Daniel Bukenya, the Managing Director at Goldstone Enterprise Consulting & Training
Entrepreneurs from the renewable energy, water and sanitation, agribusiness and education sectors have an opportunity to apply for the Small and Growing Business Accelerator programme which entails coaching, mentorship, capacity building and access to finance. The programme which was launched this month is meant to support businesses to be more articulate and confident in raising funds, especially those that have been affected by the covid-19 pandemic.
Daniel Bukenya, the Managing Director atGoldstone Enterprise Consulting & Training, the company behind this initiative, exclusively talks to Business Focus, about the programme and how entrepreneurs will benefit from it. Below are the excerpts of the interview;
Qn: Briefly tell me about Small and Growing Business Accelerator programme?
A: The Small and Growing accelerator programme is a Goldstone Consulting Programme designed to prime Small and Growing businesses (SGBs), making them more resilient in terms of operational excellence as well as preparing them to be more articulate about their financial needs when engaging financiers.
We are also focusing on business leadership because we believe a business is as good as its leadership. The Goldston Small and Growing Business Accelerator covers this and more.
Qn: What prompted you to come up with this programme?
A: There has been an outcry by SGBs on matters pertaining access to appropriate financing, with financiers on the other hand claiming that there is no worthwhile pipeline in the sector. This divide has been widened by the effects of covid 19. Our solution is providing preparatory services in the programme to SGBs, for them to be more confident in making data-backed decisions, as well as making them more articulate when engaging financiers. At the end of the programme, we hope to bridge the divide between the two sectors, and to have better led and better managed SGBs. The mid to long term result of our work will include creation and sustenance of dignified jobs, more beneficiaries to what the SGBs have to offer, and growth in the sizes of the businesses. This is expected to be driven by access to appropriate financing.
Qn: Who qualifies to apply and benefit from this program?
A: We are looking at a business that is at least two years old, a business which can absorb $20,000 – $300,0000 in fixed asset and working capital finance. It should have 5 – 100 employees and it should definitely be formal.
It should also have audited or management accounts or both and should have engaged leaders/owners.
Qn: How many entrepreneurs are you targeting?
A: We are targeting 12 businesses to go through the first cohort. We will have two cohorts per annum.
Qn: Business financing remains a big challenge in Uganda. Interest rates are quite high. What plans do you have to extend affordable credit to these entrepreneurs?
A: Goldstone is building a network of impact investors, patient capital financers whose drive is not return on capital, but impact created by the business financed, as well as business growth. The challenges of high interest remain despite a monetary policy geared at reduction of bank interest rates. This is bound to be sustained during the global Covid crisis. However, the situation is not permanent and it is bound to ease. It is important that the ease finds the business prepared and not scampering to find its footing in the new realities.
Qn: A number of programs like this aren’t practical. How practical will this program be?
A: This programme seeks businesses that are already operating and dealing in real life situations. We hope to bring onboard guest speakers who have had the same or similar experiences with the entrepreneurs and as such are relatable. The sessions will be mostly practical and geared at solving real problems and challenges faced by participating businesses.
Qn: Who are your key partners?
Our partners include Argidius Foundation, VIllage Capital, Facts Africa and GroFin Uganda.
Qn: Your last word…
A: Don’t stay in the comfort of the harbour when you are meant to be in the high seas, get on board your ship and be the captain. We are here to show you the way as you navigate the murky waters of entrepreneurship.