Why Chamber of Commerce is central to acceleration of entrepreneurship

Tuesday, November 5, 2019
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Why Chamber of Commerce is central to acceleration of entrepreneurship 

By Sabiiti M. Rwabihurwa | the renegade

The Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry was established in 1933 as a membership organization for the private sector in Uganda to promote the interests of its members. Its membership ranges from small business to multinational enterprises with a nationwide coverage.  Ugandans in general are very enterprising people and full of life when it comes to business.

The Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), ranked Uganda as the most entrepreneurial country in the World. When you move around the country, it would be difficult to ignore the entrepreneurial spirit alive in street markets and small establishments. These may be launched out of necessity, but their inspired creativity is admirable. I was recently in Arua town and the streets are full of all sorts of products on offer ranging from food stuff to clothes. From fresh food, to trinkets, to cobblers, honey makers and hand crafted furniture you will find everyone is selling something. This is not only a story of Arua but a replicate of what happens in all the towns of Uganda.

In its annual report of 2018 Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) reports that in 2018, 75814 companies were registered up from 49954 registered in 2017. This represents an increment of 25860 companies. It’s also an exponential growth in one year and reinforces the point that Ugandans are very entrepreneurial people.

This entrepreneurial spirit needs harnessing otherwise it won’t yield much in advancing economic development. It is an open secret in Uganda that many businesses don’t live to celebrate their first birthdays. The business mortality rate is very high. In fact the GEM study also showed that the rate of failure of businesses in Uganda was also one of the highest in the world, averring that for every business that was started, another closed.

The Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development attributes high rates of business failure to the lack of entrepreneurial skills, limited access to information on market opportunities and high quality and affordable business development services and lack of finance, adequate technical and management support services.

This is where Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry comes in to play an important role in bridging those gaps. With its robust nationwide network of 10 regional offices, 90 district branches and membership of over 10,000, the Chamber is well placed to address the issues that lead to high rates of business failures. The chamber boasts of a well-established secretariat that innovates to come up with tailor made interventions that help their members to beat the drop.

Armed with research findings, the chamber provides business advisory services to the business community in Uganda. This addresses the bottleneck of limited access to information on market opportunities. The chamber has also endeavored to play a major role in supporting initiatives which promote innovation and creativity amongst the youth of Uganda. Other areas which the chamber puts emphasis on include; trade facilitation, lobbying and advocacy, networking, disputes arbitration and trade facilitation.

Bringing businesses together into an umbrella creates a big platform for networking, experience sharing, information and opportunity sharing all of which are bedrocks for business growth and success.  It is critical for business people to belong to such an umbrella and the chamber must do whatever it take to reach as many businesses as possible. The Chamber should also make it easy, possible and convenient for many more business entities to attain membership in the umbrella.

 

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