Trouble understanding Human Resource compliance? Elizabeth Ntege, Executive Director of NFT Consults, helps explain why it matters

Human Resources (HR) is an often-overlooked aspect of business compliance, especially for the many businesses that operate informally. What’s more is that it can be confusing even for those businesses that are formally registered. To explain the importance, benefits and processes of HR compliance, the COVID-19 Business Info Hub sat down with Elizabeth Ntege, Executive Director of NFT Consult, to shed light on the ins and outs of HR compliance.

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is HR compliance for small businesses?

Elizabeth explains that HR compliance pertains to the health and safety of a business’ staff. Business owners are responsible for ensuring workplace safety and providing an environment free from risks and hazards to staff members’ health.

Seems relatively straightforward. So, why is HR compliance particularly important?

COVID-19 has put the health and safety of businesses at the front of public attention. According to Elizabeth, if you aren’t compliant with health and safety regulations, unsafe working conditions could result in the serious injury or even death of a staff member. If a business is found to be non-compliant with health and safety regulations, – for instance, if a staff member suffers a serious injury or death – a business may be closed by officials and the owner may at face imprisonment for negligence. Elizabeth maintains that the risks to your staff and to your business from HR non-compliance are very real “so, ignoring it will not [make it] go away.” There are also more positive benefits to HR compliance. Ensuring your business follows correct health and safety standards contributes to your business’ growth by allowing you to partner with larger companies – whether as contractors or as part of the downstream supply chain – who require these standards from their affiliates.

Now that we understand what HR compliance is and why it’s important, what HR compliance activities should businesses know about?

Elizabeth explains that the specific activities needed to ensure HR compliance for your business are largely dependent on the sector in which your business. For instance, a construction or mining company will likely have many more health and safety hazards than a management consulting firm. Nonetheless, as a business owner you “should always have someone on your team,” says Elizabeth, “able to identify the hazards and risks associated with the work you’re doing and [environment] you’re working in.” Whether a business owner hires an additional team member or chooses to assume the responsibilities themself, this person “should be able to provide your employees, especially in the informal sector…[with] the information and the training they require to do their job safely.” To help standardize the process, businesses should prepare safety policies and procedures then ensure they are enforced within your team and the people outside of your team that you may be working with.

Is there anywhere business owners can find more information about HR compliance?

Businesses have a few options here. First, they can hire an HR compliance consultant like NFT Consults to help guide them through the process. Another other option is to source information on their own. The Federation of Uganda Employers (FUE), the Ministry of Labor, and local city council licensing bodies such as the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) can all help with guidelines to support business compliance.

How do businesses achieve and maintain HR compliance?

Elizabeth explains that most businesses achieve and maintain HR compliance by meeting sector compliance requirements or by achieving health and safety certifications. The operational health, safety, and environment certificate is an internationally recognized compliance certification that most ISO-compliant business partners find desirable. In instances where companies cannot afford the certification, they can always adopt the procedures needed for that certification and simply implement them into their business operations. That way, if they are ever audited for health and safety compliance, any changes to processes or procedures will be quick and inexpensive as they “already had the processes running in the business.” Elizabeth says the best and easiest way to offer services to a particular industry is to adopt their health and safety procedures preemptively. That way, in the event that a business finds the certification process too costly, they will be proactively compliant with their industry standard and able to capitalize on potential future partnerships.


Interested in registering your business but unsure of where to start? Provia Nangobi of the Uganda Registration Services Bureaus explains the business registration process 

Continuing our focus on the importance of business compliance, the COVID-19 Business Info Hub sat down with Provia Nangobi, Head of Public Relations and Corporate Affairs at Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), to understand the first step in keeping your business compliant – business registration. We asked Provia to walk us through the process for different types of businesses operating in the country and shed some light on where business owners can go for support.

Provia explained that the URSB is the government agency responsible for registering businesses and intellectual property rights such as trademarks, copyrights, and patents. In Uganda, a business can be registered either as a sole proprietorship under a business name, a company limited with shares or a company by guarantee akin to a not-for-profit organization. The difference is based mainly on the structure and the number of members of a business. Provia explained more about each of these options.

Sole proprietorships consist of a single person who wants to do business under a legal entity. These businesses are typically smaller in nature and consist of individuals seeking to trade and operate alone while expanding their businesses through credit, investment, and partnership opportunities that formalization affords them. To register a sole proprietorship with the URSB and receive a business certificate, business owners must submit an online form and pay a one-time registration fee of 24,000 UGX. Once those compliance requirements have been fulfilled, businesses are free to begin trading as officially recognized entities.

