Despite being ranked one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world, Uganda has one of the highest business failure rates with many micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) collapsing before witnessing their first anniversary.
Many local businesses in Uganda fail due to challenges such as hiring the wrong people and poor financial management skills, among others.
Entrepreneurs, therefore, find themselves in need of business development services (BDS) to help them improve the performance of their businesses, ability to compete and access markets. These BDS providers include individuals, companies and associations offering general business support services such as training, coaching, consulting, incubators and accelerators.
Due to the critical role BDS providers play in ensuring the growth of MSMEs, the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) in partnership with the MasterCard Foundation has come up with a draft for the national business development services standards aimed at building capacity of BDS providers to serve MSMEs.
Francis Kisirinya, the chief membership officer at PSFU, said the standards focus on competency and internal capacity for the BDS providers to address weak management practices.
“We know that investing in high-quality BDS can accelerate MSME growth and create jobs. BDS providers compliant with world-class standards and research can spark meaningful change for Ugandan MSMEs such as increase in business performance, preservation and creation of jobs and improved livelihoods,” Kisirinya said.
In efforts to implement the developed standards, PSFU will further conduct various training and engagements with the various BDS service providers and users in the country. The campaign will also equip organisations, entrepreneurs and business professionals with information on Uganda’s newly formulated business development support standards, tools, mentorship and resources needed to drive sustainable business growth.
The sensitization will take six weeks, starting in the middle of September through October in four regions across the country; Kampala, Masaka, Gulu, Mbale and Mbarara, where there will be two days of in-person training for the BDS providers and 12 months of programme support with a target of reaching 200 BDS providers mainly serving youth and women-led businesses as well as rural-based enterprises.
John Walugembe, the executive director of Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises, acknowledged that many businesses find it difficult to find genuine experts who can help and advise them on how to grow their businesses.
“We need standards in the delivery of BDS. A lot of SMEs have approached BDS providers and reached substandard services and in many instances have lost money.”