Stanbic Business Incubator graduates 468 entrepreneursBritish High Commissioner, Peter West said the Stanbic Incubator is an effective intervention that will strengthen Uganda’s SME sector.
Clutching their certificates with of obvious pride, several hundred smiling entrepreneurs congratulated themselves recently soon after graduating from the Stanbic Business Incubator in Kampala. There was no hiding their excitement to take their enterprises to the next level.
According to Eva Ssewagudde, the Program Manager at the Incubator, “In our initial meetings, I realized that whilst all business owners desired to improve and change, their expectations of us were wide and varied. By the end of the programme, I believe we had spoken to all the expectations through the various interventions undertaken.”
Over three months, some 468 entrepreneurs from 156 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) were given an opportunity to improve their business skills guided by various professionals across several fields. Last week was the fourth graduation ceremony of entrepreneurs from the Stanbic Business Incubator since its inception in February 2018.
Stanbic Bank’s Chief Executive Patrick Mweheire said, “Over this period, business owners have gone through different training sessions ranging from compliance, corporate governance, business planning and analysis, financial literacy, business ethics, joint ventures, contracting, risk and insurance, bid management, procurement and negotiation, quality management, branding and image building among others.”
Apart from Stanbic Bank personnel, facilitators came from Makerere University Business School, leading law and accounting firms together with experts in the insurance industry. The trainees were split into three cohorts, Construction and Fabrication; Transport and Logistics and Camp Services & Hospitality.
Mweheire said, “Recent statistics show improvements in real productivity and revenue gains made by businesses that have completed the training. Sixty two percent of the companies showed positive growth through expansion into new markets and have taken on new employees. This demonstrates the continued growth we hope to for SMEs across the country.”
Speaking as guest of honour, Peter West, the British High Commissioner to Uganda said, SMEs are the cornerstone of sustainable economic growth in country. He commended Stanbic Bank for the intervention provided by the Incubator, saying this was the kind of initiative British tax payers are willing to support. DfID is a leading partner in the programme.
He said, “The Stanbic Business Incubator has brought much needed business development services to Ugandan enterprises and is filling a large gap in the enterprise development landscape. It is important to upscale and improve the SMEs and Stanbic is leading the way in supporting the growth and development of SMEs in Uganda. I am also pleased that Stanbic has recently opened regional incubator centres in Hoima, Mbale, Mbarara and Gulu.”
Julia Mager, Team Leader for the GIZ E4D/SOGA Programme said, “E4D/SOGA is pleased to be partnering with the Stanbic Incubator. The programme aligns with the E4D/SOGA initiative’s objective of promoting local employment through capacity development of both Ugandan enterprises and people, particularly to maximize local benefits brought about by investments in the oil and gas sector.”
She said E4D/SOGA appreciates the Incubator’s sustainable approach which emphasizes leveraging on existing networks and forming new partnerships.
“Based on the E4D/SOGA programme’s prior experience implementing several enterprise development projects, our contribution is enabling the Incubator to expand the reach of these much-needed services to multiple regions presented a unique opportunity to achieve far-reaching impacts in our programme’s key area of focus: getting Ugandan enterprises into lucrative supply chains and Ugandan people into jobs,” she said.
“As you move forward in your growth journey, I encourage SME’s to focus on continuously raising the bar in business and supporting each other through collective sector based mentorship. There are a number of specific sector issues that can only be overcome by working and sharing collectively.” she said.
Stanbic Bank’s Head of Enterprise Development Tony Otoa said, “We are grateful for the partners that have come on board to support us in this initiative which has allowed us to extend the business incubator services across the country. This has allowed us to expand the services and also reach out to various other parts of the country like Hoima and Gulu.”
“Over the two years since the programmes inception, total of 1,489 entrepreneurs from 505 SME’s have been successfully trained and graduated during the last two years,” Otoa said.
Looking ahead, Otoa said the Incubator is looking at consolidating the businesses programmes that have been running so far and seek partnerships in order to increase the impact and reach. He highlighted that several partnerships which are in the pipeline will also allow them to launch a challenge fund for businesses to compete and get startup capital or funds to scale-up.