Registering a company – a process called ‘incorporation’ – is slightly more complex than registering as a sole proprietorship. Compared to sole proprietorships, companies have many more types, structures, and responsibilities, but they stand as distinct legal entities separate from their owners, which protects owners from the company’s legal liabilities. While companies are typically structured to involve multiple people, they can also be structured as ‘single-member” companies for people working independently. The most common companies registered by URSB, according to Provia, are private companies with shares distributed amongst multiple owners. Business owners can also register either a public company that sells stock and part of their shares to the public, unlimited companies, foreign companies or a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee.

Regardless of what type of company business owners register, there are more obligations to ensure full compliance when compared to registering as a sole proprietor. For instance, companies must indicate the total amount of starting capital, which is then used to determine the company’s incorporation fees. Fixed costs associated with incorporation include a 20,000 UGX name reservation and 40,000 UGX to submit two forms. Variable costs include the registration fee – totaling 1% of share capital – and the stamp duty – which has a cost of 0.5% of share capital, as well as a 135,000 UGX fixed fee. Once the incorporation fees are paid, a certificate of incorporation is issued as part of the initial filing process. At this point, companies must submit forms listing the names of their directors and secretary and their business location and provide a memorandum and article of associations outlining the company’s interests. After the registration is finalized and a certificate of incorporation is issued, the company goes into business.

For a company limited with shares, annual returns must be submitted every year to declare the status of operations along with a 50,000 UGX fee (30,000 UGX for companies limited by guarantee). Any changes to the company’s structure or directors must be declared on the form to keep the business registration up to date.

There are enormous benefits of formalizing businesses ranging from: 

  1. Enabling investors to invest in your business through official channels
  2. Supporting your participation in the bidding process for the provision of goods and services
  3. Better access to financial services (i.e., bank loans that are essential for business expansion)
  4. Enabling the company to enter into business partnerships and joint ventures more easily or to carry out mergers and takeovers
  5. Supporting business reputation, which leads to broader clientele and greater opportunities

URSB’s services don’t end at business registration – they also provide services for businesses in need of support. On the occasion that a business enters an insolvency and receivership function – which happens when a company is unable to meet its financial obligations and potentially enters a court-mandated process allowing creditors to recover funds from a business while allowing them to avoid bankruptcy.  The URSB provides services to help businesses strengthen their operations and attempt to revive the company. Suppose a company is unable to recover from its financial woes. In that case, the URSB also provides statutory procedures to shut down the business and the necessary steps to wind up its operations.

When asked why some businesses shy away from formal compliance, Provia suggested that misinformation stops people from registering. People are often confused about the costs, processes, or obligations required to fulfil standard compliance requirements. Some may think that it takes a long time, but it takes just 2 to 3 days for a certificate to be issued once all documents are submitted. Provia highlighted that consulting with business professionals such as business lawyers can help clarify any misconceptions while helping business owners build and develop their operations. More importantly, business owners can query the URSB directly by either a toll-free phone number (0 800 100 006), the official website (www.ursb.go.ug), or through the official WhatsApp number (0712 448448).


Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited and ConsumerCentriX to Launch Compassionate Leadership Series on 4th November 2021

Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited and ConsumerCentriX to Launch Compassionate Leadership Series on 4th November 2021

In partnership with ConsumerCentriX, Stanbic Bank is pleased to have the opportunity to introduce the Compassionate Leadership Public Engagement Series.

The Series will consist of three webinars featuring compassionate leaders and technical persons in our community, that will help us understand how they have effectively led their organizations and provide practical tools in overcoming the challenges brought by the pandemic.

The inaugural conversation, Leading with Heart – “adapting to a new normal in a tough business environment”, will be launched on 4th November 2021 at 2 pm and will be moderated by Maurice Mugisha, with Anne Juuko, Stanbic Bank CE, Dr Peter Kimbowa, Chairman Board of Directors NSSF, Thadeus Musoke Nagenda, Ag. Chairman KACITA, and Isaac Nsereko, Managing Director RI Distributors as panellists.

Don’t miss the opportunity to participate!

To register for the webinar, visit: Webinar Registration


Stanbic Business Incubator Limited - Master Class on Health, Safety & Environment training open for businesses in the oil and gas sector

Stanbic Business Incubator Limited – Master Class on Health, Safety & Environment training open for businesses in the oil and gas sector

 

HSE (Health, Safety and Environment) is a set of processes and procedures identifying potential hazards to a certain environment, developing best practices to reduce or remove those hazards, and then training employees for accident prevention, accident response, etc.

