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Private sector calls for National Startup Policy

THURSDAY: Discussion, with Innovation Village’s CK Japheth(middle) on way forward for Ugandan innovators

Uganda is ranked one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT |  Private sector players have asked government to expedite the formulation and implementation of a National Startup Policy in order to address major impediments to the growth of entrepreneurship and innovation in Uganda.

During the National Startup Policy Dialogue organized by The Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) in partnership with The Innovation Village and Mastercard Foundation held at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel, it emerged that startups are collapsing because of market gaps, stiff competition, failure to raise capital and absence of incentives such as tax breaks that would otherwise support startup growth.

“We need a policy that we can use as a weapon to enable startups to walk the business journey. There are seven types of capital that can support startups including intellectual, human talent, networks to market, finance and institutional capital. We can use a national policy to speak to these types of capital. We can put in place policies to incentivize investment in startups,” The Innovation Village Team Lead Japheth Kawanguzi said on Thursday.

According to PSFU Chairman, Elly Karuhanga, the first policy the Government must put in place is stability. If the Country is stable with a good curriculum and skills then it will help our young people become great entrepreneurs.

“If young people take advantage of the opportunities available, they will manage to have sustainable businesses. The work we are doing with Mastercard Foundation is aimed at supporting young people to have dignified work opportunities,” Karuhanga said.

Uganda is ranked one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world, according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.  Statistics show 30 percent of Ugandans have started businesses. In the United States of America and Japan, that figure stands at 7 per cent and 11 per cent respectively. However, Uganda remains one of the poorest countries in the world.

“We are the most entrepreneurial country but businesses are collapsing. The time is ripe to address these issues so we can harness the potential of young people. New jobs, self-employment and family businesses can help absorb people into the private sector,” said PSFU Chairman Elly Karuhanga.

Speaking about the policy, Makerere University Business School Principal, Waiswa Balunywa, said current policies are ideal but some fall short on supporting the emergence of Ugandan businesses.

“Government must play an active role and ring fence sectors for Ugandans because if not, ordinary Ugandans will never venture into them but foreigners will. The international trade liberalization policy is a hindrance to growth of local and export businesses. The exchange rate management policy does not support the country’s industrialization drive,” Balunywa says.

The Innovation Village is Uganda’s launchpad for leading Innovators and entrepreneurs while Private sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) is Uganda’s umbrella body for the private sector made up of 240 Business Associations, Corporate bodies and the major Public Sector Agencies that support private sector growth.

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