Africa is on the march towards a more prosperous future in which all its citizens are empowered to realize their full potential.
KAMPALA - According to the African Union Roadmap on Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through Investments in Youth, "Africa is on the march towards a more prosperous future in which all its citizens are empowered to realize their full potential, live with satisfaction and pride about their continent."
However, according to Everest Turyahikayo's report on Challenges Faced by Small and Medium Enterprises in Raising Finance in Uganda, SMEs continue to face challenges in raising finance.
According to Turyahikayo's report, the challenges include inadequate collateral to secure loans; information opaqueness; low level technical and management skills; lack of professionalism; competition and inability to afford long term financing among others.
In Uganda, Sam Turyatunga, a young entrepreneur is transforming a fruit juice business which he started in his hostel room selling to his fellow students and lecturers into a multi-million-shilling company.
His company manufactures banana and mango fruit juices under the Uhuru Fruit Drinks brand.
Turyatunga, a graduate of food science later, got linked to Afri-banana products Limited by one of his lecturers.
Afri-banana products Limited is an agribusiness innovation incubator for banana sector value-chain development, established five years ago in Kampala, under the Universities, Business, and Research in Agricultural Innovation (UniBRAIN).
As many youths decry the lack of capital to start their own business "With my Shs3million savings, Turyatunga says nothing is impossible with resilience and starting small. I purchased machinery including pasteurizer and blender and relocated to Nansana. Now the company is worth Shs124million producing over 1,500 litres of juice per day", he said.
According to Patrick Mweheire, CEO Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited, capital has never been an issue; the issue is actually luck of preparation for the available opportunities. There are many opportunities for funding but sometimes organizations can't find the right people to saw the seed in", he said.
Speaking at the 2nd Annual Kampala Business Conclave launched by AB & David Advocates Africa in October Pheona Nabasa-Wall the Vice President Uganda Law Society said "with Africa's future tagged among the most impressive continental features in the Globe, the Conclave is an annual AGM for like-minded individuals and businesses to talk about the economic future of Uganda."
The Business Conclave which will be held under the theme regional integration and SME growth, Pheona said will cover topics like strides and progress in the SME environment, opportunities for the private sector in the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), internet of things (IoT), Women in Business, insurance and risk management amongst SME's and Oil and Gas opportunities among others.
According to Pheona, SMEs need to leverage available tools like the internet, partnerships to upscale their businesses adding that there is a need for SMEs to digitize their operations in order to compete favourably on the international market.
The Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Commerce for SMEs Beatrice Alyanata stated that what will catapult SMEs from their current situation is the appreciation of regional integration, internet of things and leveraging technology to be able to trade beyond borders.
The event which will take place at Rivona Suites Mbuya on the 26 of November Alyanata said will bring together a variety of experts including lawyers, accountants, bankers, economists, entrepreneurs, oil and gas practitioners, civil servants and Politicians among others to train and inform SMEs on the opportunities available worldwide.
Alyanata added that SMEs need to do some strategic things like legalizing their operations, digitize their business and embrace partnerships to be able to position themselves well for the opportunities available in our country and even internationally.