GIST IHub: Uganda - The Innovation Village

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The Innovation Village in Uganda joined the GIST Network I-Hub initiative to provide more opportunities for its entrepreneurs. Through direct access to new knowledge and new thinking from the Network, the Innovation Village is improving its own approach and practices to ecosystem building.


At a Glance:

I-Hub: The Innovation Village


Location: Kampala, Uganda

Startups: 130 startups totaling more than 2,000 entrepreneurs, and 40 percent of their entrepreneurs are young women

Sectors: EdTech, Climate, Media, FinTech and Agribusiness



A Closer Look at the Innovation Village:

According to research by the Approved Index, Uganda is ranked number one as the most entrepreneurial country. But according to the Innovation Village located in Kampala, Uganda, the country’s startup ecosystem is still relatively young and lacks support entrepreneurs need to succeed. In particular, the Ugandan ecosystem lacks access to capital and investors, market maturity, and experience helping entrepreneurs start and scale. As a result, the incubator said up to 95 percent of new ventures in Uganda die within the first year of operation.

But Uganda’s population is young and, according to the Innovation Village, optimistic about the future of entrepreneurship in the country. This energy is what the Kampala-based incubator is hoping to capitalize on, creating programs and opportunities that help young entrepreneurs overcome the challenges facing their young ecosystem. In order to make sure its entrepreneurs are getting the best resources possible, the Innovation Village partnered with the GIST Network to become one of eight Innovation Hubs (I-Hubs) in 2018.

“As much as we are ecosystem builders for innovators and entrepreneurs, we do not have the depth in terms of experience or diversity in terms of the various fields relevant for our community,” said CK Japheth, team leader of the Innovation Village. “We see the GIST Network as a path to this experience through their various pathways and learning opportunities.”

As an I-Hub, the Innovation Village will work with the GIST Network to design and build strong and vibrant networks in the Ugandan ecosystem. The Innovation Village will also work with the GIST Network to provide its entrepreneurs more global opportunities to learn and collaborate.


Innovation Village Updates:

Innovation Village Opens Second Location

The Innovation Village opened the Innovation Bureau to converge partners that wanted to co-locate with innovators. Launched on the belief that creativity will attract creativity, the bureau is now home to local, regional and global companies co-locating with early stage and growth companies. In 2017, companies such as Challenges Worldwide, InnovateUG, LeO Africa, Xente, Sellio, Kola Studios, Moquid, EnVenture, Growth Africa, Milima Technologies FinAfrica and Andela all co-located with Innovation Bureau startups. The partnerships helped spark activity that helped these companies meet their mandates.


Building Digital Solutions for Refugees

In collaboration with UNCDF, MercyCorps and Dan Church Aid, the Innovation Village created Hack4Refugees. The program builds digital solutions for refugees and host communities. Since the program began, 10 solutions have been identified and are growing through the 100IDEASAccelerator program.


Foorloop Kampala Continues to Grow

The Innovation Village opened a local chapter of Foorloop Africa called Foorloop Kampala. The local chapter hopes to build a community of passionate developers in Uganda. Foorloop Africa already has a growing base of more than 6,000 developers.


Encouraging Investments in Local Startups

With a shortage of capital for Entrepreneurs in Uganda, the Innovation Village piloted the Kampala Angel Investment Network, which was able to attract 10 investors who are now ready to explore the possibilities of investing in local startups in Uganda.


Data Hack 4 Financial Inclusion Returns for Season 2

After Season 1 of Data Hack 4 Financial Inclusion raised $100,000 and created partnerships that went on to scale, the program will return for a second season that will focus on FSPs, FinTech and the role of Data Science. Program partners include the Innovation Village, I2I, UNCDF and FSDU.


Kampala Innovation Week

The first ever Kampala Innovation Week was launched by multiple accelerators and incubators in the region, which included partners such as the Innovation Village, Design Hub, Outbox and Education Reach Uganda. The week focuses on bringing together ecosystem partners in the region.


National Recognition for Two Innovation Village Members

Two entrepreneurs from the Innovation Village won national recognition in 2017:

Evelyn Namara won Outstanding Woman in Innovation, Agribusiness App at the MTN Innovation Awards, ans Allan Rwakatungu won at the ACIA Awards for Xente, a startup that is working toward building a cashless Uganda.


Photo Credit: The Innovation Village

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