Are you an early or growth stage startup interested in scaling your business? Apply for the THRIVE VIII Accelerator program 2022

The THRIVE Accelerator program seeks applicants for the THRIVE VIII Accelerator program 2022. The program targets and supports early and growth-stage startups active in various agriculture value chains to facilitate their business growth. The annual program offers a three month virtual and in-person training that provides investment opportunities and direct access to practical learnings from Central California’s largest agriculture companies.

Why should you join the program?

By joining the program, successful applicants will get the following benefits:

  • Investment funding of up to UGX 178,000,000 in cash
  • Access to an extensive partner network inclusive of over 6,000 farmers, growers, and agriculture partners for technology adoption
  • Mentorship and coaching from experts and industry leaders from our extensive global entrepreneur network
  • Participation in our award-winning program that will validate your startup to potential investors and give you access to THRIVE’s ecosystem

Who is eligible to apply?

To be eligible, applicants must have technologies that drive towards a more efficient, sustainable and secure agriculture future with a focus on:

  • Supply chain management and traceability
  • Big data and predictive analytics
  • Biotechnology
  • Indoor farming
  • Animal health and livestock

How to apply

Eligible startups can apply by filling in the form here.

Application Deadline: 05th November 2021.

For more information, visit https://thriveagrifood.com/

 


Struggling to manage Internet costs for your small business? Here are ways to optimize your Internet usage.

Due to the pandemic, many Ugandans are working remotely, and as a result, there is increased demand for Internet connectivity. However, increased demand has come alongside higher costs. On 1st July 2021, the government introduced a 12% excise duty on airtime, value-added services, and Internet data.

Internet service is an essential tool for improving competitiveness and efficiency, reaching customers, and interacting with vendors, and with the Covid-19 pandemic, it has become even more critical. Business owners already struggling to maintain their businesses afloat are now also grappling with this added expense. The Covid-19 Business Information Hub spoke to Samuel Aruho, a Customer Service and operations Engineer with Nokia Networks, about how business owners can optimize Internet usage for their businesses. He shared four tips:

  1. Determine the data speed and reliability you need

Internet speeds are determined by how much data the connection can download or upload per second—often referred to in Mbps (megabits per second) or Gbps (gigabits per second). The speed and reliability also depend on your location and the data plan you have. Business owners must engage service providers to test data speeds at their locations; this helps you understand whether the connection will be fast enough and offer a performance quality suited for services and applications you use. It also helps you avoid overspending. Businesses can also take advantage of several tools available on the Internet to evaluate data speed needs, such as https://www.verizonwireless.com/freedom/datacalculator.html.

  1. Choose an appropriate Internet connection

There are different types of Internet connections, offering various performances in terms of data speed and mobility. These include optical fibre, cable, satellite, WiFi, and 3G/4G mobile networks. While the different types of connections are associated with various pros and cons, the choice of connection typically depends on your requirements. In terms of reliability and link uptime, broadband WiFi Internet and Mobile WiFi routers (Mifi) serve as a clear leader against using 3G/4G mobile networks. Mifi routers are the best option for businesses having less than five users who are working remotely. For companies with more than five workers, broadband Internet provides a suitable connection. It allows you to connect up to 10 devices at the same time. The initial cost for a broadband Internet ranges between UGX 165,000 to UGX 350,000, while a Mifi router will cost you between UGX 100,000 to UGX 135,000 depending on the service provider. You can learn more about the available broadband packages here or visit any of these providers MTNAIRTELSMILE or ROKE Telkom for more information.

  1. Reduce unnecessary streaming

Streaming of any kind (music, videos, etc.) increases data usage dramatically. Video streaming is especially something to be cautious about when you need bandwidth for other tasks such as online marketing or virtual meetings. When using apps like Facebook or YouTube, ensure to switch off ‘auto play’ and decide which videos you want to open and watch. You can also cut back on data usage from streaming by watching videos in standard definition instead of high definition. When watching a video, you can select the data usage options auto or low, which consume less data than watching in medium or high that consume more data. Businesses can also consider restricting users to limit streaming, ensuring they instead use bandwidth for more critical tasks for business operations.

