In a bid to drive sustainable growth of businesses, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) in partnership with Mastercard Foundation is conducting a training of more than 200 business development services (BDS) providers across the country.
Titled; GrowthPartners Program, BDS participants were drawn from a pool of at least 1,000 applications that underwent a competitive evaluation process based on their placement and ability to impact enterprise development in their respective communities.
Speaking at the opening of the training at Emin Pasha Hotel in Nakasero Tuesday, PSFU chief programmes and projects officer, Damali Ssali, said the participants would be equipped with information on Uganda’s newly formulated business development support standards, tools, mentorship, and resources needed to drive the growth of enterprises.
The African Management Institute is leading the training with tips on accessing finance for their businesses, strategic business planning, streamlining operations, and managing people, among others.
“PSFU has been running various projects to support businesses but the impact has been minimal in some enterprises. We discovered that the BDS ecosystem was characterized by various constraints that limit its potential to generate business growth,” Ssali said.
She added: “Therefore, PSFU through the Lead Firm Project in partnership with Mastercard Foundation decided to contribute to the process of streamlining BDS service delivery by supporting the development of quality standards.”
The BDS standards, now awaiting certification by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), were developed by a technical working group which, among others, comprised officials from the ministry of Trade and PSFU. At least two standards have been finalized but the plan is to set up 10 BDS standards.
“We felt the need to train the private sector about these standards. Normally, standards are developed on paper but there is no training on how to comply with them. When people are well versed with the standards, it will make our companies more competitive both locally and internationally. This is when we shall be able to export more goods to the region and beyond,” she said.
According to Ssali, PSFU has so far identified two limitations to business growth; lack of skills to manage businesses and insufficient funds to run the business. She believes that after the training, the BDS providers will be best placed to sensitize business owners who hardly notice gaps in their operations and the standards expected of them in the market.
BETTER SERVICE DELIVERY
The small medium enterprises (SMEs) are also expected to have a diverse range of BDS providers across the country that are equipped with practical strategies to navigate business challenges and seize opportunities. According to the investment specialist in charge of partnerships and engagements at PSFU, Cecilia Kengoro Mutabanura, there will be improved service delivery among the BDS providers after the two-day training.
“We have been seeing inadequate services offered to enterprises by BDS providers out there. After all these years of PSFU giving support to the enterprises, they were not giving the impact that we are looking for. For the outstanding BDS providers, their services are expensive,” Kengoro said.
She added: “We thought that if we can be able to raise the competencies of a good number of BDS providers, more enterprises would have access to good quality services at affordable prices.”
The BDS services, mainly non-financial such as technical advice, incubations, marketing, consultancy, and management support, are intended to bring out growth or transformation of the businesses. Kengoro said similar BDS trainings have also been held in Mbale, Gulu, Mbarara, and Fort portal in the past three weeks and trainees will continuously receive support to catalyze business growth wherever they are placed.
Dona Sava – Programmes and Projects Lead at Hive Colab
The training is all about ensuring that BDS providers are regulated and operating in a manner that is appealing to our clients. There are many service providers out there but the standards are not only going to regulate us but also expand our networks.
We shall graduate and eventually become certified BDS service providers on the PSFU portal. We hope to use the standards from the training to serve our entrepreneurs better. This will also help them to grow their businesses.
Hassan Sekajoolo – Youth Livelihood Development
This organization works to develop micro-enterprises for youths in the country by taking incomes to the poorest youth. The training is crucial for us because we are working towards eradicating youth unemployment. However, we are getting skills on how to provide this business development support to these young people in the simplest terms to grow from micro-enterprises to big cooperations.
Joan Kyokutamba – executive director of Shungura Foundation
There are several unemployed youths who don’t know how to seek employment. They have been pushed to create their jobs but their parents didn’t nurture them into this space. BDS providers think this particular space is a professional one that no one should tap into.
However, I have realized that there’s a need to improve our service provision market so that we tap into larger markets and get bigger clientele through such training.