On Tuesday December 12th 2017, Uganda Development Bank Limited (UDBL) in partnership with the RAN Innovation lab launched the UDB i-Growth Accelerator 2017. This is an initiative that will foster Innovation and Entrepreneurship through the recognition, promotion, reward, incubation and acceleration of outstanding start-up enterprises.

“The i-Growth Accelerator program will be an annual initiative that will support individuals to grow and expand their start-up enterprises in all sectors” remarked Ms. Patricia Ojangole the CEO of UDBL.

For 2017, the Accelerator will focus on the Agriculture and Manufacturing sectors under the theme; ‘Towards a Smart and Sustainable Agricultural and Manufacturing Sector’.

Uganda’s Vision 2040 identifies agriculture as a strategic opportunity that requires harnessing to maximize returns to the country’s economy, an objective which aligns with the Bank’s development strategy. Consequently the Awards are focusing on supporting initiatives in the sector of Agriculture and Manufacturing.  Agriculture, if well harnessed will bolster the country’s economy. By 2007 the sector accounted for 47 percent of total export earnings. Its contribution to the GDP has been declining but remains very important to provide a basis for growth in other sectors.

UDB i-Growth Accelerator is aimed at facilitating sustainable growth of the economy by supporting commercialization of local start-ups.

More specifically, the UDB i-Growth Accelerator aims to:

1)    Identify , recognize and accelerate outstanding innovative start-ups and support them to commercialization

2)    To inspire, stimulate and create a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by nurturing creativity from an early age.

3)    To link successful ventures to investment opportunities that will support their scaling

Prof Bazeyo during his keynote address alluded that the RAN Innovation lab has been engaging in innovation activities for the past 5 years galvanizing a diverse array of stakeholders from private and public sectors to support innovation. To date the lab has a portfolio of over 200 funded and non-funded innovations that have been supported.

We want to position Uganda as the Silicon Valley of Africa because we have the potential” Prof Bazeyo remarked.

We believe through this joint initiative we will support commercialization of local start-ups and stimulate a culture of innovation in Uganda so as to contribute to the country’s social economic development.  We have capacity building programs that were developed in partnership with Stanford University that we tailor for different innovators, which we anticipate to avail to the participating teams to polish their skills and help them commercialize their start-ups and a dynamic team at RAN lab that is well versed with innovation, community engagement, business and entrepreneurial skills.

This partnership comes in timely, since the Uganda Development Bank Limited (UDB), developed a medium term strategy for the Bank to reposition itself as a partner to the Government of Uganda in driving sustainable socio-economic development in the country. And some of the practical initiatives to drive development will be to spur innovation and entrepreneurship.

UDB i-Growth Accelerator 2017 is open to interested applicants from diverse backgrounds and disciplines who propose brilliant projects in relation to the theme. Submissions can be done in teams or individuals like youth groups, community based organizations, vocational institutes, students, young entrepreneurs, NGOs, women groups, associations, SMEs etc.. Projects should suggest transformative interventions or solutions. Some of the benefits to the winning Teams will be Seed funding, Technical support, Mentorship and Business Coaching, Linkages to local, regional and international expertise and contacts, Linkages to potential investors and financiers.

Additional Benefits

 In addition to the Award package, the winner/s also have a chance to be considered far debt or equity funding from UDBL. UDBL provides project finance with a minimum of UGX 100 Million (www.udbl.co.ug).

For more details about the UDB i-Growth Accelerator 2017 and to apply please visit; www.grants.ranlab.org