291 enterprises across the country are to benefit from the first phase of the Enterprise Development Program that commenced Tuesday, courtesy of Uganda Development Bank and other organisations. 

The program’s focus is on training in management best practices, debt management, good governance, record keeping, and financial management among others, areas that are considered critical for Ugandan entrepreneurs.

The program is designed to prepare enterprises to become investor ready, with the ability to successfully market themselves to larger investors or to attract cheap and patient capital. 

Alan Joshua Mwesiga, the UDBL Director Strategy and Corporate Affairs, who represented Managing Director Patricia Ojangole, said the initiative will provide capacity-building training and offer technical support to develop and implement the required processes in the businesses, with the objective to have professionally run businesses that survive the test of time and are investor ready. 

This, according to him, means that the program does not stop at training the SMEs and giving them capital, but will continue monitoring the projects and offering technical and other advisory services to ensure sustainability.   

According to Ojangole, SMEs constitute 90 percent of the private sector and contribute 80 percent of all manufacturing output, providing 2.5 million jobs. 

However, only 30 percent of them survive beyond their third year of operations. 

The program is focusing on the main sectors that are in line with the objectives of the third National Development Plan priority areas of Agribusiness, Manufacturing, Tourism, ICT, Innovatives and Infrastructure. 

The training will be centered at Uganda Management Institute for the next nine months, but will also feature field studies, according to the implementers, who also include Makerere University Business School, MUBS. 

Dr Rose Namara, the Chief of Research and Innovation at UMI urged the entrepreneurs not to ignore the importance of the digital revolution in their operations, as this is now driving growth in all sectors. 

She, however, is sure that their intervention with the other partners will have an impact on the operations and sustainability of SMEs in the country, beyond the third year of existence.   

This training is based on the Bank’s wider knowledge of the business, the operating environment, and experience gained from funding, implementing, and monitoring such projects; while of relying on the decades-long experience and expertise of MUBS and UMI. 

Sarah Kyejjusa, the Director, Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation at MUBS, says the program was designed according the needs assessment that they did, so as to be as relevant as possible to the beneficiaries, adding that they will not abandon them after the training. 

Other partners and implementers are the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Uganda Revenue Authority, Uganda Investments Authority, National Social Security Fund and Uganda Women Entrepreneurs’ Association Limited. 

Babara Kasekende, Head of Business Advisory UDB said the 291 entrepreneurs were selected from different regions of the country, from more than 2,000 who initially applied to join the program. 

She said these exhibited specific needs in their operations, levels of enterprise development as well as other satisfied other requirements. 

“This program is aimed at increasing our footprint and impact on Ugandan businesses across the country through Business development services. 

Handholding entrepreneurs develops the knowledge and skills necessary to grow and sustain their businesses,” she noted. 

The incubator program will have a hybrid approach that will be implemented by UDB and Makerere Business School Entrepreneurship Innovation and Incubation Center (MUBS EIIC) for a period of 3 to 9 months. 

The program will offer training with a customized curriculum designed for Ugandan businesses. 

The curriculum was created based on the feedback and findings from the first cohort and has been improved to cater to the specific needs of the enterprises and the environment in which they operate.

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