Could this be a Bigger Problem than Capital, for Young Ugandan Entrepreneurs?

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I am in Ibanda district, for now, 4 days, and likely to be here for the coming 2 weeks. Apart from the fact that you suffer from slow internet speed (you need to balance between affordability and speed), everything else is going fine.
 
We are implementing a program called Project 500k and one of the opportunities I have been presented with is interacting with the youths down here. Of course not knowing how to speak Runyankore makes it a little bit difficult to put my point across as well as pick theirs. Even the Luganda I speak, just realized, is filled with English slangs – which makes it a little hard for them to pick my point sometimes.
 
But, as we have been engaging, most of them demanded that instead of taking them through the mindset change sessions, why not just hand them capital and they go and do their own thing.
 
This reminded me of the one thing that I hear in all Kampala startup corridors – capital, capital, capital! They’re also singing the same song, in just a different language – calling it “Entandikwa”!!
 
Yet, my quick interaction with these young men indicated that they needed something more than just money. Actually, one of them comes from a family that got a cow from NAADS and it “died” (you know what I mean).
 
Another one told me that he grows tomatoes but he has no market for his products. When I asked all the 15 people who were in the camp session if any of them had lunch without tomatoes in their sauce, none said yes. Matter of fact, all had bought the tomatoes. None of them was growing tomatoes. So, I asked Steven if he has ever tried going to the homes of these people asking them to buy his tomatoes, he said “No”.
 
We have been reduced to concluding there’s no capital to do such and such, but we never ask ourselves if capital is the biggest problem we’re facing.
 
I am not suggesting that capital isn’t a big problem for youths, it is. But, is it the biggest? How about mentorship? How about basic skills in resiliency, sales, planning and so much more.
 
When I was interviewing the CEO of GrowthAfrica – Growth Frontiers, he told me that their company doesn’t admit young entrepreneurs to their accelerator programs (by young he meant University graduates or those that don’t finish school and decide to launch a business – especially those in hubs).
 
To him, these people haven’t received any beating in life yet. They tend to live in (i hate using this word) a bubble. Anything that is likely to make them think out of their place of comfort, they shun it. To him, he is looking for people that have at least had a job in the sector they’re starting up in. Because they have more than just passion to bring to the table. Not these cry babies.
 
If you asked young entrepreneurs who have won grants or hackathons before (handed cash) where it all went, they’ll give you some vague explanation. To make matters worse, you’ll find them applying for more!
 
Secondly, if those very entrepreneurs that have no capital can afford a beer, they have no moral right to sing the no capital anthem. I am not saying they shouldn’t have a life as entrepreneurs, but if they choose not to look at the little they currently have as capital, then they should forget about the much more from investors.
 
If you can’t tell someone why you are holding an iPhone X yet have failed to purchase a crucial software of $50 or service for your startup, then you have no moral right to sing the no capital anthem. All you can say is that there’s lack of effort or funds to tackle your thinking.
 
Just like we all were told that AIDS is a killer disease and it became an anthem, we have been told that lack of Capital is the reason we are not having startups that are self-sustaining. It has, in the end, become a national anthem.
 
Even a person who has no single plan drafted on paper, a person who hasn’t even come up with an MVP will tell you capital is their issue and are looking for an investor.
 
Is Capital the biggest problem to startups in Uganda or the thinking of the startup founders? #Malinz

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