6 Ugandan ESOs receive training, grant funding from Village Capital

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Six locally-led Ugandan entrepreneur support organisations (ESOs) have received training and US$200,000 in grant funding after taking part in Village Capital’s first place-based ESO training programme.

Village Capital runs a host of accelerators across Africa using its innovative peer-selection method, and recently completed its first ever place-based ESO accelerator, supporting 13 locally-led incubators, accelerators and other SGB-focused intermediaries.

The programme, Uganda Ecosystem Builders 2020, was run in partnership with the Argidius Foundation and helped the ESOs build their capacity for fundraising, strategic development, and impact. The curriculum centered around Village Capital’s ESO diagnostic tool, which helps ESOs identify a pathway to financial sustainability and impact. 

At the end of the programme, six of the 13 ESOs were chosen to receive milestone-based grant funding throughout 2021-22 to implement their strategic performance plan. Two were selected by their peers as an adaptation of Village Capital’s tested peer-selected investment process. An additional four were selected by a grant selection committee. 

The six chosen organisations were Finding XY, Goldstone Consulting, Hive Colab, Kyusa, Makerere Innovation and Incubation Centre, and StartHub Africa.

“ESOs in Uganda play a critical role in helping early-stage entrepreneurs and SMEs through programs, mentoring, and investor connections,” said Mary Mwangi, programme manager at Argidius Foundation. 

“But they often lack consistent funding, or receive restrictive grants. This programme focused on helping these leaders build their capacity to fundraise, to help them make strategic investments around team, tech, R&D, and curriculum development.” 

The programme represented the latest evolution of Village Capital’s work to support locally-led ESOs in countries around the world. Village Capital has directly supported more than 100 ESOs around the world, including 64 in Africa, since 2018. 

“Three years ago, we brought our “accelerator for accelerators” approach to Africa, with VilCap Communities Africa,” said Adedana Ashebir, Village Capital’s regional director for Africa and Middle East. “We’d learned through our work in Africa since 2012 that ESOs were effectively startups supporting other startups. This place-based programme was a chance to offer even more directed support, and in Uganda, a nation with notable entrepreneurship rates globally.”

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