In an ambitious effort to bolster the nation’s entrepreneurial landscape, Uganda is gearing up to unveil its National Start-Up Policy in 2024. Spearheaded by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), with crucial support from the Mastercard Foundation and coordination by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Cooperatives, this policy aims to transform the startup ecosystem in the country.
The primary goal of the National Start-Up Policy is to make Ugandan start-ups not only sustainable and profitable but also attractive to potential investors.
By mitigating existing constraints, stakeholders envision a vibrant ecosystem that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. These constraints include issues like low innovation, stagnated growth, low scalability, and unfair competition that have hindered the progress of local businesses.
The policy seeks to govern interactions between the government, incubators, start-ups, and investors. Its core focus is on creating a level playing field, shielding Ugandan entrepreneurs from unfair competition often faced when multinational corporations enter the market.
The policy will not only identify the needs of local start-ups but also provide guidelines on obtaining necessary support.
Lessons from successful start-up policies elsewhere
During a recent technical team round-table meeting in Kampala, Apollo Muyanja Mbazzira, the PSFU lead firm structure (LFS) project director, drew inspiration from successful start-up policies in places like Tunisia and Cairo.
He expressed the desire to position Uganda as a benchmark for start-ups regionally and continentally, emphasizing the need to welcome businesses in a manner similar to the hospitality extended to refugees, of which Uganda is home to over 5 million.
Arnold Byaruhanga, a representative of the Mastercard Foundation, stressed the collaborative nature of this private sector initiative. He urged all stakeholders to take ownership of the policy, viewing it as a critical tool to safeguard the interests of local businesses.
Youth MP’s legislative push
In a related development, Boniface Okot, the Youth MP for Northern Uganda, presented a Start-Up Act as a private bill in the Uganda Parliament a few months ago. This act, seen as a progressive legislative intervention, aims to provide incentives for young people to actively participate in the socio-economic transformation of the nation.