Are you an early-stage startup with a tech solution for the world’s most significant challenges? Apply for the Norrsken Impact Accelerator by 13 February 2022!

Norrsken Foundation, a non-profit foundation based in Switzerland, seeks applicants for its Impact Accelerate programme. The 2022 edition of the Impact Accelerator programme is designed to identify the world’s most promising impact startups and support them to scale. The programme targets early-stage startups globally that leverage technology to create and scale innovative solutions to new and old societal and environmental challenges.

The program includes an eight-week growth sprint and Norrsken House in Stockholm and a mentorship roster of 50 entrepreneurs, investors and unicorn founders. Applicants will have an opportunity to pitch their ideas to over 300 top international investors. Successful applicants will receive a USD 125,000 upfront or pre-seed investment from the Norrsken Foundation.

For more information about the programme, visit: Norrsken Impact Accelerator

To apply, visit: Impact Accelerator Application

Are you an early-stage startup with a scalable business idea? Apply for the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme by 31 March 2022!

The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), an African private-sector-led philanthropic foundation empowering young African entrepreneurs across 54 African countries, opened applications for the 2022 TEF Entrepreneurship Programme. The programme, which started in 2015, has supported over 15,000 entrepreneurs in 54 African countries with training, mentoring, and startup capital.

The TEF Entrepreneurship Programme is a 10-year flagship initiative with a commitment of USD 100 million to identify, train, mentor and fund 10,000 entrepreneurs able to change the face of business in Africa. TEF training is designed to be self-paced for each entrepreneur to allow necessary flexibility for participants to learn while managing their businesses and other responsibilities.

Through the programme, successful applicants will be offered the following:

  • 12 weeks of business management training
  • Seed capital of USD 5,000
  • Networking with business leaders from the TEF network
  • Access to business advisory services and market linkages via the TEFConnect proprietary platform

Interested applicants are required to fulfil the following eligibility requirements:

  • Have a scalable business idea or early-stage company operating for less than five years
  • Be above 18 years of age
  • An application must only focus on one business entity or idea
  • Business must not adversely affect the environment, lives, and property
  • Business ideas must be the original work of those making the submissions

To apply for the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme, visit: TEF Entrepreneurship Programme Application

Do you have a business that is keen on sustainability? Apply for the Swedish Institute Management Programme by 13 February 2022!

The Swedish Institute, a public agency that encourages interest and trust in Sweden globally, invites applicants for its Swedish Institute Management Programme 2022. The programme is set to support 60 African businesses interested in bridging the gap between desire and action on sustainability. Through the programme, participants will be given tools and have access to knowledge from experts in the field to support them in putting sustainability at the core of their business strategy and improving their leadership skills.

The programme will be conducted online and at local conferences where participants will benefit from:

  • Access to in-depth knowledge and skills about sustainable business practices focusing on human rights, climate and the environment, decent working conditions and anti-corruption
  • Access to capacity building and knowledge transfer to lead change and promote sustainable business practices in an entrepreneur’s organisation
  • Learn from insights into business cases for sustainability in Sweden, one of the leading countries in sustainable business practice
  • Access to knowledge that allows entrepreneurs to use design thinking to develop creative and sustainable solutions to complex problems
  • Access to customized expert coaching based on an entrepreneurs’ organisation and their personal needs
  • Unique opportunity for close collaboration and exchange with colleagues from several other countries, developing strong, long-lasting professional networks
  • Access to the global Swedish Institute alumni network with leaders committed to sustainable business and responsible leadership

The programme seeks to support entrepreneurs keen on sustainably running their businesses and advocate for sustainable business practices in their respective countries. Additionally, interested applicants should fulfil the following to apply:

  • Be a citizen and resident of Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda or Zambia
  • Be between 25 and 50 years old
  • Have an entrepreneurial mindset and a track record of making things happen
  • Demonstrate a willingness to support and share their experience and knowledge with other participants
  • Have a high level in both written and spoken English
  • Have a post-secondary education

To apply, visit: SIMP Application

Are you an early-stage startup seeking to build a successful impact-driven business? Apply for the 2021 Savvy Global Fellowship!

Savvy Global Fellowship, a virtual fellowship program, seeks to support early-stage startup entrepreneurs to build impact-driven business solutions. Savvy Global Fellowship is a 12-week program that has trained over 2,500 early-stage startups from 113 countries across the globe. Through the program,  fellows benefit from business training on topics like fundraising, team building to execute business strategies, creating publicity for products or services, scaling into a new market, and ensuring customer retention and loyalty.

