KAMPALA – Prof. Waswa Balunywa, the Principal of Makerere University Business School (MUBS) has asked government to make access to funding easy for young innovators if it wants to overcome the unemployment problem in Uganda.
Speaking during the launch of the 3rd edition of Kampala Innovation Week 2021 at Design Hub in Kampala on Monday, Prof Balunywa said although Uganda is one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world, a good number of Ugandans are still poor because most of the time government wants to fund huge projects which at times have other forms of access to money.
“We don’t need to finance huge car projects, we have many innovators who can create jobs for millions of Uganda but I must tell you, there are too many regulations and policies in this country, you cannot do anything in this country as a businessman. Unfortunately, there are lots of government programs to do this but to my feeling, they are not right. Government should fund these innovations at all levels,” he said.
Prof Balunywa added that although government has put funds and infrastructures for the private sector, they have put up so many restricting regulations to access such incentives.
“The government is giving with one hand while taking away with another. It’s easy to start a business but the facilitating conditions and the regulations are too many so there is a need to ease regulations for businesses to expand and take advantage of the digital era.”
At the same launch, Richard Zulu, the founding partner of Outbox Hub Kampala said many start-ups have existed for more than seven years but they are stagnant due to lack of funding.
Georgette Ochieng Ndabukiye the Co-founder of Wazi Vision also added that one of the strong factors obstructing the development of start-ups in Uganda are unbearable policies by the government.
“A few years ago without mentioning the government agency, we reached out to an agency because we were in manufacturing, we thought this is a perfect agency to support us but they did not give us any way forward, fortunately, we got funding from UKAID which believed in our ideas.Our own did not,”she said.
Ms. Ndabukiye also noted that funding is a great vessel if Uganda is to embrace digital transformation.
“We need access to funding from our government and they must believe in us, for example, governments that have believed in us are from Europe, although we are trying to do something good for our country, it’s becoming so difficult to get funding from it. There are people who have amazing ideas but don’t have access to funding. Funds might be there but accessing it is hard because we are nobody but imagine how many millions of nobodies.”
However, Richard Mubiru, the Manager, Enterprise Growth Development, Private Sector Development unit at the Ministry of Finance, stated that the funds are available but at times some Start-ups don’t have the required qualities.
“We appreciate the fact that access to finance is a challenge however there are mechanisms that government has put up to support start-ups such as innovations funds in the Central Bank. Very soon the SMD recovery funds will be rolled out and UDC is already moving on looking for projects to support, therefore we are working towards the lasting solution.”
Bart Cornille, the Digital for Development Expert from Enabel also noted that for innovations to thrive in the country, funding must be accessible to upcoming businesses.
“Indeed it’s very shocking to see that Uganda in 2015 was the number one most entrepreneurial country in the world and it’s still not moving forward. I think funding is one of the problems, plus tough policies yet these are the two most important aspects that determine the growth of innovation in any country. The government needs to create favourable ways to facilitate accessibility to funds by start-ups.”
Meanwhile, this year’s edition of Kampala Innovations Week is hosted under the theme of “Harnessing the power of innovation and entrepreneurship for Uganda’s digital transformation, job creation and economic sustainability”
The five-day event is running from November 22 to 26.