Business compliance brings a host of potential new benefits for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The ability to take on more staff, access government resources, and engage in new corporate partnerships are among the lesser-known benefits brought about by business compliance. Another key opportunity is securing investment.

To help explain the importance of business compliance when it comes to investment opportunities, we sat down with Eria Kaweireku – a senior investment executive in the SME Division at the Uganda Investment Authority. The UIA is a statutory agency mandated to initiate and support measures that enhance investment in Uganda and advise the government on appropriate policies to promote investment and growth.

According to Eria, roughly 87% of the Ugandan economy is run informally. Eria explains that this informality stems from business owners’ desire to keep outsiders out of their operations, which are typically family-owned businesses operating out of their homes. In doing so, however, what business owners overlook is that this also keeps them from accessing important investment to further grow their businesses. Businesses are much more likely to attract investment – both local and foreign – when they have fulfilled local requirements. Large investors, especially foreign direct investors, are keen to mitigate compliance risks and specifically seek out new partnership opportunities with businesses that have a a risk mitigation strategy in place – much of it starting with the integral component of ensuring a business is registered and has taken the appropriate steps to operate legally and safely in a specific sector.

While it is a corporate government requirement that may take a bit of time to complete, it is a much smoother process than many business owners may think. Eria outlines a 3-step process that starts with business owners registering their businesses with the Ugandan Registration Services Bureau (Click here for our interview with the URSB). Next, they receive a TIN certificate from the Ugandan Revenue Authority. Lastly, businesses receive the necessary permits allowing them to operate within a particular sector.

In the past, it took businesses a long time to fulfill all of the requirements, but the introduction of the One-Stop Center has helped address that bottleneck. The One-Stop Center, based in Kampala, places all the regulatory agencies and authorities under a single roof. It streamlines the registration process by placing all registration services together so business can access “registration at the registration services bureau, TIN at the revenue authority, investment license at Uganda Investment Authority, [and] work permits [with] the director of immigration” at the same place.

To further simplify the process, in addition to the One-Stop Center, UIA has also launched the Tax Registration Expansion Program (TREP). The TREP is being championed by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, Uganda Revenue Authority and local governments to make tax benefits simpler and easier to access. Eria reiterated the importance of business compliance to attracting investment, and he highlighted that the UIA is here to help. For more information, please contact info@ugandainvest.go.ug  or +256-393-202-077 / +256-393-202-076