National Social Security Fund (NSSF), in partnership with MasterCard Foundation has earmarked over Ushs7.6bn seed funding to 100 indigenous women-owned businesses, under the third cohort of their NSSF Hi-innovator programme, an innovation initiative.
This was revealed at the launch of the 3rd funding round for NSSF Hi-Innovator dubbed NSSF Hi-Innovator Women Accelerator.
Patrick Ayota, the NSSF Deputy Managing Director says this funding is aimed at giving women entrepreneurs an opportunity to improve their business skills and grow their businesses whilst readying them for future investor funding.
This comes after a noticeable low participation of women entrepreneurs in business initiatives. Whereas Uganda is ranked the second country in the world with the highest number of women business owners with 38.4%, according to a 2021 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, a 2019 World Bank report stated that women-owned microenterprises in Uganda generate 30% lower profits than their male counterparts.
Through this women-only funding round of the NSSF Hi-Innovator, the national fund will provide opportunities for women entrepreneurs to reverse the trend. Each woman business will therefore be availed up to UGX75m as seed funding with the target being at least 100 businesses through this round.
The NSSF Hi-Innovator Women Accelerator is open to all women entrepreneurs in all economic sectors across the country until the end of January 2023. Adrian Bukenya, the Mastercard Foundation Country Director is thrilled that the partnership`s vision is to play a catalytic role in supporting partners to spur change built on a shared vision and values, equity, and accountability.
“Our approach is holistic, emphasizing resilience and coordination among local implementing partners. Therefore, we are excited to be partners with NSSF on the Hi-innovator program,” he said. Through the NSSF Hi-Innovator, Women Accelerator, MasterCard Foundation aims to support highly impactful and scalable small and growing businesses to access seed capital and technical support for their businesses.
This intervention will also help decentralizing and democratizing investment. More start-ups can receive funding and technical assistance to enable them scale and create work opportunities. In addition to the seed funding, the selected businesses will have unlimited access to customized business courses on the Hi-innovator Business Academy (HBA).
HBA is an online learning platform, tailored technical support, mentorship, and peer-to-peer learning opportunities. Applicants will first receive entrepreneurial skill training through the Hi-innovator business academy, then pitch to an expert panel of judges. It is through pitching that successful businesses will be selected.