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Startups

Photos: New tech hub eyes accelerating digitization of Uganda

While current statistics indicate that there is positive growth in the startup ecosystem, the sector still faces a number of challenges, especially in developing countries, and some of these include: unfavorable government regulations, fragile judicial system (for instance intellectual property laws) and limited presence of talented human resource.

Poor communications and technological infrastructure, no social support from the government in case of failure, few quality educational institutions and financial institutions uninterested in boosting technology related ventures are also some of the major challenges.

Faced with such challenges, a few optimistic individuals and groups have come up with ideas that can help startups function and produce results to reduce on the effects of bootstrapping and keep Africa on the journey to digitisation.

One of such ideas is The Tech Hub Technology Incubator (THTI) or the Tech Hub, which is run by two companies — Techcellerate Limited (TCL) (founded by three entrepreneurs) and Ortus K Muhangi Advocates (a law firm).

Located at Park Royal Building, Plot 26 Buganda Road in Kampala – Tech Hub’s website indicates that their “core purpose is to foster innovative ideas through business incubation, technology demonstration and validation, and workforce development.”

In Uganda, there are already over twenty business hubs, providing services such as collaborative work spaces, giving startups access to a mentor base, seed funding, venture capitalists and angel investors, dedicated business training, as well as visibility via networking and pitch events.

Amidst growth of the startup ecosystem, and as a show of support to the sector, the government of Uganda is also constructing a Shs5 billion state-of-the-art National ICT Innovation Hub at the Institute of ICT, Nakawa.

Expected to house 300-400 people, the structure will be rolled out for operation this year to provide free co-working space to young innovators.

The Tech Hub

This new hub is being run by two groups of people (entrepreneurs and lawyers), which, given Uganda’s still porous judicial system and weak entrepreneurial climate, puts it at a very special advantage.

According to the hub’s website, the project owners “have a combined experience of over 30 years in legal, financial, business management and entrepreneurial solutions.”

And their target, the website shows, is to be a successful incubator of technologies and private enterprise that solve technological, legal, agricultural and social challenges.

To achieve that, they will mentor young entrepreneurs, promote their products and help them grow sustainable businesses that will improve the digitization of Uganda.

Both start-up and existing business will be considered, according to the website, as long as they reflect potential interest to the digitization of Uganda and the greater Africa.

Observing the problem of limited talented human resource to learn from, the hub has hired “competent employees to help them (startups) achieve success faster than they would have done on their own.”

Co-founder chat

One of the founders of the Tech Hub is Silver Kayondo, a seasoned lawyer who also has a reputable experience in helping startups by offering mentoring and legal support.

Speaking to this website on Tuesday, Kayondo said that the company has already registered five startups that will be benefitting from the wide-ranging services they will be providing.

One of the key challenges startups in uganda encounter is lack of formidable legal support, but according to Kayondo, the Tech Hub will offer solutions to that.


Some of the services that will be offered include helping fresh startups get incorporated and setting up necessary structures (Pictured by Tech Hub)

Some of the services that will be offered include helping fresh startups get incorporated and setting up necessary structures.

For middle stage companies, Kayondo says, they will be aided in dealing with intellectual property, copyright and trademark issues among others.

For companies that have already matured, Tech Hub will assist them in accessing venture capitalists, attracting investors and link up with the necessary network.

They will also help such companies draft necessary agreements when seeking acquisitions and mergers; this will also include negotiation of term sheets, drafting share holder and founder’s agreement, revenue sharing and employment contracts.

Kayondo also says that besides the above he, will soon roll out “a special start-up support program.”

Going out through their charge sheet, one notices that their pricing is relatively high compared to some of the existing hubs.

Defending that, Kayondo said that with the current market circumstances and given the variety of services they will be providing, it is inevitable.

“I have to recoup the investment that I have made and also make a profit,” he said, adding: “so I think the price is just fine basing on the existing market circumstances.”

A worker doing final touches on the floor of the Tech Hub (Pictured by Silver Kkayondo)

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