The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in partnership with Outbox and Makerere University Business School (MUBS) Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Center has launched an initiative dubbed “Hi-Innovator”. Hi-innovator seeks to give visibility to small and growing businesses to help them secure seed funding, receive technical assistance and build partnerships for their growth.
Under the Hi-Innovator initiative, NSSF and its partners will link potentially profitable and sustainable businesses that can drive positive social change and returns to investments with funding of up to Uganda Shillings 74 million (approximately USD 20,000).
Through this initiative, the Fund will also convene potential local and foreign stakeholders in Uganda that can invest in the potential of local entrepreneurs.
Increasingly, businesses seeking to grow are struggling to find the capital and technical assistance required which is financing amounts between Uganda Shillings 74 million and at-least 1 billion. This is because traditional financial vehicles are not willing to bet on them, and providing technical assistance is not profitable; as raised in the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Global Report of 2015, and the Uganda Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Report 2018.
Who can participate?
Hi-Innovator will support businesses addressing the Sustainable Development Goals, the National Development Plan and NSSF’s Strategic business objectives with a focus on education, agriculture, health, energy, tourism and financial services and ICTs.
The business should have been in operation for at least two years, are registered with Uganda Registry Services Bureau, have a functional product in the market and have raised not more than 1 Billion Uganda shillings (approximately USD 300,000) in blended capital i.e. grants, equity financing or venture capital.
NSSF is rolling out the Hi-Innovator in partnership with two start-up advisory partners namely Outbox and MUBS Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Center. These will lend their expertise in the sourcing of good quality startups, while collaborating with other innovation and incubation hubs in the country. They will also provide technical assistance to the startups in the initiative to enable them to address the gaps they face through capacity development, and linkages to other partners.
According to the NSSF Managing Director, Richard Byarugaba, the Fund is undertaking this initiative as a joint contribution together with other government institutions towards national development.
“At National Social Security Fund (NSSF), we believe that poverty alleviation, productive employment and economic development can be realised in Uganda today if all relevant stakeholders take keen interest in social development. As a Fund that’s in the business of securing the future, we believe Hi-Innovator will go a long way in helping Uganda achieve Vision 2040, a transformed Ugandan society from a peasant to a modern and prosperous country within 30 years”.
Hi-innovator seeks to support up-to 10 businesses in this initial roll-out.
“We applaud the initiative by NSSF to complement what already exists by tapping into what incubators and accelerators are already supporting. The desire to build a local angel investor network in Uganda is, definitely, a step in the right direction and complements the ecosystem. Through this partnership, we shall catalyse entrepreneurship in the country,” says Richard Zulu, Team Leader at Outbox.
“The International Finance Corporation (IFC) reports a financing gap of up to USD 930 billion faced by Small and Growing Businesses (SGBs) in low- and middle-income countries. Moreover, technical assistance has also been cited as one of the major obstacles to the success of SGBs in Uganda. We are excited to be part of the Hi-Innovator programme which will not only provide access to finance but also technical support to SGBs. As part of the Inaugural Startup Advisors, we look forward to using our expertise to the selected SGBs within the ecosystem”, says Diana Ntamu, Director MUBS EIIC.
The National Social Security Fund of Uganda (NSSF) is Uganda’s national retirement Fund that has, over the last 7 years, grown from a fund size of USD 800 million to the current USD 3.0 billion.
Founded in 2012, Outbox supports early stage technology entrepreneurs with shared office space, business incubation and technical training programs. Outbox leverages its partnerships with global software development companies, development partners, Government, Civil Society Organisations and leading innovation hubs to provide access to expertise, markets and funding opportunities to our entrepreneurs.
About Makerere University Business School Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Center
The MUBS Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Centre (MUBS EIIC) was established in 1998 as an outreach unit that links the School with other players in the entrepreneurial eco system. The Centre fosters entrepreneurship by nurturing innovations and startups. The MUBS EIIC focus areas include business incubation, training, research, dissemination of information and consultancy.
For further information on the programme, contact:
Richard Zulu, Team Lead
Outbox Uganda Limited
Diana Ntamu, Director
Makerere University Business School Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Center