The Republic of Uganda is in East Africa. Though landlocked, Uganda has access to large bodies of water; the main body of water in this case being Lake Victoria. Uganda boasts a fertile land of substantial natural resources, which also includes its largest sector of its economy, agriculture. Agriculture makes up over 80% of the work force, with coffee being its greatest export. Over the coarse of eleven years (1990-2001) Uganda has strived to improve performances based on continued investment in the rehabilitation of infrastructure, improved incentives for business owners, reduced inflation, and improving upon domestic security.
In regards to the improvement on the entrepreneurial spirit in Uganda, the current President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni, has made advancements in returning the power of commerce to the peoples of Uganda. The average age of an entrepreneur in Uganda, many of who are women, are between the ages of 30 and 40; many of who only have a high school education. 59% of these people are surveyed as being in business for making a living. According to fastcompany.com, the percentage of individuals, ages 18 to 64, active in either starting up or managing a new enterprise is 29.3% in Uganda. Books have been written, such as “How to State a Small Business in Uganda” by Salvatore Olwoc.
Though during the time of the tyrannical rule of Idi Amin, who exiled many entrepreneurs during his reign in the 1970’s today, however, culture within Uganda is diverse. Many Asians, mostly from India, live there. In the capital city of Kampala, the official language of Uganda is English, though the largest spoken language is Luganda (spoken mostly in the region of Buganda that includes Kampala). Other languages in the country are the Ateso and Kiswahili languages; Kiswahili is widely used as the language of trade in the country.
Trade continues to be encouraged and discounts for starting a business are offered by the government of Uganda. The TEA account for 2003 was 29.2, whereas in 2004 it raised to 31.6. The estimated number of start-ups and new firms in Uganda as of 2004 were 1,755,415; A slight raise of 3,982 since 2003.
- Uganda’s 2004 TEA Score (Total Entrepreneurial Activity) index was 31.6 – the highest of all countries analyzed in that year.
- Uganda’s economy has “great potential.” Agriculture is the main sector of the economy; however economical growth is driven by services and trade. Although Uganda is among the poorest countries in the world, the government has pursued economic reform policies, infrastructure projects, domestic security initiatives that have resulted in positive economic growth (avg. real rate annual growth in GDP of 6.9% over a 10 year period)
- Asian investors/entrepreneurs are returning to Uganda after being ousted during the last civil war. They are re-claiming property, re-establishing businesses and boosting the economy.
- Legal issues and lack of intellectual property rights are a concern for entrepreneurs seeking to do R&D of innovation strategies.
- Entrepreneurship is necessity based, however, there is significant opportunity based business activity; indicated by the high number of well-paid employed individuals who start their own businesses
- The majority of entrepreneurs are men between the ages of 25-34 with higher educations. However, women are very actively engaged in start up businesses and ownership.
- Culturally, business is look at with optimism and ownership is well respected.
- 50% of businesses fail; however there is a high rate of failed business owners re-starting a business within 3 years.
- Traditionally, start up businesses were not formally licensed or registered with government officials, however this is slowly changing.
- Angel investors are very common, however the amount invested in very low.
- Entrepreneurship is seen as a vital part of the nation building process that many African Nations are going through as they shed the “dependency syndrome” left by the colonial legacy systems of state enterprise, vocational education system and extreme social class stratification.
- Most Ugandans feel that entrepreneurial activity is a better way to “make a living.”
- Ugandans cite independence as a key motivating factor in starting a business.
- There is considerable potential and a wide range of opportunities, both for rural and agriculture-linked micro to small Enterprises and for linkages with small and medium enterprises competing in national, regional and international markets.
- The government is engaged in entrepreneurship development, but suffers from highly variable funding sources.