  1. Schedule data usage according to business activities

Business activity usually rises and falls according to predictable schedules. Many companies operate on a nine-to-five schedule, while some experience peak activity when the sunsets. Scheduling activities and data usage according to this pattern allows further optimization of digital resources. Suppose your business operates on a nine-to-five basis. Here, you can limit backups and software updates until the evening when operations are done and save a particularly intensive update or backup for the weekend instead. A company that has activities concentrated in the evenings and on weekends should consider the opposite schedule. These backups and updates are critical; remember, if your software isn’t up to date, you can suffer from seriously decreased performance, and you may also risk losing important information if data backup is not done regularly.

The actions above are not exhaustive on optimizing your Internet usage, but they are a strong starting point. Let us know how they work for you via this email covid19businessinfohub@gmail.com.


Do you own an unregistered business or struggle with keeping on top of regulations relevant to your operations? Join us this month as we discuss business compliance and how it can benefit you!

Since the start of the pandemic, business compliance, which refers to how well a company follows the laws and regulations set by the government for its type of business, has seen a considerable decline in attention and relevance across the globe. A recent study by Financial Sector Deepening Uganda found that as many as 20% of businesses in Uganda are unregistered – likely a result of the fact that 25% of respondents don’t know how to register or simply find the registration process too complicated.

While other priorities have certainly been more top of mind for business owners due to Covid-19, this compliance gap creates issues for governments and businesses alike. For governments, non-compliance means that officials lack the data to properly assist Micro-, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) in tough times while also missing out on revenue necessary for public works. More importantly, businesses lose the chance to access government assistance and funding opportunities that arise from registering and operating a compliant business.

To better understand the challenges business owners face in this arena and support you in overcoming them, the Covid-19 Business Info Hub’s October theme explores the world of business compliance. Throughout the month, we’ll carry out interviews with Uganda’s regulatory officials, private sector experts, and representatives from our in-house Stanbic Business Incubator Limited to shed light on the different kinds of business compliance, deep dive into potential benefits like investment and financing opportunities, and help you get started on the path to achieving compliance to unlock new pathways to growth no matter where along that road you currently are.

Our October content will cover all these subjects and more – allowing Uganda’s business owners a chance to add an often-overlooked piece to their overall business strategy. The Covid-19 Business Info Hub’s October theme will be accompanied by information on funding and training opportunities and our recently launched Compassionate Leadership webinar series. We look forward to sharing these insights with you as we unearth the complex world of Uganda’s regulatory compliance environment.


Are you running an innovative project that helps communities thrive and employs youth? Apply for funding to scale your project by 31 October!

In partnership with the Visegrad Fund, Uganda’s Office of the Prime Minister invites applications for grant funding to support and scale inclusive projects in Uganda. The grant, which targets projects that help communities thrive and provide youth employment, will range from UGX 5,000,000 to UGX 800,000,000 and can be used to enhance project concepts, engage in capacity-building activities, and/or for feasibility studies if needed, among others.

Who is eligible to apply?

Grant funding is open to individuals, groups or businesses engaged in the sectors of Agriculture, Consultancy, Education, Fashion, IT & Digital Arts, Manufacturing, Performing Arts, Trade & Commerce, Transport and Tourism. Projects must demonstrate innovation and provide employment opportunities to youth.

Note: All applicants must be aged above 18 years and live in Uganda.

How to apply

Request the application form by sending an email to visegradfund.org@gmail.com.

Application Deadline: 31st October 2021.

For more information, contact:

Tel: +256 758818564

Email: visegradfund.org@gmail.com

Visit:  https://www.visegradfund.org


Benefits of ISO certification for small businesses

If you’ve ever heard of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) certification, you may think that it is meant solely for large businesses; however, ISO certification offers benefits for small businesses as well. The certification involves documenting your business’s practices, processes, and procedures and can have real impacts on your bottom line.

