On Friday, 22nd July, 2022, thirteen social entrepreneurs from our Business Accelerator Programme graduated after taking part in a 6 months training which aimed at boosting the capacity of their social enterprises and making them investment ready. The Program was an intensive experience during which the social entrepreneurs received expert coaching, mentoring, exposure to potential investors and partners.
The Business Accelerator Programme was launched in 2019, to encourage women entrepreneurs to begin a journey of growing their business combined with their busy schedules. The program is an innovation of Covid-19 era designed in a unique way and brings hands on Social entrepreneurship experience from experts in social entrepreneurship and business growth.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, the presiding officer Dr. Cathy Ikiror Mbidde, the Director at Makerere University Entrepreneurship and Innovation Centre said that the Business Accelerator Program is a great move to inspire, transform and build upcoming social enterprises that will eventually eliminate the problem of unemployment in the country.
Also Mr. Charles Nalyaali who is the former Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Fina Bank Uganda Limited and Equity Bank Uganda Limited respectively encouraged the social entrepreneurs to work hard, stay focused, invest and make more money in order for their businesses to survive for a longer period of time.
Our Business development skills training for the Accelerator Program has been deeply articulated using design thinking approach, and the trainings are conducted by experienced entrepreneurs. The training has provided the entrepreneurs with the skills, systems and processes to confidently grow and improve their businesses to scale and increase social impact.
Nevertheless, these Social enterprises have played a significant role in socio-economic growth and development of Uganda through creating employment especially to the vulnerable populations i.e. the Youth and women. We acknowledge that in Uganda, this category of entrepreneurs contributes close to 90% of private sector production and play a crucial role in income generation, especially for the poor and provides employment to over 2.5 million people.
According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM, 2011), there are four women social entrepreneurs for every five men. It is also stated that women are often those left on the sidelines of the formal economy. They face social, economic, political and legal contexts that include a gender bias and stereotyped beliefs that determine their chances on the market. Women’s social enterprises often face issues related to finance. For example, estimates indicate that in Africa, women receive less than 10% of all credit going to small farmers and only 1% of the total credit for the agricultural sector. Yet they also face obstacles in access to the market, technology, and knowledge and expertise, and in availability of entrepreneurial skills. These gendered standards not only influence the level of women’s entrepreneurial engagement, but also their possibility to benefit from economic activities as customers or as a workforce.
However, Capital Solutions through the accelerator program seeks to reduce the gender gap in business growth and sustainability between male and women-led businesses by providing a learning space, access to gender based investors and profitable markets as well mentors to solely support women led enterprises to scale for high social impact.