Unemployment is price for failure to invest in startups - expert

Monday May 20 2019

Ground-breaking. Ms Mukumbya (C) builds a

Ground-breaking. Ms Mukumbya (C) builds a symbolic wall at the ground-breaking event in Namanve last Friday. COURTESY PHOTO  

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Kampala. The current high youth unemployment is a price for government’s failure to support and nurture startups, according to Mr Joseph Nkandu, the National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises executive director and Consortium for enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development Limited (Curad) founder member.

Speaking during a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a Shs10b agribusiness incubation centre in Namanve, Mukono District, Mr Nkandu said government had for long concentrated on supporting “big boys”, which has suffocated startups thus precipitating rapid youth unemployment.
“No society has transformed by this approach [focus on large manufactures]. Government needs to adopt a bottom up approach that supports startups to help youth turn their innovations into real industries,” he said.

Mr Nkandu was responding to Mr Hamza Galiwango, the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) director for business park development, who had earlier said that since 2013 UIA had changed its strategy to “promoting local content”, especially startups with multi-sectoral capacity.
“Our focus had been on the “big boys” such as Roofings that can invest about or more than $200m. But we have changed and we are ready to support startups with a large multiplier effect in areas such as getting land,” he said.

The Shs10b incubation centre in the Namanve Business and Industrial Park is an initiative of the Curad with support from aBi Development.
Ms Josephine Mukumbya, the aBi group chief executive officer, who was the chief guest at the ground-breaking ceremony, said the centre was a step in the right direction given that there is an increase in the number of startups whose innovations must be supported to grow into serious enterprises. aBi funded the project up to a tune of Shs5.4b.
The incubation centre, which is expected to be complete before the end of this year, will be a convergence facility for improvement of horticultural products, key among them fruits and vegetable. It will have the capacity to help at least 2,000 innovator.

Building incubations
According to Mr Apollo Segawa, the Curad chief executive officer, government must dedicate resources to building incubation centres in every region of the country to improve innovations.
Curad, he said, plans to establish other centres, which would need at least Shs30b in terms of investment.