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ITC and KOSME launch Youth Start-up Academy to improve start-up ecosystem in Uganda


The International Trade Centre (ITC) and Korea SMEs and Startups Agency (KOSME) have launched a Youth Start-up Academy Uganda project.

The project will incubate 1,000 young entrepreneurs and improve the start-up ecosystem in Uganda to increase youth employment and boost businesses.

“The Youth-Start Up Academy has a very ambitious goal. We want to incubate the first Ugandan unicorn start-up. This is not going to be easy. But by joining forces with our partners, we believe that we can do it. The Youth Start-up Academy in the Republic of Korea has already incubated two unicorns, and a Ugandan start-up supported by ITC in previous projects has reached the pre-unicorn level.” Dorothy Tembo, Deputy Executive Director, International Trade Centre

Participating entrepreneurs will benefit from a three-stage incubation programme, access a fully equipped business creation facility including co-working spaces, IT room and maker spaces, the opportunity to widen their business networks, and develop joint ventures with local, regional and international start-ups.

The young entrepreneurs who will participate in the 1st round of incubation, were recruited during the official opening ceremony held in Kampala, while 10 entrepreneurs had the chance to pitch their business model in front of judges at an investment relation pitching competition. The programme will start in the second half of 2022.

With today’s launching ceremony, KOSME expects it to be the motive for fostering promising Ugandan young entrepreneurs and the starting point of sustainable partnership

The Youth Start-up Academy Uganda follows the success of the same programme in the Republic of Korea, implemented by KOSME. Since its start, the programme supported the creation of almost 4,800 start-ups, including two unicorns with a current market valuation that exceeds $1 billion. The Youth-Start-up Academy project in Uganda is a joint effort between ITC, KOSME, the National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) and Hive Colab, a co-working space in Kampala.

Hatwib Mugasa, Executive Director of NITA-U, H.E. Chris Baryomunsi, Minister for ICT & National Guidance Uganda and H.E. Sung-soo Park, Ambassador at the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Uganda participated in the ceremony to congratulate the project launch and pledge their support.

Uganda is a rising star in the African start-up ecosystem. The country’s young population and fast-growing IT infrastructure are the main drivers of the Ugandan ecosystem development. Especially Uganda’s Fintech industry shows 35% of annual growth from 2016 to 2018. Despite the vitality of the ecosystem and the success of the fintech sector, a significant number of entrepreneurs from all sectors continue to face serious difficulties in transforming their business ideas to viable and scalable businesses. Ensuring that these entrepreneurs have access to the right support in a structure that is ready to nurture their ideas and help them grow, is the project’s goal.