The National Social Security Fund (NSSF), in partnership with Mastercard Foundation, has recently announced a UGX 35 billion innovation program to support local small and growing businesses over the next 5 years.
The program dubbed the “NSSF Hi-Innovator” will provide practical online entrepreneurship training to more than 75,000 youth to enable them to address gaps in their businesses.
The NSSF HI-Innovator Program consists of two phases; Pre-accelerator and Accelerator stages.
Phase 1 Pre-Accelerator
Self-directed online learning via a platform providing foundational business knowledge to entrepreneurs to enable them to address gaps in their businesses. It is geared towards providing foundational business knowledge to entrepreneurs to enable them to address gaps in their businesses.
The beauty with online learning platforms is you can get to consume content from anywhere within the country and the choice of implementation support partner hubs is diverse in that support is available countrywide.
It also enables entrepreneurs to prepare for the next phase of support known as the accelerator and is thus a prerequisite for participation in the Accelerator Phase (Phase 2).
How the Pre-Accelerator Stage Works?
Step 1: Express your need via the NSSF Hi-Innovator website to receive the funding. You will receive instructions in your email on how to proceed.
Step 2: Join the Pre-Accelerator. The pre-accelerator step consists of an 8 part module course online for 45 days. With applied exercises to enable learners/entrepreneurs to apply the skills, they are learning to their businesses.
Step 3: Phase two, Join the Accelerate & Pitch phase: The pre-accelerator phase is a build-up to the last part of the Hi-Innovator program; accelerate and pitch part. The accelerator is a six-month business support process where you receive funding, technical assistance, business development, training, and market development support from implementation support partner hubs. The list of hubs include;
- Makerere University Innovation and Incubation Center(Central region)
- MUBS Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Incubation Centre(Central region)
- Stanbic Business Incubator(Central region)
- Startup Uganda
- Inpact(Western region)
- Amara Hub(Northern region)
- Shona(Central region)
- Uganda Christian University(Eastern Uganda).
NSSF Managing Director Richard Byarugaba said during the launch that;
The Fund is working to strengthen the existing entrepreneurship ecosystem through which entrepreneurs can be harnessed and supported to build profitable, sustainable, and scalable businesses, as well as engaging the young people in developing solutions that address today’s social and economic challenges.
“Interacting with young innovators, I have understood that their businesses fail to succeed not just because they lack affordable financing, but also a business development support system. We are creating this ecosystem that consists of entrepreneurs, business incubation, advisory, and business development services as well as funding partners that these young innovators can benefit from,” he said.
The Hi-Innovator Programme is co-funded by Mastercard Foundation, through its Young Africa Works initiative. Outbox Uganda, an innovations hub is serving as the lead implementation partner.
Mastercard Foundation Country Head, Samuel Yalew Adela, applauded NSSF for starting the initiative and committed to being part of the ecosystem for the next 5 years.
“This partnership is part of our Young Africa Works initiative that aims at helping millions of people to find a pathway out of poverty. We have committed to enabling 30 million young Africans, especially women, to find employment they see as dignified and fulfilling by 2030. The Hi-innovator Programme gives us an opportunity to further contribute to the achievement of this objective.”
To join the program, innovators should register via www.nssfug.org/hi-innovator or go to any of our partner hubs across the country to get any necessary help.
Keep in mind, the program is limited to Ugandans only between the age of 18 and 35 years old. You can check your eligibility and other terms of engagement here in the About section of the website.
Let us know in the comment section if you will be a beneficiary of the NSSF Hi Innovator program. The fact that a part of the process is online and back by tech levels the playing ground and breeds confidence for the next phase where there is funding.