Dr Barbara Ofwono Buyondo, the chairperson Uweal.

The Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Ltd (Uweal) has launched a campaign in which they seek to raise Shs25b to start a business incubator in Namanve Industrial Park.

 Dr Barbara Ofwono Buyondo, the chairperson Uweal, said the centre is meant to help women access processing technologies, access local regional and global markets among other things through processing, warehousing, packaging entrepreneurship training and ICT support.

She said with more than 4,500 members, they have failed to secure slots to be trained by the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI). UIRI is the government’s agency for incubating home-grown start-up industries.

Dr Buyondo said the available slots at UIRI were forever booked and yet government through the Ministry of Trade, has heavily invested in UIRI to develop home-grown products. 

But UIRI executive director Prof Charles Kwesiga said that they are stuck with some start-ups they started incubating as far back as 2005.

He said the start-up projects have failed to grow into self-sustaining modes because of lack of capital to finance their own factories, hire staff and buy machinery.

Since its establishment in 2006, UIRI says it has incubated 60 companies most of which are cottage industries dealing in products such as juices, leather, textiles, cosmetics, dairy processing and mushroom production among others.

Prof Kwesiga, who first introduced the idea of business incubators in the country, challenged government create special banks dedicated to lending loans to SMEs in order to break even.

 Current commercial banks’ lending rates range anywhere between 18 percent to 25 percent and when repayment of a loan takes more than two years, the borrower pays twice the amount borrowed.