By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA-SHIFTMEDIA-When the Covid19 pandemic struck last year, many business personalities were caught off guard. Majority as we speak wound up businesses and are up to something else.
The sharp ones who moved on with the tide and adopted to instant change have lived to see 2021.
But thanks to the Stanbic Business Incubator. Twesige Richard the Managing Director of ATACO Country Resort based in the Rwenzori was among the Small and Medium Enterprise business guys who was badly hit by the pandemic. To be precise, he closed business and had no idea what other business he would adapt to.
His grief and sorrow turned into happiness after he decided to join scores of other SMEs to engage in the Stanbic Business Incubator.
For months Twesige and other 351 SMEs engaged in online lessons where they were taught to adapt to the pandemic and move on.
The Head of the Stanbic Bank Business Incubator Tony Okao Otoa said: “The year 2020 taught us all one thing, to survive. If you are a businessman or woman and are alive today, 2021, then you surely survived, and that is what mattered last year.”
Okao who speaks with pomp was addressing a small gathering of successful graduands who completed the Stanbic Business Incubator training. He told the graduands at their Kololo based offices, and scores of others online that since they started the incubator in 2018, the climb hasn’t been an easy task.
“Majority kept asking us, why bother- mufinirawa– because the bank injects in over USD$3,000 (Ugx11m) yet we do this absolutely free, but we kept our stand,” he said.
He said when Covid19 struck, they were the first institution to start an online course. “Today we are proud as we usher in 352 SMEs across the country with fresh business ideas.” Said Otoa.
He said they had seen amazing business ideas, but not formalized. The task, he said was to help the thousands of Ugandans with nice innovations and business ideas get formalized after linking them to URSB.
Speaking about leadership, Otoa urged the graduands to be exemplary. ‘As leaders you have be innovative and creative. Create markets,” he said.
Emma Mugisha the Executive Director Stanbic Bank Uganda urged the graduands to move with the pace as they start the journey of growth.
“It is curiosity that will keep you moving. Lets continue the learning culture, and support one another,” she said.
John Walugembe the Executive Director Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises (FSMEs)in Uganda hailed Stanbic Business Incubator for coming in to support the SMEs.
He said FSMEs has over 112, 000 registered members across 20 sectors in Uganda.
“We might be small as SMEs in Uganda, but have a voice that must be heard. We must also seat on the table with the ‘Big’ guys,” he said. Walugembe said the SMEs account for over 70% the countrys’ economy and contribute over 20% of the GDP.
Elizabeth Mugumya, from Capital Law,one of the implementing partener hailed the graduands for enduring amidst the pandemic.
Joel Bamwise, the Stanbic Business Incubator Business manager said this was the 5th graduation they were conducting since 2016.
“We have so far held 16 cohorts, and each cohort has 50 participants. In cohort 12 we had 45 SMEs and 62 participants,”he said.
Among the SMEs that graduated were Hervey Holdings Limited, Cornerstone, Royal way Media and Kwanza Communications.
Present was the Head MasterCard Foundation Uganda Samuel Adele who hailed the SMEs who have managed to make it today despite the challenges brought in by Covid19.