Wednesday January 20 2016

New innovation centre to mentor entrepreneurs opens

By Stephen Otage

The Innovations Village, an entrepreneurs’ and innovators forum, has opened shop in Kampala for people with business ideas to receive mentorship and capital to turn their ideas into viable enterprise.

Speaking at the inaugural entrepreneurs’ Changemakerspeaker series meet last week, Mr Jimmy Serugo, a trustee of the chief executive officers (CEO) summit, said the Innovations Village is a product of last year’s CEO meeting where business leaders expressed the need for a forum for young people to express their ideas to people who can develop them into businesses, products and services.

“We have many people who are capable of creating things but they have not been given the opportunity. We are encouraging them to come and network with like-minded people who can encourage them to think, create and innovate,” he said.

“Young people should learn that money follows a service. Let them come here and learn how to grow their ideas from nothing into business then we can help them move their businesses to the next level,” Mr Serugo, who is also a Monitor Publications Limited board member, added.
Among the areas that the village focuses on are ideas in agriculture, entrepreneurship, health, education, media and climate change.

“Our vision is to bring big ideas to life. We want to challenge popular assumptions and ignite thought in order to achieve social economic inclusion of societies,” said Mr Japeth Kawanguzi, the co-founder of the Innovations Village.

Mr Ally Mbwana, the managing partner Savannah Fund, told the entrepreneurs that the two major things failing most business startups in Africa are lack of teams and formidable products that can attract investors to invest their money.

“The two main things failing entrepreneurs are lack of working products and functional teams. Without working teams, you are not investable, just like products which are not working, cannot be used, touched,” he said.

He added that these are the most important factors that entrepreneurs need to address first if their enterprises are to stand the test of time.

Uganda’s example
Uganda’s entrepreneurship rate stands at 28 per cent, being in the first place globally as the best entrepreneurial country, according to 2014 Global Entrepreneurs Monitor report. Ironically, 70 per cent of the enterprises established hardly live for a single year.