According to Ugandan entrepreneurs, lack of capital is a big hindrance to starting up. Despite all this, there are a couple that are securing funding to push their ventures ahead.
One of the sources they have continued to rely on is grants. Something that has received criticism for breeding grantpreneurs. A set associated with laziness.
Yet, that is still subjective. Plus, grants fund an area of entrepreneurship that is very risky for early investors. If not unattractive. Some of the organizations at the forefront of giving out grants are USAID and USADF.
The United States African Development Foundation (USADF) is a U.S. Government agency. Established by Congress, the agency supports African-owned enterprises. Especially those which improve lives in poor and vulnerable communities in Africa.
The agency offers seed capital and local technical support in form of grants. These go to early-stage agriculture, energy and youth-led enterprises in Africa.
According to the agency's official website, it gives grants ranging from $50,000 to $250,000. Yet, among those on this list, none got $50,000 plus. In fact, the highest is $25,000. This implies that even if you need an amount below $50,000, you can apply.
We bring you a list of 11 young Ugandan entrepreneurs that have received a total of $140,000 from USADF in 2017 so far. In case you're considering applying for the same, you can consult them on how to approach the process.
Agribusiness leads the list with four ventures followed by Health with two. The rest of the sectors each has one venture.
1. Francis Xavier Asiimwe
Francis is a founder at Kaaro Health Finance. 2017 has been a good year for Francis and his venture - Kaaro Health. The Ibanda-based venture got selected by Berlin-based accelerator F-LANE for its acceleration programme in Berlin.
"Kaaro Health Finance Limited (KHF) product solutions are designed to eliminate or mitigate both energy and finance access issues by providing tailor-made, flexible lease-to-own medical and renewable energy equipment financing to private healthcare entrepreneurs who are already operating or intending to expand into underserved rural areas," reads the summary of the startup.
Rhodah is the founder of Mr. Gift. "a social enterprise focused on improving access for smallholder flower farmers to local markets by improving the supply chain" according to the summary from USADF. Rhodah secured $10,000 to help her grow her venture.
Being a YALI fellow, Luyinda is not new to benefitting from US Agency opportunities. He was also among the Tony Elumule 2017 fellows. A founder of Village Chicken, he secured himself $10,000 from USADF to grow the enterprise.
"A social enterprise focused on empowering rural women in Kavule, Luwero district to start and run sustainable and profitable poultry ventures and to supply nutritious chicken meat and eggs to the community," reads the summary of the venture.
Hashim is the founder of SolaPipo which secured him $10,000 from USADF. SolaPipo, according to the USADF summary, "seeks to match consumers’ energy needs with available, suitable energy solutions through its SolarPipo app".
Jonathan is the founder of agribusiness enterprise called AgroStretch. He secured himself $10,000 to grow the venture.
"AgroStretch Limited develops sustainable, efficient and affordable products and service for smallholder farmers to increase their profitability. It has developed a Fresh Tomato Bank to process tomatoes into a puree and enable tomato farmers to minimize their post-harvest losses and obtain a fair and steady price for their produce," reads the summary from USADF.
He is the founder of Angels Initiative, one of Uganda's angel investment networks. George received $25,000 from USADF to finance other entrepreneurs that had problems accessing capital to launch their ventures.
"In Uganda, it is difficult to access capital to start a venture or expand an existing small business. George invests in people, so they can invest in small and growing businesses in East Africa. He matches opportunities and provides a credit rating system to consumers to stimulate future investing," reads the summary of George's venture from USADF.
In a conversation with George a few weeks ago, when we asked him whether he was still running Angels Initiative, he replied; "Not Much". Though he insisted that it's still active.
Kizimba Social Enterprise is the enterprise that secured Tonny $10,000 this year. It is a social enterprise focused on goat breeding and rearing and providing necessary skills training in modern farming to youth farmers.
Denis is the founder of Slopes of Mount Elgon Honey. A project to provide gainful employment to disabled persons as beekeepers, while at the same time reversing the worrisome decline in the bee population and honey production in Uganda. Denis secured $10,000.
Charles founded Life Tomorrow which is social enterprise focused on proper waste management, specifically to improve the quality of life and environmental conditions in Mukono Municipality in Uganda. He, also, got $10,000 from the agency.
Fiona is the founder of Nyunya. Nyunya is a venture that produces a probiotic yogurt which offers health benefits to consumers with varying conditions, including diabetes and digestive disorders such as diarrhea caused by infections.
Brenda winds up the list, and this has definitely been the year for the Wazi Vision founder. Brenda received $25,000 to help her advance her venture.
"In Uganda, more than 10 percent of school children have undiagnosed vision problems, but could not afford prescription eyeglasses, even if they had their eyesight tested. Brenda is tackling these intertwined problems by providing a cost-effective, mobile diagnostic vision test, and turning recycled plastic into affordable eyewear for low-income students," reads the summary of Wazi Vision from USADF.
Judging from the list, in case you're considering applying, the majority are social enterprises. Others, that are not social, directly impact people at the bottom of the economic pyramid. Which implies, that you stand a higher chance to secure a grant if your venture focuses on the two.
Starting November 15, 2017, USADF will be receiving applications from agricultural cooperatives, small-scale producer groups, and ag-processors. You can see details here.