Helping owners of social enterprises and micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) understand how to source financing is a vital factor for the sustainable growth of their businesses.
Under the theme, ‘Building access to finance ecosystem for MSMEs and Social enterprises’, the Nairobi-based Strathmore Global Institute hosted its first ever Annual MSME and Social Enterprise Conference in Kampala on January 30.

A diverse gathering of entrepreneurs, industry experts, and thought leaders from across East Africa, discussed the challenges and opportunities for MSMEs and social enterprises to access financing post Covid-19. Participants also had an opportunity to gain valuable insights, network with peers, and explore potential collaborations.

There was also a presentation on The Sisters Blended Value Project (SBVP) which is funded by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and implemented by Strathmore University Business.
This successful social enterprise involves training and equipping Catholic nuns to transform their social ministries into sustainable social enterprises. The project is being implemented in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania.

During a panel discussion, Tony Otoa, the Chief Executive of the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited (SBIL) said SBIL had recently launched a catalytic fund that is aimed at solving specific problems for social enterprises and small enterprises.

He said access to finance for small business owners, can be improved by evidence of a good saving culture. He said the quarterly Business Advisory Boards hosted by SBIL, can also help improve governance structures in preparation for these businesses to access available funding options.

He said, “We need to step out of our comfort zones to see what’s out there and daily working on our businesses to make things better. This exposure allows you to see what opportunities are out there. Collaboration is now the new normal. In order to learn, share in others’ success stories and experiences. It is also important to seek support from Incubation centres, like the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited, which has many programs relevant to your business growth. SBIL has also established useful partnerships and supporting ecosystems.”
Dr. Edward Isingoma Matsiko, the Managing Director Pearl Capital Partners, said entrepreneurs should incorporate social impact into their business models as a way to tap into the numerous finance options that cater for social impact.

He said, “Tagging social enterprises as NGO’s robs them of a chance to be sustainable and grow into scalable businesses.”

He said such factors as proof of concept and profitability, together with proper governance structures can make it easier for social enterprises and MSMEs to access financing.

Angela Bageine, a Board Member, at the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) said small business owners should stop working and thinking in silos. “Everyone is attempting get into business and yet have an individualistic mindset. This mentality hinders you from scaling up for better and bigger opportunities,” she said.

She encouraged entrepreneurs to seek out collaborations even with their competitors as a way to reduce the barriers to accessing finance.

The conference received overwhelming positive feedback from attendees, with many expressing appreciation for the diverse perspectives shared and the actionable insights gained.

Strathmore Global Institutes looks forward to building on the success of this inaugural event and continuing to focus on providing locally relevant solutions in an ever changing global environment.

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