Country Guide

Uganda

Uganda
CK Japheth

Guest Editor

CK Japheth

Team Lead at The Innovation Village

Japheth is building The Innovation Village; Uganda’s launchpad for leading Innovators and entrepreneurs co-creating the future through the smart application of technology to unravel challenges and create unique solutions. He works with mission-oriented entrepreneurs to capture new value from digital—creating products, experiences, and businesses.

 

In under 3 years the Innovation Village has grown to become a community of 110 startups totaling to 2,000 innovators 40% young women building solutions to urgent problems across 10 sectors. This generation is at the forefront of realizing the potential of Industry 4.0 in Uganda and inspiring the smart application of technology for business and community while building today’s most in demand skills.

 

The Innovation Village with the support of private public partners is on an expansion drive to locate in 9 regional locations across the country. This will see us build 100 startups annually in 10 growth sectors as we aspire to make Uganda the region’s best destination to become an entrepreneur going on to employ 300,000 youth in the process.


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.

Startup ecosystem summary

Key Startup Cities

Kampala, Mbarara, Jinja, Gulu

Connected Country Ecosystems

Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania

Differentiators

  • The youngest population in the world: the youth population is well-educated and growing to become a force to unlock industry 4.0 prospects and the latest technology trends

Challenges

  • Limited talent
  • Lack of supportive government policy
  • Limited access to consumer markets
  • Limited capital/funding

Editor's Guide

Introduction

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.

Outlook

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.

Featured Tech Startups

Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.

Startup Showcase

Editor’s pick of which ‘Featured Startup’ is especially worth following and why.

Xente is building Africa’s digital economy through easing payment transactions. It allows small and medium businesses to sell to a local and regional market, most recently expanding to Kenya and Nigeria. Xente is leading the charge for the growing payments ecosystem with innovations like “buy now, pay later.”

Focus Industries

Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.

AgtechProvides an opportunity for farmers, especially in rural areas, to access a central digital marketplace for their produce, including mobile payments, agriculture information services and data given that agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy.
FintechThere’s a focus on the Fintech industry in Uganda as technology provides a significant opportunity for more financial inclusion given Uganda’s small banked population. In particular, the mobile payments space is big because virtually every adult in the country has a mobile phone.
HealthtechBetter health care is very much needed in Uganda across all aspects of patient care including safety, effectiveness, patient-centeredness, communication, education, and equity.

Talent

Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.

  • Technical TalentModerate
  • Marketing TalentModerate
  • Experienced TalentModerate
  • International TalentUndeveloped

Culture and History

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.

Community

incubators

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)

Hive Colab (Kampala)

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)

accelerators

Shona (Ntinda)

Startups Raising Capital

Safe Boda (Kampala):

  • Industry: Transport and Mobility Stage: Growth
  • Amount of money already to raised (US$): Approximately $1m.
  • Amount of money looking to raise (US$): .
Startups Hiring
There’s more to be discovered! Help us showcase this startup community by adding information.
Government Programs

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)

Non-Government Organizations

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)

Reports & Infographics
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Country Snapshot

Economy

Startup funding
Startup funding
US$23 million (2019)
Standard of living
Standard of living
Global rank: 161
Innovation
Innovation
Global rank: 114 (2020)
Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship
Global rank: 131 (2018)
Annual GDP growth
Annual GDP growth
6.8% (2019)
(Global avg. 3.0%)
Ease of doing business
Ease of doing business
Global rank: 116 (2019)
Ease of starting a business
Ease of starting a business
Global rank: 169
Research and development
Research and development
0.2% of GDP
(Global avg. 2.3%)
Contract enforcement
Contract enforcement
Global rank: 77

Sources

Startup Funding: WeeTracker
STANDARD OF LIVING: International Monetary Fund - GDP per capita (PPP)
INNOVATION: Global Innovation Index
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Global Entrepreneurship Index
ANNUAL GDP GROWTH: World Bank
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: World Bank
EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS: World Bank
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: World Bank
CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT: World Bank

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

Society

Population
Population
45.7 million (2020)
Government
Government
Presidential Republic
Stability
Stability
Global rank: 107 (2020)
Internet usage
Internet usage
23.7% (2019)
Smartphone usage
Smartphone usage
15.6% (2018)
Literacy
Literacy
76% (2018)
Population under 15
Population under 15
46% (2019)
Median age
Median age
15.8 (2018)

Sources

POPULATION: Worldometer
GOVERNMENT: The World Factbook
STABILITY: Global Innovation Index
INTERNET USAGE: International Telecommunications Union
SMARTPHONE USAGE: Newzoo
LITERACY: World Bank
POPULATION UNDER 15: World Bank
MEDIAN AGE: The World Factbook

*Updated with latest available data based on listed source.

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