappling with unpaid rent arrears and uncertain futures," Walugembe said.

However, amidst the challenges, there is optimism brewing for the business landscape in 2024.

"While some businesses continue to struggle to recapitalize, we see a positive outlook for this year," noted Walugembe.

He emphasised that the pandemic has catalysed a shift towards technology adoption among SMEs, enabling them to adapt and thrive in the digital age.

"This year presents multiple opportunities for SMEs as they prioritize value addition to their products, leveraging technology," stated Walugembe.

However, he acknowledged that there remains a significant digital literacy gap, posing a challenge for SMEs to fully capitalize on these opportunities.

Uganda, despite its reputation as one of the most entrepreneurial countries globally, grapples with high business failure rates, with many SMEs collapsing before reaching their first anniversary.

Yet, with concerted efforts to bridge the digital divide and capitalize on the potential of tourism, 2024 holds promise for Uganda's SMEs to rebound and thrive in a post-pandemic era.

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