Making Your Business Investment-Ready

Many small businesses go through a point of ‘reflection,’ where business owners find themselves thinking about scale and growth. With these objectives in mind, they often go through a similar process, first identifying a product or service that they can scale, exploring a new or untapped market to market to, and, in some cases, becoming more diligent about compliance and tax obligations. While these are all good initiatives, they may not be adequate to prepare these businesses for the next level of growth – attracting investment to help the business reach growth targets.

Many business owners struggle with this next step – finding an investor to provide that extra financial muscle, a capital injection that will take them to the next level. So, what does it take to be “investment ready” as a business?

To help with this unique challenge, this month’s COVID-19 Business Info Hub theme guides micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) on making their business investment-ready. Readers will learn a number of important lessons about business investment, including:

  • Understanding the different kinds of business investment ‘vehicles’
  • Identifying investment opportunities that work for your business
  • Recognizing the non-financial investments that may help businesses grow
  • What it takes for a business to become ‘investment-ready’

Through lessons from industry experts and interviews with experienced practitioners, business owners will learn what they need to do to put themselves in the right position to attract investment capital, understand the opportunities (or risks) they may face, and make their businesses as attractive to potential investors as possible. Similarly, readers will hear from MSMEs that have successfully attracted funding so they may learn from first-hand experience.

If you are looking for effective ways to attract investment funding and ultimately grow your business, keep following the COVID-19 Business Info Hub this month for more insights and relevant resources on making your business investment-ready!

Apply for the Youth Green Accelerator Challenge before 12 August 2022

Youth Green Accelerator Challenge

Are youth-led organization, network, or coalition with an environmentally friendly solution? Apply for the Youth Green Accelerator Challenge before 12 August 2022

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and the International Labour Organization (ILO) invite youth-led organizations, networks or coalitions to the Youth Green Accelerator Challenge. Interested participants should propose new and innovative ideas and solutions to support a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies. Applicants should be youth aged 18 to 35 years old with contractual and registered capacity in IsDB-ILO common member states, which includes Uganda.

The Youth Green Accelerator Challenge seeks solutions that contribute to one or more of the following:

  • Upskilling or reskilling youth for their effective participation in the green policy-making process
  • Ensuring peer-to-peer learning on just transitions and strengthening youth coalitions on the subject
  • Creating or improving training programmes to equip youth with the technical and soft skills required for the green transition in a given sector / for a given occupation
  • Mainstreaming climate change into existing Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET)  and education curricula and programmes for youth
  • improving access to opportunities for green skills acquisition and recognition for marginalized youth
  • Supporting green skills trainers and training providers in becoming agents of a just transition for youth
  • Translating employment creation, entrepreneurship, or business ideas into solutions that accelerate upskilling or reskilling of youth

Successful participants in the Challenge will benefit from the following;

  • Financial support: The top three ideas will be awarded USD 50 000, USD 30 000, and USD 20 000, respectively, to implement the proposed solution.
  • Technical support through an online Innovation Lab: Through boot camps and remote mentoring, the winning proposals will receive technical support to turn, refine, develop, and pilot their ideas. The duration of the lab is between three and six months, depending on the stage of development of the solution.
  • Global visibility: The winning proposals will receive support to raise awareness of their ideas and solutions, including an invitation to attend COP 27, where they will present their projects, press articles in the media, and videos.
  • Access to a network of skills innovators: The winners and shortlisted entries will join the ILO Skills Innovation Network. They will be updated on the latest advances in innovation and skills development and get access to tools, resources, and knowledge-sharing events that they can use to build new ideas and solutions

To apply for the Challenge, visit: Youth Green Challenge Applications

Hi-Innovator initiative

Are you a start-up business interested in scaling your business? Apply for the Hi-Innovator initiative

The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) invites applicants for the Hi-Innovator initiative. The initiative was established to identify and support Uganda’s small and growing businesses with solid potential for impact, sustainability, and scale. Participants in the initiative will gain access to free professional and technical assistance, funding, and exposure to investors to scale their businesses.

