By Ambrose Gahene
Entrepreneurs have asked the government to meet them halfway as they build Uganda into a top investment destination. These private sector players say the policy environment must be made conducive enough and investable for them to thrive.
They made the remarks on Wednesday in Kampala, at the Bounce Back event held in partnership with MoTIV and The Innovation Village, Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) at MoTIV premises under the theme “Investing in the face of Adversity.” The aim of the event was to promote Uganda’s cutting-edge companies in relation to business agility, innovation and long-term sustainability.
The Covid-19 pandemic caused a lot of distress to businesses and economies countrywide. This forced many enterprises to reinvent their business models, acquire new talent and integrate digital technologies.
Today, innovation has become part of the economy, providing entrepreneurs with limitless opportunities to revamp their businesses and bounce back from the impact caused by the pandemic.
Speaking during the event, Joseph Kiggundu, Director – One Stop Centre for Investment at UIA said: “Initiatives such as the Bounce Back event are intended to showcase the different investment opportunities that exist in the country and ensure entrepreneurs tap into them to revive their businesses. The Authority also wants to create a platform through which partnerships can be nurtured among investors.
High on the agenda is also providing assurance to both current and future investors that creating a positive investment environment in Uganda is the government’s top priority.”
Japheth Kawanguzi, the Team Lead at MoTIV and The Innovation Village said whereas the private sector in Uganda directly contributes to the country’s accelerated economic growth, job creation, export earnings, and social inclusion; businesses continue to operate in a difficult entrepreneurial environment.
These range from lack of infrastructural support both financially and regulatory, inadequate policies, and professional capacity to produce quality products and services which has affected the ecosystem.
Kawanguzi noted: “For us to attain economic recovery, we need to create an enabling environment that makes entrepreneurship in Uganda a very attractive sector to join. Creative thinking, innovation and investment opportunities can also aid business recovery.
As builders of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, we have started discussions to facilitate the provision of a start-up Act and continue to support businesses to recovery through offering business development training, marketplace and investment opportunities to help rebuild businesses and transform the sector’s socio-economic trajectory upwards.”
One of the businesses that remained resilient during the peak of COVID-19 is “Charge Ko”, a start-up providing solutions that solve the mobile energy challenge by embedding chargers in everyday use items like car seat organizers, backpacks and more.
Geofrey Mutabazi, the Founder of Charge Ko said: “The pandemic came at a time when we wanted to scale our business. However, the lockdown forced us to shut down our operations and rethink our product offering.
Now, our new line of Charge Ko products – a power bank charger for phones, laptops and other electronics, has been adopted by the public in rural areas and businessmen who transact and do businesses online 24-hours a day. So, despite the challenges caused by the pandemic, it gave us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves to suit the needs of our customers.”
With the economy fully opened, the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 is expected to reduce, now that many entrepreneurs are adopting new recovery plans to build resilient and sustainable businesses.
Players, both in the private and government sector, have joined efforts to support businesses to receive skills, access to markets and financing to increase the number of jobs available to the youth, improve import substitution and improve the quality of the goods produced for both domestic and international markets.