UNDP, NASE Africa launch US600k funding line for budding entrepreneurs

AFRICA – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with NASE Africa has unveiled a funding line of US$600,000 for budding entrepreneurs with innovative ideas.

According to Dennis Aguma, the executive director NASE Africa, last year, the organization invited youth with scalable ideas to participate in the Youth IDEAthon Bootcamp, at Country Lake Resort, Garuga.

“The first cohort attracted over 6,500 participants through online information sessions and a total of 4,800 ideas were generated mainly from the university and technical institutions,” Aguma said.

“Over 1,000 finalists were identified by UNDP and NASE for incubation and the top 100 will receive sh100m each and the rest will receive grants of up to sh15 million.”

He added that the finalists benefited further through business workshops, mentorship and networking opportunities.

The Youth IDEAthon was organized to inspire, skill, mentor and accelerate ideas from youth across all parts of Uganda, presenting entry-level business opportunities and designed to help nurture early-stage and start-up ideas that could eventually feed into the pipeline of the UNDP Youth4Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Facility.

The initiative is expected to continue for the next five years under the key sectors of focus including agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, renewable energy, urban development, information technology, creative arts, mining and healthcare.

“Opportunity Bank Uganda Limited has opened bank accounts for each of the participants into which the funds will be now deposited directly by the donor, UNDP,” Owen Amanya, the chief executive officer, Opportunity Bank said.

“Unlike conventional bank accounts, and under the partnership between NASE and Opportunity Bank, the latter will offer Bank accounts with zero transaction fees across its channels and zero ledger fees to the entrepreneurs that are on board under the partnership, and for a minimum period of two years.”

Amanya added that the bank will secure and avail matching funding to the target beneficiaries and start-up equipment loans for qualified and skilled technical entrepreneurs to enable them to purchase the tools of trade and production necessary to start and scale enterprises.

The bank also committed to participate in financial literacy and training programmes for the youth entrepreneurs during and after the three months’ incubation period and also offer other financial services to the youth entrepreneurs under UNDP programmes.

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