Arthur Mukembo, the Lead FutureLab Studio at Innovation Village

Garage48 and Estonia Centre for International Development in partnership with The Innovation Village have organized a two-day workshop themed “Empowering the Start-up Community (ESC) to discuss ways in which ecosystem builders can be revitalized their support to innovators and entrepreneurs need within the East Africa start-up ecosystem to thrive.

The Empowering Start-up Community workshop is part of the EU: Africa The Journey program aimed at boosting local start-up ecosystem and strengthening networking and collaboration ties between the start-up hubs and entrepreneurial support organization locally and in neighbouring countries.

Speaking at the event, Arthur Mukembo, the Lead FutureLab Studio at Innovation Village noted the start-up ecosystem needs collaboration to scale.  He said, “The ESC workshop will provide our local entrepreneurs with the platform to network with their counterparts in Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda, understand their strength, leverage on the available opportunities and strengthen our collaboration with key players in the East Africa Entrepreneurial Support Organizations.”

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“From the growth challenges mapped out by entrepreneurs at the early and later stage during the workshop, we intend to develop a Best Practice Manual on tackling these issues and a resource guide on the opportunities, funding and investment sources and give recommendations on how to support them during these impeding moments,” Mukembo said.

Adding, it’s our passion to see entrepreneurs thrive that is why we very keen on leveraging this workshop to learn how we can create opportunities for startups. “We want to see how you can enable Ugandan startups to expand into each of your markets as well. Ultimately, we are stronger together and have a great opportunity in the East African Community, Africa Continental Free Trade Area,” Mukembo emphasized.

The Start-Up sector is an important engine for socio-economic growth since it facilitates increased productivity, fosters innovation and generates employment opportunities. In Uganda, the start-up ecosystem has registered growth and continues to experience disruptive digitalization, growing interests and engagement from venture capitalists and investors in across the globe.  

According to a report by StartupBlink Ecosystem Index in 2021, Uganda obtained 0.18 points in the start-up ecosystem, ranking it the 97th out of 100 countries globally with the most developed best start-up environment in Africa. Kenya and Rwanda were ranked 61st and 69th respectively. Therefore, it’s crucial to know how strategically we can position our start-ups to maximize their potential and tap into the opportunities offered by the East Africa ecosystem to attract avenues for innovation, venture capital firms and ease ways of doing business. 

Joao Rei, Host and Mentor at Garage 48 said, “By engaging more start-up communities across Africa, we will be able to create cross-border connections and form a team of thinktanks who understand Africa’s start-up most pressing challenges and using their experience, we can create solutions with utmost impact to the ecosystem”

Rei said, “Today, we are discussing startups, the problems they face in the East African region, and how we as community of supporters of the ecosystem can help them. Building a startup starts with the idea and I have realised that within the African context, and sometimes we do not want to tell people about the idea. As an ecosystem, we must find a way of helping the startups to loosen up in regards to this. This rigidity doesn’t help our ecosystem.”

The Innovation Village, through FutureLab continues to partner with Enterprise and Entrepreneur Support Organizations with the purpose to connect innovators and tech-enabled start-ups to available opportunities, tools and capital needed to solidify their business to be profitable, attract investment and move beyond early-stageg adopters,” Mukembo concluded.

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