The Master Class will provide participants with knowledge on how to evaluate, manage and minimize risks related to HSE. Entrepreneurs will learn ways of protecting their employees from injuries and property from damages.

Compliance with HSE measures opens opportunities within the oil and gas sector. The training is open to entrepreneurs and practitioners in the oil and gas sector and those intending to join the industry.

  

Date: 05th November 2021

Time: 10:00am to 12.30 pm EAT

Trainers

  1. Jordan Tumwesigye, Director Glauben Industries
  2. Serge Wamba Fosso, Founder and CEO PRODEOS

 

You can join the Zoom Master Class using: 

Meeting ID:   878 0631 3693

Passcode:       974074

For details contact Stanbic Business Incubator on: 

Phone: 0312226700

Email: incubator@stanbic.com

The Stanbic Business Incubator Limited (SBIL) is a private company duly incorporated under the Laws of the Republic of Uganda. The Incubator started in 2018 as an initiative of Stanbic Bank to support and nurture SMEs to prepare for and harness business and growth opportunities.


How to network your way to building a robust business

If you want to build a robust business, it is important to get out there, make connections, and network with others. Business networking involves connecting with potential customers and other individuals who might refer business to you. It also means making contact with people who can provide key information that can help you grow your business and is based on creating trusting relationships with other businesspeople.

Networking helps you promote your business and can lead to new opportunities, both very important as business owners seek to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic. Of course, with the disruptions caused by the pandemic, which have meant fewer chances to meet others in person, there has been a shift to networking virtually, which can actually offer you more opportunities to build connections across borders.

Below are some key reasons why networking is important for your small business and tips on how to network well to achieve your business goals.

 

  1. Networking is a great way to acquire new business leads. Leveraging the contacts you make when you meet people can open doors for business opportunities. Always communicate professionally when you follow up on leads, be sensitive to timing (for example, send that email when you promised to), and use common courtesy when following up.

 

  1. Networking can help you to identify business best practices. Learning from what others do is a valuable strategy for all businesses. For example, suppose you own a wholesale store and belong to an association. Ask around to find programs that other members use for stock management or other critical operational tasks that you can bring back to your own business.

 

  1. Regular networking will help you build confidence. It will help you become more familiar with talking to people you don’t know over time, enhancing your communications skills and enabling you to make lasting connections that can bring both positive professional and personal results.

 

  1. Networking is a great way to make relevant connections. It will enable you to meet and engage with highly influential people you wouldn’t otherwise be able to talk to or find easily. You can call on these new connections for assistance when you need them. So be sure to ask the right questions to find out if the person you are networking with knows who you want to know.

Don’t wait until you have run out of opportunities to start networking. Be sure to start making these connections to expand the number of opportunities that come your way!


Are you a social business with a solution for sustainable food systems looking to scale up? Apply for the Grow Up Social Incubator by November 21!

Yunus Environment Hub, a global social business network focused on creating solutions for the environmental crisis, is launching its 2022 cohort of the GrowUp Incubator for social businesses focusing on sustainable food systems in East Africa. The GrowUp Incubator aims to support and grow the skills of early-stage entrepreneurs who can create sustainable environmental and social impact. The cohort will support social business entrepreneurs in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Burundi. The program provides critical support to social business entrepreneurs in a post-revenue stage.

Why should you join the Grow Up Social Incubator?

Successful applicants will receive access to the following benefits through the 6-month program:

  • Bi-weekly tailored mentorship
  • Interactive capacity-building bootcamp and training
  • Networking with local partners
  • Peer-to-peer support to share challenges and discover solutions

Who is eligible to apply?

To be eligible, your business must:

  • Be located in one of the above-mentioned target countries in East Africa
  • Solve a challenge within one or more thematic areas related to food systems
  • Be beyond the experimentation stage
  • Have your product/service on the market for 6 months to 3 years
  • Be legally registered or plan on doing it during the incubation program
  • Be led by a person or by the community (i.e., through a cooperative model)
  • Be able to demonstrate substantial environmental and social impact
  • Be in pre-seed investment but the post-revenue stage
  • Have accumulated sales to date of approximately UGX 35 million – UGX 89 million
  • Have 2-3 people from the team who will participate in the program
  • Have regular access to stable internet to participate in mentoring sessions and cohort events

How to apply 

Social businesses that are eligible can apply by completing the application form here.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor for the cohort, please find the Terms of Reference and apply here.

Application Deadline: 21 November 2021


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