Applications are open to early-stage entrepreneurs between the ages of 18 and 40 years. Interested applicants should demonstrate a willingness to learn and create sustainable change in society and the world. Selected applicants will go through the following during the program:

  • E-learning: Fellows will learn all aspects of business, ranging from ideation to scale
  • Assessment: Fellows will take a combination of multiple-choice quizzes to identify their strengths and weaknesses
  • Peer mentorship: Fellows will be paired with peers with more experience to facilitate guidance and knowledge transfer
  • Expert mentorship: Fellows will benefit from expert mentorship from over 100 renowned experts across different industries
  • Certificate of completion: After 12 weeks, fellows will receive a certificate of completion and have access to the Savvy platform for information on impact entrepreneurship, personal branding, capacity building, and professional opportunities

To apply for the Savvy Fellowship Program, visit: Application

Register for the NSSF’s Financial Intelligence Program today!

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Uganda, a national saving scheme, launched a Financial Literacy Action. Through this initiative, NSSF seeks to support Ugandans by equipping them with financial and investment knowledge to enable them to make informed financial decisions.

Entrepreneurs and business owners will have the opportunity to enroll in a three-month program free of charge. Training topics cover entrepreneurship, business hubs, personal investment, increasing income inflows, and professional growth.

In order to enroll, participants are only required to subscribe to the program online. The training is offered via several channels, including an online platform, workplaces, peer cohorts, and institutional setups such as rotary and churches. Upon completion of the program, participants will be awarded certification in personal finance management.

This program is implemented in partnership with financial regulators such as the Capital Market Authority, Insurance Regulatory Authority, Bank of Uganda and Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority.

To register visit: Financial Intelligence Program

Do you have a tech solution that positively impacts society? Apply for the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge by February 11, 2022!

Cisco, a multinational technology conglomerate, seeks to support tech startups through their Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge. The aim of this competition is to recognize and reward early-stage entrepreneurs worldwide whose tech business solutions are focused on social impact in their communities.

Successful applicants will benefit from peer and industry validation of their tech solutions and an opportunity for global recognition and publicity for their businesses. Additionally, successful applicants will receive the following cash prizes:

Panel vote:

  • A single team will be awarded USD 250,000 as a grand winner
  • Three teams globally (Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia, Asia Pacific, Japan and China) will be awarded USD 75,000 each as regional first runner ups
  • Three teams will be awarded USD 50,000 each as second runners ups

People and employees’ choice:

  • The finalist entry who will receive the most votes will be awarded a people’s choice award, and they will receive USD 10,000.
  • The finalist entry who will receive the most votes will be awarded the Cisco Employees’ Choice award and will receive a cash prize of USD 15,000

Special prizes:

  • Special prizes for climate impact and regeneration prize won by a single team with a cash prize of USD 100,000 for the winner, USD 50,000 for the second runners up and USD 50,000 for the HBCU startup prize.

Interested applicants should fulfil the following conditions to be eligible for the Challenge:

  • Have tech solutions that use digital technology to positively impact society or the environment.
  • Applicants should have tech solutions focusing at least on one of these areas, including water or food security, health care, financial inclusion, education, accessibility, and the environment.
  • Applicants registering as individuals or a team must be above 18 years of age.
  • Applicants registering as business entities should be legally registered with the local authorities.

To apply for the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge, visit: CGPSC Application

Lessons learned on business compliance

Our focus on business compliance this past month has provided business owners with a roadmap to become and remain fully compliant. While compliance is often seen as meaning businesses see greater tax, registration and administrative obligations, the benefits from otherwise unavailable funding, partnership, and growth opportunities make these obligations worthwhile. Compliant businesses are more likely to access credit and investment capital, develop their operations more quickly, and benefit from partnerships with larger companies looking for downstream suppliers. To wrap up our series, we’ve rounded up the key lessons from interviews with experts and practitioners that discussed the ins and outs of business compliance. 

Business Registration 

Business registration is the process of formalizing your business – it starts with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) and is the first step in business compliance. Business owners must decide whether they will register as a sole proprietorship – a business consisting of a single person – or as a company – a business with multiple members that may protect owners from the company’s legal liabilities. A sole proprietorship typically requires submission of an online form as well as payment of a one-time 24,000 UGX registration fee. Companies require greater administrative paperwork and must pay an incorporation fee based on the starting capital used for the business. They must also submit annual returns forms.  

Tax Compliance 

Tax compliance refers to the fulfillment of a business’ tax obligations as outlined by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). Tax-compliant businesses need to register for a free, ten-digit Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) that allows them to fulfill their tax obligations. The TIN also allows businesses to obtain operating licenses necessary to work in a given industry. After obtaining their TIN, businesses file annual tax returns and pay any owed taxes.  Business owners can opt to pay their tax obligations annually, bi-annually, quarterly, or even monthly. While businesses can seek advice from a tax consultant, there are many URA resources available to businesses that can help guide them through their tax compliance journey. 

