The key to Uganda’s booming ecosystem is funding opportunities for startups in Uganda

The startup ecosystem in Uganda is nothing short of vibrant and promising with innovations that provide digital solutions to everyday issues. Despite challenges faced like lack of access to funding opportunities for startups, different innovators and entrepreneurs have emerged and managed to thrive in the different tech sectors like fintech, prop tech, edtech, telehealth.

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Uganda comes in at number 14 of Africa’s most competitive tech ecosystems and was listed as the most entrepreneurial country in the world in 2015. However, according to the funding report by Disrupt Africa, the country had a not so good year in 2020 as funding for startups fell compared to 2019 and 2018 collecting only $ 1.37m from a whooping $ 4million in previous years.

One of the biggest challenges faced by startups in Uganda and the world over is funding. Without enough funding, most of these startups fail to garner enough capital to allow them to carry out operations required for them to set off further than the beginning stage.

This could be attributed to the fact that there is limited access to funding opportunities especially from the government leaving many innovators to turn to private organizations to seek funding. Funding opportunities for startups in Uganda are available through a number of channels like social media where investors avail themselves and ask startups to apply and join to secure funding.

The categories of funding opportunities for startups

Opportunities for these startups will be broken down in three categories which are; The government, private investors within Uganda and foreign investors.

The government through its different ministries creates opportunities for startups where they can apply and stand the chance to get funding. A major example is the National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP) that was launched under the Ministry of ICT and the National Research and Innovation Program (NRIP) under the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Technology. Innovators have however cited the need for more effort from the government.

Read also: The Ministry of Science innovation fund provides a great funding opportunity for innovators

The private sector and foreign investors tend to collaborate to create opportunities for funding though there are situations where they work independently. Within Uganda, organizations in the private sector like Makerere Innovation and Incubation Centre, StartUp Uganda, The Innovation Village, Outbox Hub, Kampala Angel Investment Network, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Imuka Access, the Mango Fund provide different funding opportunities for startups in Uganda.

Read more: Ugandan startups awarded 60,000 USD by UNCDF for outstanding innovations

Foreign funding is available from organizations like UNICEF, Google for Africa StartUps, the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, Villgro Africa, the Bayer Foundation.

Important to note is that some of these opportunities are only available on a yearly basis. As a startup, you need to be alert and check out different websites for such opportunities. At TechRafiki, we have coverage for these opportunities on Monday and Friday released during mid-morning.

Different categories of startups in Uganda

Financial technology/fintech leads among the most successful tech startups in Uganda as many fintechs focus on creating financial tools that cater to the unbanked population. People in underserved communities are usually left out when it comes to accessing financial services since the requirements are usually tight.

The edtech sector is also growing steadily and fast and has been cited as one of great importance. As many struggle with the lockdown, edtechs are creating solutions that encourage continuity of studies even when their respective schools are not teaching. Learners can interact with different platforms and study.

Tele-health provides better health care by providing services online which is very much needed in Uganda across all aspects of patient care including safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, communication, education, and equity.

Given that agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy, agri-tech allows farmers, particularly in rural areas, to access a central digital marketplace for their produce, including mobile payments, agriculture information services, and data.

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