Interested applicants must fulfill the following criteria to qualify:

  • Applicants must be Ugandan nationals or non-Ugandans currently living and working in Uganda with up-to-date working permits
  • Business must be fully registered with Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), and National Social Security Fund (NSSF)
  • Applications must be submitted through the Hi-Innovator website and idea management system
  • Business should have two founding team members above 18 years of age
  • Business should at least have launched a product or service and received customer feedback with some revenue (generating at least UGX 20 million within two years)
  • Business should have been legally operational for the last two years and should not have raised UGX 1 billion in either grant, convertible grants, venture capital, or private equity at the time of application
  • Have a founder ready to commit to at least 90% of the scheduled learning labs and mentorship sessions
  • All team members must be proficient in written and spoken English

To apply for this initiative, visit: Hi-Innovator Application

Future to Work

Are you an impact-driven company with a focus on solving unemployment? Apply for the Future to Work program before 29 April 2022

Village Capital, an impact investment company in partnership with Moody’s Foundation, invites startups across Sub-Saharan Africa to apply for the Future to Work 2022 program. Future to Work supports impact-focused startups leveraging highly sensitive data to improve quality and access to digital, financial, and healthcare services. Venture Capital aims to help entrepreneurs with investment readiness training through the program.

Successful applicants will benefit from the following during the program:

  • Networking with fellow impact-driven founders in their cohort
  • Mentorship from investors
  • Interactive, tailored training sessions to support startup companies identify early milestones and preparing them for the next round of capital
  • Coaching from an investment analyst on building a financial model, identifying unit economics, and using financial metrics
  • Feature on Village Capital’s program website and other collateral

Interested applicants must have ventures addressing unemployment through the following:

  • Technical, professional, upskilling, or reskilling programs
  • Testing and credentialing programs
  • New approaches to apprenticeship or employment matching, such as gig, job matching, and distributed manufacturing platforms
  • Financial health for informal workers and/or
  • Edtech for post-secondary and tertiary institutions

To apply for this program, visit: Future to Work Applications

Women Agripreneur

Are you an innovative women agripreneur? Apply for the AGRA VALUE4HER Women Agripreneur of the Year Awards before 31 May 2022

AGRA, a farmer-centered, African-led, and partnerships-driven institution that catalyzes inclusive agricultural transformation in Africa, invites applicants for the VALUE4HER Women Agripreneur of the Year Awards (WAYA 2022). The award recognizes African women agripreneurs who have excelled in the agricultural value chain and have demonstrated exceptional innovation that addresses food security, climate resilience, and women and youth empowerment.

The WAYA awards recognize established and emerging women agripreneur in three categories: young female entrepreneur (rising star), outstanding value-adding enterprise, and female agriculture technology innovator. Winners of each category will receive a cash prize of USD 20,000.

Women agripreneurs interested in participating must fulfill the following criteria to apply:

  • Be operating in agriculture/agribusiness value chains
  • Have an innovative product/service
  • Be a national from one of the 54 African countries
  • Have a solid digital footprint and be a VALUE4HER member
  • Be a remarkable community leader actively amplifying the voice of women.

To apply for the WAYA awards, visit: WAYA Application


Are you an entrepreneur in the Agri-food sector interested in scaling up your business? Apply for the GoGettaz Competition by 6 June 2022

Generation Africa, a partnership initiative aimed at strengthening the ecosystem for young entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector, invites applicants for the GoGetttaz Agripreneur Competition. This year’s edition will focus on supporting entrepreneurs whose ventures battle climate change, hunger, and poverty. Interested applicants must join theGoGettaz community before applying. Through the GoGettaz community, they will gain access to education, mentorship, and investment networks to help them launch, grow and scale their agri-food ventures. Additionally, two successful participants (one female and one male) will win USD 50,000 as a prize for the most innovative and scalable business ventures.

Interested entrepreneurs must fulfill the following criteria to apply:

  • Be aged 35 years or younger on the date of submission and be legally recognized as an adult in the country of their nationality
  • Have nationality (with an official ID) from an African Union member country
  • Be a founder/co-founder of the venture he/she represents in the Competition and play an active role in its leadership and operations
  • Have no criminal record related to corruption, tax evasion, financial impropriety, felony, or other offense and be willing to offer a signed declaration to that effect, if requested

Additionally, the business venture must also fulfill the following criteria to be considered for the Competition:

  • Be legally registered in a country that is a member of the African Union or will have commenced with the registration of such a legal entity before 1 July 2022
  • Be headquartered in a country that is a member of the African Union
  • Be designed to be financially sustainable, either as a for-profit business or a non-profit generating some revenue and aiming not to be dependent on donor funding
  • Have a role to play in the agri-food sector and/or supports the development of the agri-food sector through an innovation or process improvement
  • The agri-food sector may be defined as businesses including:
  • Agri-food research & development
  • Primary food production (farming)
  • Crop nutrition
  • Irrigation
  • Mechanization, automation, or robotics, including drones
  • Crop protection
  • Hydroponics or urban farming
  • Transport, distribution, storage, or logistics
  • Food processing
  • Packaging or marketing
  • Food retail or service
  • Waste management or recycling
  • Digital or technology solutions/services to the agri-food sector
  • Innovative finance solutions/services to the agri-food sector
  • Renewable energy or environmental solutions/services to the agri-food sector

