The start-up scene

Uganda’s Small and Medium size enterprises account for sizeable share of Uganda’s impact investing market.

Uganda’s Small and Medium size enterprises account for sizeable share of Uganda’s impact investing market. According to the Global Impact Investing Network (GIIN), in 2015 at least 139 impact deals in Uganda had been sealed, resulting in more than US$ 300 million disbursed, or more than 20% of all investment activity in East Africa overall. Quite a number of impact investment funds in Uganda are financed by Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and philanthropists while others are financed by development partners through various corporate social responsibility programs. The ticket sizes range between US$ 200,000 and US$ 2 million.

The Government of Uganda runs three publicly funded initiatives namely the National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP), Hi Innovator, an initiative of the Uganda National Social Security Fund (NSSF), and the Ministry of Gender Youth Livelihood Program. The Uganda Youth Venture Capital Fund which was until recently run by the Ministry of Finance, planning and Economic Development has funded around 4,450 projects that support young individuals and groups. Other government/development partner supported programs include grants, lines of credit, and guarantee facilities for the agribusiness sector.

Uganda’s capital city, Kampala, is home to most of the key startup ecosystem players including Makerere University Innovation and Incubation, the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) Employment Services Bureau, Hive Colab, Outbox, Angels Hub, Pulse Lab Kampala, EA RANLab, The Tribe, The Innovation Village, Uganda Innovation Lab, the Hub Kampala, FinAfrica, Grameen Foundation, AppLab Uganda and Women in Technology Uganda. The Innovation village is a leader in the innovation ecosystem and has established a formidable network of investors, development partners, government, academia, and the major telecommunications players to support over 100 startups across 5 sectors. Kampala is also a network hub for international Innovation hubs such as United Nations (UN) Global Pulse Lab and the Microsoft Innovation Centre. International smart mobility solutions have been piloted in Kampala including Uber, and Safe Boda. Other cities in Uganda including Mbale, Gulu, Jinja, Mbarara and Kisoro, have pioneered innovative and tech-enabled solutions tackling sector-specific challenges tailored for the domestic market.

Investment firms currently active in Uganda’s startup ecosystem number about 27 (refer to directory in appendix). They include, among others, the 97Fund at Innovation village, Imuka Access, The Kampala Angel Investment Network (KAIN), and the UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF). This situation has limited the options available for small SGBs to attract investment funding.





Ugandan startups raised $1.275M from 10 rounds in 2020.

Access to early-stage finance beyond personal or family investments is limited.

From 2016 - 2018, Uganda’s Fintech industry had an average annual growth rate of 35%, with almost half of the nation’s approximately 80 Fintech startups operating in the payments sector. As of 2021, Uganda has a total of 155 registered Fintech players active in the country

Lack of Investment vehicles in the USD 20,000-30,000 range for high growth SGBs.

The government has funded around 4,450 projects through a youth venture capital fund that supports young individuals and groups.

Investors below ticket sizes of USD 300,000 are almost exclusively impact investors and tend to focus on specific sectors or seek firms that generate specific types of social impact.


Information and Networks



A strong presence of Innovation hubs that help sustain tech-focused SGBs.

Most of the Hubs operate largely as co-working spaces, providing little in the way of additional services to startups.

Increased number of incubator and accelerator programs that equip startups with business skills necessary to guide a new venture or scale an existing business.

Low specialization of ecosystem actors: It has been observed that the majority of the players offered almost the full range of services.


Collaboration among ecosystem actors remains weak.


Half the entrepreneurs are not connected to the ecosystem and therefore are not served by the supporting actors in the ecosystem.


Peer-to-peer learning is happening but at a sub-optimal level.


Infrastructure and Human Capital



Power concessions have improved the reliability of power and lowered its cost. Tariffs have dropped to USD $0.07 for bulk supply and USD $0.14 for end users per kilowatt-hour.

Significant skills gaps, especially in areas such as: business management, financial management, marketing & customer segmentation.

Uganda has the highest adult literacy rate in the EAC (% of people ages 15 - 24) at 89.3% compared to Kenya’s 87.8%, and Rwanda’s 86.4%.

There is a lack of accessible, affordable, and patient management training provided through accelerators, incubators, and other BDS channels.


Uganda’s weak business development service (BDS) infrastructure makes early-stage investing prohibitively costly and risky


Slow pace of technological change and innovation on account of technosocial momentum characterized by a growing digital divide


Policy and Regulation 



Relatively improved ease and cost of starting and running a business. Relatively straight forward processes on account of improved service delivery by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB)

There is no specific law, policy or regulation that offers preferential treatment specifically to startups.