Prof. Juma Wasswa Balunywa the Principal of Makerere University Business School (MUBS) has said although Uganda is one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world, a good number of Ugandans are still poor because most of the time, the government wants to give funding to huge projects which at times have other forms of access to money.
According to Balunywa, the government must make access to funding easy for young innovators if it wants to overcome the unemployment problem in the country.
“We don’t need to finance huge car projects. We have many innovators who can create jobs for millions of Uganda, but I must tell you, there are too many regulations and policies in this country. You cannot do anything in this country as a businessman,” he told the media during the launch of Kampala Innovation week meeting.
Unfortunately, he said, there are lots of government programmes to do this, but to his feeling, they are not right, therefore the government should fund these innovations at all levels.
Balunywa added that although the government has put funds and infrastructures for the private sector, they have put up so many restricting regulations to access such incentives.
“The government is giving with one hand while taking away with another. It is easy to start a business but the facilitating conditions and the regulations are too many so there is a need to ease regulations for businesses to expand and take advantage of the digital era.”
Richard Mubiru, the Manager, Enterprise Growth Development, Private Sector Development unit at the Ministry of Finance, stated that the funds are available, but at times some start-ups don’t have the required qualities.
“We appreciate the fact that access to finance is a challenge, however there are mechanisms that the government has put up to support start-ups such as innovations funds in the Central Bank. Very soon, the SMD recovery funds will be rolled out and UDC is already moving on looking for projects to support. Therefore, we are working towards the lasting solution.”
Bart Cornille, the Digital for Development Expert from Enabel also noted that for innovations to thrive in the country, funding must be accessible to upcoming businesses.
“Indeed it is very shocking to see that Uganda in 2015 was the number one most entrepreneurial country in the world and it is still not moving forward. I think funding is one of the problems, plus tough policies yet these are the two most important aspects that determine the growth of innovation in any country.”
He said the government needs to create favorable ways to facilitate accessibility to funds by start-ups.
Meanwhile, this year’s edition of Kampala Innovations Week was hosted under the theme of “Harnessing the power of innovation and entrepreneurship for Uganda’s digital transformation, job creation and economic sustainability”
Georgette Ochieng Ndabukiye the Co-founder of Wazi Vision also added that one of the strong factors obstructing the development of start-ups in Uganda are unbearable policies by the government.
“A few years ago, without mentioning the government agency, we reached out to an agency because we were in manufacturing, we thought this was a perfect agency to support us, but they did not give us any way forward,” she said.
Ndabukiye also noted that funding is a great vessel if Uganda is to embrace digital transformation.
“We need access to funding from our government and they must believe in us. For example, governments that have believed in us are from Europe, although we are trying to do something good for our country, it is becoming so difficult to get funding from it,” she stated.
She said there are people who have amazing ideas, but don’t have access to funding and funds might be there, but accessing it is hard because they are a nobody.