ISO certification, which is under the responsibility of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), requires  documentation of procedures, internal audits, management reviews, management of non-conformances, and compliance audits. While this may seem daunting for small business owners, its benefits include:

Improving tender success: Have you ever been beaten at a contract because your competitor is certified? If your business is ISO certified, you are more likely to get the contract because you are demonstrating your commitment to providing a quality service regardless of your company size.

Increasing customer satisfaction: Satisfied customers are the primary target for any size business. ISO certification ensures you have the processes and procedures in place to identify and resolve customer issues better and more efficiently.

Improving business efficiency: When you are a small business, efficient use of resources is critical to your success. ISO certification ensures you have the tools to reduce wasted time, money, and effort.

Jovan Nizeyimaana, an ISO expert accredited by My FDA Registrar Corp,  explains that the duration and cost of certification depend on several factors. These include your business sector, annual turnover, number of employees and if you require an industry-specific accreditation. From your first consultation, the certification process can take as little as 45 days or more, depending on the size and complexity of your business.   Jovan Nizeyimaana encourages small business owners to seek ISO certification if they are ambitious and positioning their businesses to grow.

Patricia Bageine Ejalu, Deputy Executive Director in charge of standards at UNBS, highlights that although ISO certification is still voluntary in Uganda, it is compulsory for businesses that want to access some markets in Europe and America. She advises companies start the ISO certification journey by accessing ISO training and relevant standards from UNBS on  https://unbs.go.ug//content.php?src=training-calendar&pg=content  and https://webstore.unbs.go.ug/ respectively.

For more information on ISO certification,

Email:  certification@unbs.go.ug

Call:  +256 417333250

Visit https://unbs.go.ug


Women's World Banking's virtual Fintech Innovation Challenge 2021

Women’s World Banking invites you to register and participate in the virtual Fintech Innovation Challenge 2021. The event will highlight Fintech innovations serving unbanked and underserved women to build women’s security and prosperity in the face of global inequalities. Women’s World Banking designs and invests in financial solutions in emerging markets to create greater economic stability and prosperity for women, their families, and their communities.

As Fintechs continue to innovate financial services and work towards financial inclusion, it’s important to recognize gender equality within those Fintechs. Therefore the event will host a fireside chat discussing how to build an inclusive workplace while working as a crucial driver for women’s financial inclusion. It will also feature four finalists from the innovation competition who will present their Fintech solutions that enable the unbanked and underserved women to build resilience through convenient safety nets in the post-COVID-19 world.

Date: 12th October 2021

Agenda

  • Advancing women’s leadership in Fintech fireside chat
  • Fintech Innovation Challenge finalist presentations
  • Driving inclusive policies for Fintech
  • Fintech Innovation Challenge winner announcement

How to register

To attend the event, register here.

For more information:

Email: fintechchallenge@womensworldbanking.org

Visit:  https://www.womensworldbanking.org/fintech-innovation-challenge-2021/


Strategies for marketing and promoting tourism through the pandemic

With the many preventative measures put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19, the pandemic has put a strain on tourism businesses. While these measures are necessary to keep us safe and healthy, they also make it challenging to run a business as you normally might and make a profit. This month, the tourism sector celebrates World Tourism Day under the theme “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”. World Tourism Day, celebrated each year on 27 September, is highlights tourism’s social, cultural, political, and economic value and the sector’s contribution towards reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

As the sector celebrates this day, tourism companies can use it as an opportunity to focus their energies on marketing and promoting their businesses to kick start recovery and growth. While critical, marketing can be challenging as businesses navigate the new normal with limited resources. To help address the challenges, here are four strategies that can help.

Focus on the customer experience:  Within tourism, it is essential to remember that most customers are not paying for products or services; they are paying for experiences. The trick is to promote the superior experience you offer to allow them share this experience with others. For example, if you work in a niche tourism area, promoting fantastic food, coffee, wildlife and nature is a great way to broaden customer appeal.