Human Resource Compliance 

Human Resource (HR) compliance specifically addresses the health and safety of a business’ staff while mitigating risks and hazards to health in the workplace. Businesses not prioritizing HR compliance may face serious consequences from officials such as closures or imprisonment if a staff member is harmed in the course of their job. To ensure compliance, businesses are encouraged to research requirements for their particular industry and designate someone within their organization to monitor compliance practices. Usually, these compliance guidelines can be obtained from regulatory bodies such as the Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE) or local licensing bodies such as the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA). 

Third-Party Compliance 

Third-party compliance deals with agreements in third-party contracts to ensure that the parties involved adhere to its rules, or in the event that they do not, are held liable. To start, businesses should be formally registered to ensure that all parties are governed by the rules and regulations applicable within their particular industry. Businesses entering into a third-party contract should be on the lookout for potential risks such as inflexibility in contracts, which may not take into account unexpected business interruptions, or unsuitable contract conditions transposed from other contexts such as copying western-styled contracts which do not account for the nuances of the Ugandan business environment. To limit risk in third-party contracts, businesses should carefully review contract terms of reference, payment structures, timelines, and arbitration methods. 

Investment Compliance 

Investment compliance addresses businesses’ need for investment to grow and expand operations. Larger companies and partners looking to invest in smaller businesses generally seek companies brandishing a risk-mitigation strategy. This usually begins with basic business compliance steps such as registering their business, obtaining a TIN, and having the appropriate licenses to operate within their industry sector. To help businesses better understand investment compliance obligations, the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) provides resources such as their One-Stop Center which places all the regulatory agencies and authorities under a single roof.  

In closing, businesses seeking new growth, investment, and partnership opportunities should determine what compliance areas need attention and address those needs. For a better understanding of the individual compliance areas, readers should visit our corresponding articles for an in-depth read. Stay tuned for our next series to help navigate Uganda’s intricate business environment. 

A Year in Review

The COVID-19 Business Info Hub has tackled a number of topics this past year aimed at supporting you as an SME. We have featured articles with insights from public sector experts, business owners and entrepreneurs, and industry stakeholders from across sectors to help you grow your business despite challenging times. Below are some of the articles from the past year that entrepreneurs and business owners found most insightful. Stay tuned – there’s plenty more to come in 2022!

Voices of Young Entrepreneurs

Transforming innovative ideas of the youth into viable business ventures – Diana Ntamu, Director MUBS Centre.

Voices from the Oil and Gas Sector

Stanbic Business Incubator Chief Executive gives an overview of the opportunities for SMEs in the Oil and Gas Value Chain in Uganda

Voices of the Agribusiness Sector

Learn how Stanbic Bank Uganda’s One Farm Platform promotes business linkages within the agribusiness sector

Growing Your Skills

Learn from Lilian Katiso, Proprietor of Maua and More, on the strategies she implemented to ensure business continuity during crisis

Thinking of starting a business or growing your startup but unsure of where to start? Develop a Business Model Canvas

Do you have a tech initiative that drives civic participation? Apply for Round I of the Africa Union Civic Tech Fund by 16 January 2022!

The African Union Civic Tech Fund is a pan-African competition seeks to support innovative civic initiatives that demonstrate the potential to lead to citizen-led transformative action across the African continent. Through the Fund, select initiatives will be awarded financial support ranging from EUR 10,000 to EUR 20,000 over an implementation period of six months to be focused on upscaling, adaptation, or replication of pre-existing civic tech initiatives. Support may also be channeled towards funding the deployment of civic technology in partnership with a particular citizen group or civil society that does not have the expertise to do so independently.  

In addition to financial support, the Fund will also provide technical support, including:  

  • Technical support 
    • Virtual inception/acceleration week (hosted by AfriLabs) 
    • Provision of embedded technical expertise through the engagement of civic tech specialists 
  • Thematic support 
    • Provision of thematic expertise on democracy support, African Union governance & continental policymaking 
  • Marketing, communication & showcasing support 
    • Facilitation of access to decision-makers at the African Union level as well as the international development community 
  • Peer-to-peer learning & networking  
    • Facilitation of exchange between recipients and other members of related civic tech ecosystems 

Priorities for the Fund are across relevant areas such as participation in public space and public discourse, electoral cycles and elections, rule of law and orderly transfers of power between governments, democratic culture and political pluralism, peace and security, and human, economic, and sustainable development. An example of a potential initiative would be one that may propose to leverage technology to enable citizens to have a voice on key issues within their constituencies such as by encouraging participation in digital councils.  

