Founder at The Innovation Village
Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind? Nominate a country guest editor.
Disclaimer: all content within the Startup Ecosystem Summary and Editor’s Guide sections is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the guest editor. The guest editor is not responsible for content within the Country Snapshot and Community sections, as much of this content is compiled from external sources and does not necessarily reflect the guest editor’s view.
For young populations in emerging markets such as Uganda, entrepreneurship and innovation are increasingly playing a transformational role in a burgeoning digital age. However, despite being recognized as the most entrepreneurial country in the world just a few years ago, a significant number of ventures in Uganda continue to die before they really get off the ground.
This has been strongly attributed to a broken ecosystem characterized by closed systems and limited market access whereby entrepreneurs’ ideas are not tested and validated for commercialization; limited available skilled talent in the areas of highly specialized technology and business management; outmoded and insufficient policies to foster innovation and entrepreneurship; and lack of access to patient capital options for startups to obtain the necessary resources for growth.
Is it crucial for the ecosystem as a whole to take a community approach where different stakeholders – entrepreneurs, academia, the private sector and government deepen the application of technology to power social economic prosperity. The aim is to create a participatory environment by inviting these partners to join in collective problem identification and thereby deliver feasible impactful solutions to the local community and across different key industries.
Given Uganda is the world’s second youngest population with over 78% of the population aged below 35, there’s a great opportunity to promote skills development especially for the digital age. To support this, the government is set to invest heavily in the education system with a focus on Science, Technology, Education, Arts, Mathematics and Design (STEAMD) as well as R&D to produce globally competitive human resources. Furthermore, promotion of strong public-private partnerships will stimulate a co-creative environment between academia, industry, and government thus fueling socio-economic growth.
This will unlock myriads of opportunities such as increased export of high-tech products/ services, more patents, increased labour productivity and public expenditure towards R&D. Some of the numerous societal and economic benefits will include better quality of life for citizens and revenue generation as tax for the government.
Recently the ecosystem has come together under an umbrella organization called Startup Uganda to map out opportunities for collaboration and harmonization as we work to grow the ecosystem together.
Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.
Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.
Editor’s pick of which ‘Featured Startup’ is especially worth following and why.
Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.
Editor’s commentary on how the country’s culture and history have impacted the ecosystem.
Anything related to the field in technology was traditionally thought to be limited to people with a background in computer science, information technology, and software engineering. At the moment we are seeing a shift in Uganda, where more people are beginning to appreciate the importance of technology and the role it plays in not only solving our everyday problems but in the entrepreneurship space. This has brought about an increase in data science and coding programs that are also open to people who have no technical background whatsoever.
In light of the high level of unemployment present in Uganda, more people are beginning to see entrepreneurship as a full-time career they can take on as opposed to a side-hustle gig. This has a lot to do with the increased support for entrepreneurship and a better understanding among entrepreneurs about what it takes to have a successful startup.
Interested in becoming more involved in this ecosystem and connecting with local ecosystem leaders? Let us know.
Growth Africa (Kampala): GrowthAfrica is a leading acceleration and growth partner for African entrepreneurs and companies scaling their business in and across Africa. It provides business growth programs for high-potential entrepreneurs as well as design and deliver activities for partners and clients in support of entrepreneurs. (Source: Growth Africa)
Outbox (Kampala): An innovation hub based in Kampala, Uganda helping new and upcoming African entrepreneurs interested in using technology to build high growth companies with co-working space, business incubation and technical training programs. Through partnerships, it helps them raise money for their ventures and access markets. (Source: Outbox)
Hi Innovator: An initiative of Uganda's National Social Security Fund aimed at giving visibility to small and growing businesses to help them secure seed funding, technical assistance and partnerships for their growth. (Source: Hi Innovator)
CIPESA - ICT Policy Centre for Eastern and Southern Africa: Based in Kampala, CIPESA has worked across East and Southern Africa. It works with networks, individuals and organisations (private sector, governmental, academic, civil society) across the region, positioning itself as a leading centre for research and analysis of information aimed to enable policy makers in the region to understand ICT policy issues. (Source: CIPESA)