NSSF, Mastercard program could create 132k new jobs by 2025Blessed Bee of Life was one of the 28 winners
Uganda’s provident fund manager NSSF and partner Mastercard, are projecting 132,000 new jobs from their entrepreneurship support programme Hi-innovator, over the next four years as the first batch of grant winners get down to business. This follows a final pitching event in Kampala, on October 27 during which 28 finalists were selected.
Twenty-eight winners from a group of 48, progressed to the second phase of the programme that seeks to help youth founded enterprises grow into mature businesss. Each successful pitch will receive up to USD 30,000 in financial support. This followed the staging of a final pitching event in Kampala on October 27, during which the 28 finalists were selected from a group of 42 that had topped the first phase.
In addition to the funding, the winners will also be mentored by implementing partner, Outbox and other partner incubation hubs such as Makerere University Innovation and Incubation Centre (MUIIC), MUBS Entrepreneurship Innovation and Incubation Centre, Stanbic Business Incubator, and Shona in the Central Region over the next six months.
The Hi-Innovator programme is a two-phase initiative that was officially launched in May 2021. The first phase consisted of self-directed online learning via a platform providing foundational business knowledge to entrepreneurs to enable them to address gaps in their businesses.
The second phase is a six-month business support process where entrepreneurs have an opportunity to receive grant funding, technical assistance, business development and market development support to enable them scale their businesses.
136 businesses in total completed the first phase and 42 were selected to pitch their business ideas to an investment committee consisting of seasoned entrepreneurs in Uganda.
NSSF Deputy Managing Director Patrick Ayota said that Hi-Innovator Programme, an Innovations initiative is aimed at creating an ecosystem where the innovation of Small and Growing Businesses in Uganda can be harnessed and supported to mature into viable businesses, providing a pathway to the creation of work opportunities for women and youth in Uganda.
“The programme focuses on women and youth businesses specifically to tap into the entrepreneurial spirit for which young Ugandans are known for. In partnership with the Mastercard Foundation and support from other partners, we hope to bring new economic opportunities through thousands of work opportunities over the next five years,” he said.
Ayota explained that to qualify for grant funding, technical and market development support, the 42 businesses selected, were subjected to a strict criterion that assessed their readiness to expand their operations and potential to create work opportunities.
The businesses were evaluated by seasoned entrepreneurs in Uganda who assessed their ability to profitably scale if provided with the right technical and financial assistance as well as potential to create work opportunities for young people and the competency of the management teams over a period of time.
“We also specifically targeted businesses in the agriculture value chain such as agro-processing, agro-industry, and service support. We chose agriculture specifically because the sector employs about 73 percent of the population and has potential to create more jobs for youth and women,” Ayota added.
Speaking at the same event, the Mastercard Foundation Lead Micro, Small and Medium sized enterprises for Uganda, Arnold Byarugaba, said that the Foundation’s vision is to support highly impactful and scalable small and growing businesses to access seed capital and technical support for their businesses while creating a collaborative, sustainable and efficient business ecosystem.