The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) Hi-Innovator innovation programme has created close to 60,000 employment opportunities for youth and women entrepreneurs over the last 3 years of implementation, the Fund’s actingNSSF, Managing Director Patrick Ayota has said.
Speaking at the second Hi-Innovator Women Accelerator Pitch Day at Mestil Hotel in Kampala, Ayota also revealed that the programme has so far supported 173 women and youth-owned businesses across all sectors of the economy with shs 9.9 billion seed funding.
The NSSF Hi-Innovator Women Accelerator is a women-only cohort aimed at giving women entrepreneurs across all sectors an even opportunity to improve their business skills and grow their businesses into resilient enterprises that are more competitive and better placed to receive financial services.
It is the fourth cohort of the NSSF Hi-innovator Programme, an Innovation initiative by the National Social Security Fund in partnership with Mastercard Foundation.
It aims to create an ecosystem where small and growing businesses by Ugandan entrepreneurs can be supported
to mature into viable businesses.
“When we launched the NSSF Hi-innovator in May 2021, we set a target of creating 132,000 work opportunities for youths countrywide by 2025. We are close to 50% of that target and as businesses in the pipeline begin realizing more value from the funding provided, more and more work opportunities will be created,” Ayota said.
The Hi-innovator program provides Ugandan entrepreneurs with seed funding worth shs75 million each and entrepreneurial training using a self-directed online learning platform, the NSSF Hi-
innovator Business Academy.
At least 93 more women-owned businesses have benefitted from the latest round of seed funding after selection by the programme Investments Committee that evaluates competing entrepreneurs.
The selection follows a strict criterion that includes the potential for scalability, sustainability,
governance framework, and impact on the community.
Richard Zulu, the Outbox Lead, that champions the implementation of the programme explained that potential businesses are selected from the Hi-innovator business academy and are then subjected to a boot camp that prepares them to pitch for seed funding.
“Over the last 3 years of the NSSF Hi-Innovator, we’ve seen entrepreneurs grow more confident and come forward to face investors. They are no longer afraid to open their businesses for scrutiny. This bodes well for the innovation and start-up community in Uganda. Eventually, Uganda will catch up with our peers in the region,” he said.