Everything to know about Hive Colab's expansion to Mbarara district

Hive Colab is expanding its physical presence beyond Kampala. Barbara Birungi, a director at Hive Colab, confirmed this. The Kanjokya street located hub was the first tech hub in Uganda. Founded in 2010, this move will make it again the first hub to have a presence in more than one Ugandan district.


The hub has had a virtual incubation program in place. Where they have supported various innovators unable to access their services in Kampala. As Barbara pointed out, they're "already supporting 15 innovations through our virtual incubation." 


Yet, this move will ensure those ventures can also tap into the hub's other amenities. Barbara says, "they will be able to offer a wider range of services and support. This will ensure that they succeed, from ideation to market launch."


"Hive Colab has had a virtual incubation program for the last 3 years. We support innovators from around the country who cannot access our physical space. The services have been the same. The only difference is; we do not offer a co-working space with its amenities."


Mbarara is one of the leading towns in the country when it comes to innovation. At the concluded MTN Innovation Awards, some nominees were from the district. The group with a flying airplane prototype. (See also:


Another group is that of iDrain that were part of the Up Accelerate program by Outbox hub. (See all: Here’s What Up Accelerate Startups Learned and the Challenges they Faced)


"We have been studying the potential of innovation in Mbarara region. Many potential innovators are from the universities in the region. They have support while at university, but once they leave, it becomes very difficult. You also find that those who can't make it to Kampala will not build their innovations beyond the first year," Barbara added.

There are already stakeholders that have set up shop in the district. And, Hive Colab would like to work with them too.


"We want to closely collaborate with MUST and other universities in the region. To support innovation that will lead to social and economic development. We also hope to work with UCC, URSB and other concerned government agencies," Barbara said. 


But, the need to set up a facility that these entrepreneurs can call home is one of the reasons. Apart from CAMTech, there's no innovator dedicated-facility in the district. 


"They need a place that can nurture them - through training, technical and business support, hold them accountable and provide access to different stakeholders like investors, government and private sector to allow them to grow," Barbara Birungi pointed out.


The model of operation will be like the one in Kampala. It'll look at innovators on an individual basis. And the pricing will be done according to the capacity of the startup or individual. Though the hub, according to Baraba, will also run a freemium model. This will be "for a limited period of time as one goes through some of our programs."


"If one is a member of any branch, they will have access to all branches at no extra cost. A startup in Kampala that wishes to do business in Mbarara will have access to that hub and any support we will have gathered for those innovators".

Yet Hive Colab is making this expansion at a time when some are criticizing the hub model. They say it has failed to help build notable and sustainable African ventures. They are doubting what hubs are bringing to the table. Except for a fancy working area, secure and faster internet and events. The majority of the hubs, not only in Uganda, aren't self-sustaining. They are heavily subsidized by donations. 


Hive Colab is part of AfriLabs, a network of over 60 hubs across the African continent. It also partners with hubs including iHub, Mlab, and Nailab in Kenya, Bongo Hive in Zambia, 1776 in the US and Dubai, and OpenGov Hub in Washington DC. Until this new branch, TechBuzz - located on Najim Mall, in Ntinda - was still the newest hub in Uganda.


Hive Colab is looking to hire a manager for it's Mbarara Branch, you can apply here.

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