The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in partnership with Mastercard Foundation has awarded Shs 5.9 billion seed funding to an additional 78 Ugandan small and growing businesses through their Hi-innovator Program.

This brings the total of businesses funded to 110 since the Hi-Innovator Programme was launched in May 2021, totaling Shs 10.5 billion in seed funding.

The Hi-Innovator Programme is an initiative by NSSF in partnership with Mastercard Foundation that aims to create an eco-system where indigenous Small and Growing Businesses can be supported to mature into viable businesses.

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The winners were selected from over 6,300 entrepreneurs that had enrolled in the program’s learning platform dubbed the NSSF Hi-Innovator Business Academy, an online self-directed platform where entrepreneurs obtained foundational business knowledge over the last three months.

Following a weeklong boot camp, 103 entrepreneurs were then shortlisted to pitch their ideas to an investment committee that included seasoned entrepreneurs and investors. The businesses were from five sectors including agriculture, digital economy, fashion and beauty, health, and light manufacturing.

Speaking at the awarding ceremony, Patrick Ayota, the NSSF Deputy Managing Director said, “It is gratifying to see that the number of businesses we are supporting this year through the Hi-Innovator Program has increased from 32 to 78. This is an indication that we have more innovative ideas and possible scalable businesses to support in growth.”

The successful businesses were assessed using a criterion that included the potential for scalability, sustainability, good governance, and impact on the community.

“The achievements we have seen in the program so far give us confidence in this partnership with the NSSF. Through this program, we believe that we are on the right track to attaining our ambitious goal of creating over 132,000 employment opportunities for youth and women in the country,” said Arnold Byarugaba, Mastercard Foundation’s Lead Micro, Small and Medium-sized enterprises for Uganda.

Richard Zulu, Founding Partner and Team Lead at Outbox Uganda which is the implementing partner for the Hi-innovator program, attributed the program’s success to the partnership-led approach with several other ecosystem players who provide technical assistance and mentorship which unlocks affordable financing for entrepreneurs at scale.

The selected businesses will now undergo a due diligence process and will be supported by other partner innovation hubs in the next four months to enable them to address business hurdles.

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