To apply for this Competition, visit: GoGettaz Competition Application

African female entrepreneurs

Are you an African female entrepreneur interested in preparing your business for investment? Apply for the ShEquity Business Accelerator program by 6 May 2022

ShEquity, an investment catalyst for African female entrepreneurs, invites applicants for ShEquity Business Accelerator program (SHEBA). The 16-week program focuses on preparing female-led and -owned businesses for investment with the goal of increasing their chances of accessing seed funding. The program is also designed to enhance leadership and soft skills needed to engage with key partners/customers and to inspire women entrepreneurs to revamp and test their marketing strategies.

Through the program, participants will be equipped with the skillset to develop new business models and mindsets for innovation while leveraging existing tools that will help them maintain a competitive edge. The program supports African female entrepreneurs in agribusiness (agritech, production, processing wholesale & retailing, any other agribusiness value chain aspects), healthcare, tech-enabled solutions (fintech, clean tech, etc.), renewable energies, mobility and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs).

To apply for this program, visit: SHEBA Application

young innovators

Are you a young tech innovator interested in scaling up your solution? Apply for the Africa Impact Challenge before 1 October 2022

Africa Impact Initiative, a Canada-based organization committed to supporting young innovators, invites applicants for their Africa Impact Challenge. The goal of the Challenge is to enable young tech innovators from Africa to build market-creating innovations that tackle their country’s challenges with technology.

Successful participants will be offered the capital of up to UGX 70,212,565, resources, and a paid incubation period at the University of Toronto to build viable solutions. Interested participants should have comprehensive tech-enabled solutions that address an identified problem/challenge in their respective countries. Preference will be given to scalable, innovative business models with solutions that target non-consumption by increasing adoption, accessibility, or affordability.

Interested participants must fulfill the following to apply

  • Be African under 39 years of age living in the countries of the given year’s Challenge
  • Have a desire to pursue impact-focused entrepreneurship as a means of livelihood
  • Have a desire to solve critical problems with technology
  • Have full-time commitment from the team building the ventures
  • Stream 1: Ventures based in Rwanda from any sector
  • Stream 2: Ventures based across Africa that enable positive health outcomes

To apply for this Challenge, visit: Submit Application

Microsoft for Startups

Are you a tech startup interested in scaling up your business? Apply for the Microsoft for Startups challenge before 23 May 2022

Microsoft for Startups, a global program supported by a team of startup veterans and industry experts, invites applicants for the Microsoft for Startups Challenge. Microsoft for Startups aims to provide a customized set of offerings and resources to support tech startups grow from ideation to scale.

Through the challenge, participants will gain:

  • Opportunity to unlock up to $150,000 in free Azure credits (a perk offered by Microsoft to save money on your cloud bill)
  • Access to robust development and productivity tools, including GitHub and Microsoft 365
  • Mentorship guidance from business and technical experts
  • Startup-friendly offers from Microsoft partners
  • Access to VivaTech onsite event (annual networking event for tech entrepreneurs)

Interested applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Have a startup engaged in developing a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of your current or intended business – this software must be owned, not licensed
  • Have a startup that has not already received more than a total of $10,000 in free Azure
  • Have headquarters residing in the countries covered by our Azure global infrastructure (including…[insert ones relevant to us in Africa])
  • Have a startup that has not gone through a Series D or later funding round
  • Have a for-profit business that is not an educational institution, government entity, personal blog, dev shop, consultancy, agency, bitcoin or crypto mining company

To apply for the Microsoft for Startups Challenge, create an account at Challenge Signup


Are you looking for funding for your climate or clean energy project or to scale up your existing business? Apply for the PFAN’s climate and clean energy program before 1 May 2022

The Private Financing Advisory Network, a global network of climate and clean energy financing experts, invites applicants to the climate and clean energy program. PFAN provides free business coaching and investor matchmaking to promising climate and clean energy entrepreneurs globally.

Through the program, selected participants undergo intensive one-on-one coaching to perfect their business plans, financial structures, and investment pitches. Additionally, successful participants may be invited to present their projects at the PFAN and partner events or receive tailored investment facilitation services.

Interested applicants must fulfil the following criteria to apply:

  • Be from low and middle-income countries, click here for a complete list
  • Provide climate change adaptation benefits
  • Offer or use clean energy technologies, products or services that fall within PFAN’s areas of work

To apply, visit: Climate and Clean Energy project Applications