Optimize your website: How is your website looking now? Make sure the experiences you’ve developed are well promoted with appealing photography to increase inquires and sales. Now that so much has gone digital, update your website to accommodate online ordering and payment.

Innovate your brand: COVID-19 is a call-out to creative and inventive minds. If visitors cannot travel to you, you may need to travel to them – here, using virtual tours can allow potential customers to understand the layers and textures of the experience you offer. You can also offer tours with recorded audio instead of in-person guides.

Inspire potential customers: The pandemic has been tough, and people are looking for inspiration. Find out how they feel and understand what they want so you can ensure it is an essential part of your offering. Many companies have been focusing on their websites and social media pages and posting inspirational pictures, videos, and messages. Post fun and educational content to inspire your customers for the next visit.

While these strategies are not exhaustive to help market and promote your tourism business, they are a strong place to start. Let us know how they work for you via this email covid19businessinfohub@gmail.com.


Are you a youth entrepreneur with a solution aimed at adapting to climate change? Apply for the African Youth Adaptation Solutions (YouthADAPT) Challenge today!

The Global Center on Adaptation (GCA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) invite youth entrepreneurs to apply for the African Youth Adaptation Solutions (YouthADAPT) Challenge under the African Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP). The Challenge seeks to inspire and scale solutions focused on helping adapt to ongoing climate change driven by youth entrepreneurs in Africa. Selected applicants will have an opportunity to develop and fully commercialize their businesses via a 12-month accelerator program. Ten winners will be selected, and each will receive a business grant of up to UGX 350 million to grow their business.

The Challenge is open to solutions (products, services, tools, or ideas) targeted at climate change adaptation and increasing resilience. These solutions must also contribute to raising awareness on climate adaptation among communities. To be eligible for the Challenge, applicants must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Youth-led applicants aged between the ages of 18 and 35 years
  • Commitment to delivering climate adaptation or resilience solutions addressing real-life challenges
  • Legally registered enterprises operating in Africa
  • Be able to show company revenues for at least two years

Note: 50% of the enterprises to be supported will be women-owned or women-led.

How to apply

Interested youth enterprises can apply by filling in the form here.

Submission deadline: 06th October 2021.

For more information: 

Email: solutionschallenge@gca.org

Visit: https://gca.org/african-youth-adaptation-solutions-challenge-2


Stanbic Bank introduces the Compassionate Leadership Public Engagement Series  in partnership with ConsumerCentriX

Stanbic Bank introduces the Compassionate Leadership Public Engagement Series in partnership with ConsumerCentriX

“Compassion is an intention that does not necessarily change your actions; instead, it changes the way you conduct your actions.”
- The Mind of the Leader, Harvard Business Review (HBR) Press, 2018 

In light of the tremendous challenges we have all faced over the last 18 months, Stanbic Bank is pleased to have the opportunity to introduce the Compassionate Leadership Public Engagement Series in partnership with ConsumerCentriX. The idea behind the series, which will consist of three webinars, is that while challenges and suffering are unavoidable, resilience is possible through compassion. Businesses and those they support (both as employees and as customers) can thrive via compassionate leadership.

During the second wave of the pandemic, Uganda faced unanticipated and heartbreaking realities, and nearly everyone was directly affected by COVID-19. As the country now works toward vaccinating the population,  the recently lifted 42-day lockdown, while helping save lives, has clearly had an impact on the resurgence of the economy. Other effects have been felt across the board, whether related to health, education, or mental health and wellbeing – or beyond.

Stanbic Bank has felt these impacts since the start of the pandemic and made the critical decision to act with compassion toward its employees and its customers early on. It has always been the bank’s mission to be a customer-centric organisation, in words and in deeds. SBU’s leader, Anne Juuko, found herself playing the roles of mother and big sister in addition to her responsibilities as Chief Executive Officer in response to the new realities of the pandemic. Executive management introduced supportive measures aimed at safeguarding the wellbeing of employees; for example, the bank invested in free COVID-19 testing for all employees at a time when tests are unaffordable for many individuals, and the bank invested in a well-equipped sickbay where infected employees receive treatment in a safe environment until out of danger. In addition to health-related concerns, the bank also focused on financial hardship brought about by the pandemic. Many Stanbic Bank employees were and continue to support multiple dependents beyond their immediate children and household members with the uptick in unemployment. The bank, in another act of compassionate leadership, extended financial COVID-19 relief of UGX500,000 to each staff member.

