Stories from Uganda

Homeward

Photos: Busembatia, eastern Uganda (©Anna Patton)

Here’s what came out of my trip to Uganda, late last year:

The Guardian published my story – Uganda is a land of entrepreneurs, but how many startups thrive? – on the reality behind a recent report claiming the country is the most entrepreneurial in the world. It’s easy to start a business, and many people – even those in a full time job – do so, but few manage to grow or even continue their venture.

I explored the “growing and thriving community of social purpose businesses in Kampala” in a piece for Pioneers Post magazine [paywall]. There’s a vibrant support system in Uganda, with numerous accelerators and incubators setting up shop – but a gap in support for mid-stage ventures, and for some social enterprises, difficulties in overcoming a nonprofit mentality.

I also met with Educate!, an organisation that helps young people create their own businesses while still at school, and which is expanding rapidly. My story for Devex – Selling entrepreneurship to a million students – describes how a research trip to India, an obsession with data, and a vision for growth from the outset is helping them expand their work into 10 countries.

In Kampala and Mbarara, I visited Tugende, which provides motorcycle taxi drivers with affordable loans to buy, rather than rent, their bikes. They have long waiting lists, all through word of mouth, and are helping shift perceptions of the (usually) young, male drivers as inherently risky; they’ve even got insurance companies to provide coverage. Read more on the Guardian: Ugandan social enterprise meets success through motorcycle ownership.

Finally, I spoke to numerous entrepreneurs, funders, supporters and researchers at the Scaling Social Business Symposium in Kampala to compile their five tips for social enterprises looking to scale.

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