Uganda Youth Start-up Academy to Incubate 1,000 Young Entrepreneurs

On June 21, 2022, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and Korea SMEs and Startups Agency (KOSME) launched the Youth Start-up Academy Uganda project. The project will incubate 1,000 young entrepreneurs and improve the start-up ecosystem in Uganda to increase youth employment and boost businesses. Participating entrepreneurs will benefit from a three-stage incubation program, access to a fully equipped business creation facility including co-working spaces, IT room, and maker spaces, the opportunity to widen their business networks, and develop joint ventures with local, regional, and international start-ups.

The young entrepreneurs who will participate in the 1st round of incubation were recruited during the official opening ceremony held in Kampala, while 10 entrepreneurs had the chance to pitch their business model in front of judges at an investment relation pitching competition. The program will start in the second half of 2022.

The Youth Start-up Academy Uganda follows the success of the same program in the Republic of Korea, implemented by KOSME. Since its start, the program supported the creation of almost 4,800 start-ups, including two unicorns with a current market value that exceeds $1 billion. The Youth-Start-up Academy project in Uganda is a joint effort between ITC, KOSME, the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U), and Hive Colab, a co-working space in Kampala. Hatwib Mugasa, Executive Director of NITA-U, H.E. Chris Baryomunsi, Minister for ICT & National Guidance Uganda, and H.E. Sung-soo Park, Ambassador at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Uganda participated in the ceremony to congratulate the project launch and pledge their support.

Uganda is a rising star in the African start-up ecosystem. The country’s young population and fast-growing IT infrastructure are the main drivers of the Ugandan ecosystem development. Especially Uganda’s Fintech industry shows 35% of annual growth from 2016 to 2018. Despite the vitality of the ecosystem and the success of the fintech sector, a significant number of entrepreneurs from all sectors continue to face serious difficulties in transforming their business ideas into viable and scalable businesses. Ensuring that these entrepreneurs have access to the right support in a structure that is ready to nurture their ideas and help them grow, is the project’s goal.

In her remarks, Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Executive Director, International Trade Centre said “The Youth-Start Up Academy has a very ambitious goal. We want to incubate the first Ugandan unicorn start-up. This is not going to be easy. But by joining forces with our partners, we believe that we can do it. The Youth Start-up Academy in the Republic of Korea has already incubated two unicorns, and a Ugandan start-up supported by ITC in previous projects has reached the pre-unicorn level.”

Hak-Do Kim, President, KOSME said “The Youth Start-up Academy is the most successful supporting program for the Korean start-up ecosystem with over 5,800 alumni since 2011. With today’s launching ceremony, KOSME expects it to be the motive for fostering promising Ugandan young entrepreneurs and the starting point of a sustainable partnership between the Republic of Korea and Uganda.”

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Written by Mercy ANURIKA

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