As the pandemic slowed businesses and put individual workers out of work, thousands of SBU’s retail and business customers were worried about how they would repay their loans with the bank. In response to this, the bank restructured a loan book worth over UGX900billion and suspended interest payment on loans to thousands of small businesses in multiple sectors. The bank also focused on relationship management, reaching out to customers through multiple lines of communication to encourage and share useful information to help customers stay afloat.

Unfortunately, this pandemic is far from over, both around the world and in Uganda, but we are not powerless to work towards a better future for ourselves, our businesses, our communities, and our loved ones.  As leaders, we carry responsibility to continue to advocate for a better and stronger economy, adequate healthcare, and fairer vaccine distribution. Just as importantly, we can find strength to sustain ourselves through our commitment to universal virtues like compassion.

The Compassionate Leadership Public Engagement Series, which will be launched on November 4th and run for 6months, will feature discussions with top leaders from key sectors such as banking, healthcare, and small business in Uganda. Join us as we share practical strategies and tools to help business owners lead with compassion, fostering better working environments and leading to stronger business outcomes. We look forward to engaging with you on this exciting series!

 

 


Tips on effective leadership for business owners through the crisis and beyond!

 For a small business owner, leadership skills are never more important than they are during tough times. Covid-19 has created the need for agile leaders who can see the new trends and make a great effort to move their teams in the path of excellence. The pandemic has also highlighted the unprecedented reaction to a crisis, and thus transformational leadership is vital. Tony Otoa, Chief Executive of Stanbic Business Incubator, explains that transformational leadership focuses on individuals in the company to have a role in transforming the company. It requires leaders to adopt to the new normal and innovatively plan for future uncertainties. Business owners tend to get more value from their teams while practising this kind of leadership.

 

However, we know that many businesses are struggling because the people supposed to lead and support them are still trying to find their bearings. We also understand that the company’s leadership can enhance or destroy the team’s trust and morale. There are a few core ideas leaders can’t ignore. Doing so would put them at a disadvantage. With that in mind, here are five tips to help business owners lead through the current crisis and beyond.

 

Develop razor-sharp focus: Set aside projects that don’t help the business thrive in the current environment and focus on those that do. You may be working on a much smaller margin than before, so concentrating on the bottom line is more important. Make sure your team knows your new priorities and where they should be devoting their time and efforts.

 

Be as flexible as possible: It’s never easy to make changes in midstream, especially when those changes involve a team of people with different personalities, circumstances and needs. Be willing to loosen long-standing restrictions if it will help morale. Listening to requests from employees and making changes to help them adjust to the “new normal” will go a long way toward increasing productivity.  

 

Delegate, but maintain accountability: Request for regular updates or status reports, even if things may be a little chaotic. You’re still steering the ship, so always make sure that you remain on course. If things aren’t getting done, find out why, and make the necessary adjustments. Your business needs to maintain top efficiency to get back on track.

 

Concentrate on communication: Communication is an absolute must, and it starts with you. Reach out to team members regularly. Check-in individually and hold regular team meetings. Please take advantage of solutions like Slack or Microsoft Teams that let the team communicate with one another. Also, look out for feedback on improving any aspect of work-life or the business itself. 

 

Recognize good work: Take the time to recognize when team members are doing work that helps the company thrive and survive. It makes a person feel good when their work is appreciated, and it makes others want to show their value. Both of these things can lead to a happier and more motivated team.

 

We know the pandemic has spotlighted the leaders and is magnifying every decision they make. Therefore business owners are encouraged to embrace these tips as foundational principles that can work, not just during a pandemic but all the time.