The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in partnership with Mastercard Foundation has launched an all out women oriented seed funding initiative.
Mr. Patrick Ayota the deputy Managing Director for NSSF oversaw this launch on Wednesday November 23th, during the Uganda Innovation Week 2022 at Mestil Hotel Nsambya.
The three-day event hosted by Startup Uganda was tailored around the theme; “Uganda’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem, Unlocking the Missing Links”.
It attracted a vast number of investors, entrepreneurs, government officials, high-end personnel from the academia and a sizeable number of development partners in Uganda’s innovation space.
“Its a partnership. Some of the money comes from NSSF, some comes from Mastercard Foundation, each year we have two million dollars, so its one million dollar each year for the program,” noted Mr. Ayota.
“For the female cohort we expect 7.6 billion shillings that we will put here,” he added.
Women run businesses which will benefit from this initiative must have two full staff members, for purposes of promoting concertedness, which reduces risks of failure, owing to the fact that some of the women led entities are run by single founders.
Besides, businesses that are applying for the third cohort must make sure that they are at least 60% owned by women, or 70% of the management team is women.
The NSSF Hi-Innovator seed funding initiative was launched in May 2021 by NSSF and Mastercard Foundation to create an ecosystem in which small but growing indigenous businesses are aided to translate into scalable and sustainable enterprises.
In collaboration with Mastercard Foundation, NSSF has since focused on intervening at the piloting stage of business development, where an entity is vulnerable and highly susceptible to cut-throat challenges that may force it to crumble.
Since its inception in 2021, the Hi-Innovator business intervention strategy has groomed a vast number of young start-ups in Uganda, totaling to 120,000.
The previous cohorts have been equally apportioned to both male and female young entrepreneurs, but this time around, the third one is purely tailored around women led ventures to stimulate the participation of the female gender in business.
The process of accessing this seed funding is very simple and has no strings attached, according to the information revealed by Richard Zulu, the chairperson for Startup Uganda and the leading implementing partner of the Hi-Innovator program at Outbox Uganda, as he was addressing the press on the sidelines of the event.
Young innovators seeking to benefit from this seed funding initiative must enroll into the Hi-Innovator Business Academy, an online self-directed platform that provides entrepreneurial training, including business management skills. The funding cuts across all businesses from all sectors.
“The reason we have the first step which is the business academy is to prepare you for the next step which is the accelerator, for instance; how do we help you from being informal to formal,” said Richard Zulu.
After the completion of the online course which takes three to four weeks, one can then apply for funding, on condition that their business has been in operation for the last two years.
“When you are done with the online academy, then you apply for funding. The criteria is very simple. Don’t come and say that i have an idea in the head. We want to see it walking”
Asides providing funding, NSSF in close collaboration with Mastercard Foundation go an extra mile of ensuring that these start-ups are given technical assistance and more training during their course of operation, in addition to linking them up with other possible funders in the innovation space.
“We do not leave you alone, we actually create a partnership with you and work with you we identify entrepreneurs, and deploy funding to them and help them grow their business through technical assistance and trainings”
Also important to note, business entities seeking to benefit from this initiative must supply evidence that they have been selling their products or services to customers in the last two years, provide proof of financial records to show that they have been making reasonable returns on investments.
The business must also not have raised more than one billion Uganda shillings from other sources of funding like banks, investors and other financial institutions in the last one year, and also willing to offer 6% of its shares to NSSF in the future.
Every young start-up that is selected as winner after the pitching process automatically bags a sum of USD. 20,000.
The business must also be willing to with NSSF, that’s just 6% NSSF takes an option, that in the future as your business is growing, NSSF takes a stake in your business.
Must be in operational for the last two years employ two permanent workers, A business is a very hard thing. Business requires perseverance, patience and what we have found out is that most of us as Ugandans, we like doing things by ourselves, so you want to do it alone. We say that’s dangerous. Suppose you get sick, who will run that business? Suppose that day you are too down, who will lift you up? That’s why we encourage people to be partners because two heads are better than one.
Clear criteria/on how to sign up
CEO of Outbox, a leading implementing partner of the NSSF high innovator initiative.
Women accelerator. Its a simple process, you go online and visit Hi-innovator business academy, the first criteria is every business owner should endeavor to complete the online course. It will roughly take between two to four weeks to complete. After the course, you try to see whether you can meet the rest of the criteria
Also important to note any venture to qualify for this seed funding must also be registered with Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) , Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and NSSF, if a business is not registered you are not registered, it is facilitated to do so during the online business academy.
Registration you can do it during that initial process to demonstrate some compliance to demonstrate some ability and intention to grow. Between now and 31st January, the entrepreneurs have to ensure that that they prepare for those opportunities.
The high innovator initiative is targeting to support 92400 women in work, by 2025 meaning new improved and sustained jobs, for 2023, we want to support up to 100 businesses.
By June, we want to identify 100 business that are women led, women managed to propel us towards that goal.
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