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Boosting business opportunities in Eastern Uganda

Soroti, Uganda – Matunda Hub which is bringing agribusiness incubation and networking closer to rural areas, celebrated its first Teso Entrepreneurship Forum on Saturday, 16th June 2018 with more than 150 participants at Soflyv Hotel on Moroto Road in Soroti.

The forum was organized by Matunda Hub, a young social enterprise based in Soroti with a mission to support rural and urban youth in developing successful agribusinesses through agribusiness incubation, capacity building, mentoring, coaching and providing access to relevant value chain stakeholders and financial capital. As part of business incubation is the development of a supportive ecosystem at large.

Thus, the Matunda Hub team, having participated in various networking events in Kampala and acknowledging the benefits of such, thought it wise to organize a forum in the fruit basket of Uganda- Teso sub-region, to stimulate business and networking opportunities. The aim of the forum was to strengthen the private and public sector, develop business opportunities and enhance linkages among like-minded stakeholders.

Participants were drawn from various backgrounds. Aside the key stakeholders: youth having innovative business ideas or start-ups, leaders of farmer groups and SACCOs were present. Also present were the agricultural students from Busitema University – Arapai Campus as well as representatives of local SMEs and development organisations such as Farm Africa, Youth Action Uganda, TESOPEDO among others, contributed to an engaging and interactive forum.

In the event were three invited keynote speakers:

Mr Otim Gerald, The 2017 winner of the prestigious Young Achievers Award and founder of Ensibuuko, a successful fin-tech start-up that supports SACCOs and farmers in lean record keeping and management practices combining agricultural financing and entrepreneurship. His keynote speech mainly focused on four steps in how to access capital:

  • Get knowledge on your business and sector (Knowledge is capital),
  • Invest in people to establish a network of the right people, (people are capital)
  • Discover the tool to transform an idea into a viable business (i.e. technology) and
  • Money is capital.

Mr Paul Zaake, the founder of Fruit Village Africa and Country Representative of YPARD Uganda. In his keynote speech emphasized more on a hands-on view on "3Ps to business success“: people, process and product. He inspired the participants by sharing his story of impacting the community in Rakai through fruit value addition and product development.

The third keynote speaker was Mr Mugabi John, the Director of Action for Liberty and Economic Development (ALED) based in Entebbe talked about identifying opportunities in business and exploiting them. He talked about the "Cheetah Generation of Africa“ which looks at problems and their solutions from a different angle. He pointed out that cheetahs do not look for excuses but stress transparency, rights and good governance as opposed to corruption, inefficiency and incompetence.

During the course of the day, the micro-finance institution Asaak briefly pitched about accessing financial capital to boost business growth of MSMEs and start-ups.

Kampala Angel Investor Network (KAIN) presented on their activities in the country and how they are bridging the gap between brilliant entrepreneurial ideas and necessary starting or boost capital as they hinted towards an upcoming pitching opportunity (Link: http://goo.gl/g8mG9j).

During a roundtable discussions, the five groups brainstormed about innovative employability and how to go beyond the "certificate culture“; solutions to management practices as a cause for business failure or stagnancy; cash flow management and collecting outstanding customer debts; modern marketing practices to bridge the gap between products and the end customer as well as how mutually beneficial partnerships can be enhanced.

Among the outcomes presented by group leaders were mentoring as a solution to struggling managers and entrepreneurs; offering discounts on cash payment to incentivize early payments by customers and improve the cash flow of a business; volunteering and practical engagement for youth to bridge the unemployment gap as well as regular and continuous information sharing; and networking for enhanced innovativeness.

After this great success, Matunda Hub commits itself to organize such forums and interactions on a quarterly basis and seeks to engage various stakeholders as well as keynote speakers from the area and beyond. Going forward, Matunda Hub will also offer training on how to pitch to support young people in successfully making use of pitching opportunities, using social media to market products and services and agricultural value addition, to name just a few.

Photo credit: Simon Digital Onyait and Julius Masaba