Interested applicants must fulfill the following to apply: 

  • Legal entity 
  • Registered in an African Union Member State 
  • Able to sign a service contract agreement (as opposed to a grant contract agreement) 
  • Not be bankrupt, in the process of being wound up, nor have its affairs administered by the courts 
  • Must not have received an adverse audit opinion from its own auditors or its donors’ auditor 
  • Must have policies in place and/or practices in place to guarantee the ethical management of personal identifiable information 

Proposals are due 16 January 2022. Preliminary award decisions will be made in February 2022, with implementation set to take place between April and September 2022.  

For more information about the Fund, visit: CIVIC TECH FUND 

To apply, visit: CIVIC TECH FUND Application 

Are you an SME that wants to engage in a third-party contract but unsure of what it takes to do it well? Apollo Muyanja Mbazzira from Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) answers key questions to help you get started

Are you an SME that wants to engage in a third-party contract but unsure of what it takes to do it well? Apollo Muyanja Mbazzira from Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) answers key questions to help you get started 

Third-party contracts (also referred to as implementing partner contracts) are agreements wherein a third business supports a contract between two distinct businesses by providing goods or services that support a common goal. These contracts are critical for the profitability of many businesses and key to the Ugandan economy. Small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) often build their businesses around serving as third-party suppliers, playing a critical and integral role in supply chains by contributing the goods and services that support lead firms’ operations.  

For instance, independent SMEs may provide contracting services to a larger manufacturing firm. Lead firms – the larger companies at the top of the supply chain – typically need these SMEs to build their supply chains or ensure that they maintain market leadership. But along with important benefits both for lead firms and implementing partners, engaging in third-party contracts comes with unique risks. Fortunately, those risks can be managed by best practices around third-party compliance.  

The COVID-19 Business Info Hub sat down with Apollo Muyanja Mbazzira, a project director with Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) to understand more about the topic. PSFU recently partnered with Mastercard Foundation to design and implement the Lead Firm Structure for Youth Employment in Uganda program. Operating as an implementing partner for Mastercard Foundation has given PSFU first-hand expertise on the importance and benefits of third-party compliance. 

What is third-party compliance? 

Before diving into the ins and outs of third-party compliance, Apollo defines what it means – essentially, it means that the parties in a supply contract adhere to the rules of that contract and are held liable in the case that they do not.  

As a key first step, SMEs engaged by lead firms in an implementing partner contract typically need to be business compliant – registered with a TIN and up to date with all tax obligations. This ensures that the businesses involved in the implementing partner contract are all governed by rules and regulations that apply to the sector they are operating in and can be held legally liable in the case that they do not fulfill a particular obligation.  

What are the risks around engaging in third-party contracts? 

Contract inflexibility is a major risk that comes with third-party contracts. With more parties involved than in a simpler two-party contract, delays in deliverables or changes to activities may be more likely and have broader effects. If the contract is not structured in such a way as to allow for some contingency or for a method of modifying activities based on challenges or changes that come up, these delays or changes can cause issues with the ability of some parties to meet obligations or receive payments.  

Apollo also explains that some contract structures employed in Uganda have been borrowed from Western contexts. These contracts are modeled on a business structure and relationship that does not consider the nuances of Uganda’s business environment. This creates a risk to SMEs who may enter a contract that disadvantages them in their relationship as an implementing party. A typical example is that large manufacturers in Uganda are surrounded by companies that may prefer to acquire goods and services from informal service providers, which are considered much cheaper in comparison with formally run businesses. A third party contract written in Western contexts may restrict hiring to only formal service providers – and therefore put the contractor at risk of breach of contract for hiring informally. It is important to look for these kinds of nuances when reviewing a contract and ensure that the terms match.  

Are there best practices that help to mitigate those risks? 

The main tool that businesses have in mitigating the risks that come along with implementing third-party contracts is to ensure that obligations are spelled out clearly in the contract itself. In particular, businesses should pay attention to the following:  

  • Terms of reference – Are the obligations and activities required by all parties spelled out clearly? Is it obvious which party is responsible for what? 
  • Payment structure – Are the deliverables due to trigger payments from one party to another clear? Is there a timeline in place for invoice due dates and payment turnaround times? 
  • Timeline – Are there deadlines for obligations and activities in place? Is there a contingency plan or method for managing delays? 
  • Arbitration methods – While no business wants to think about what might happen if they or a partner business violates the terms of an implementing partner contract, it is sometimes unavoidable. In this case, is it clear what the method of arbitration will be?  

Ensuring these basic aspects of an implementing partner contract are in order safeguards businesses from major risks while allowing them to grow their business and network. Businesses are encouraged to engage their third-party counterparts to ensure their partnerships are mutually fair and beneficial.