A Cavendish University Bachelor of Laws student, Ritah Nagudi was among the 78 entrepreneurs who received seed funding at this year’s NSSF Hi-innovator pitch day which was held from 03rd to 04th October 2022. Ritah, a third year student at Cavendish University Uganda (CUU) is also a Tanya Innovations Africa member.
Rita Nagudi pitched her business in light manufacturing where she processes and packages blended herbal teas under the brand name “pumzi”. The teas are a blend of herbs, fruits and spices that bring to the market a healthy cup of tea. She intends to use the seed funding to scale up the business where she envisions creating job opportunities to about 5000 youth and 10,000 women over a period of 5 years in growing and processing of the variety of herbs and spices.
“The Hi innovator academy has been beneficial to my business and has taught me to position my products amidst the competition.” Ritah attested. The flexibility of online learning at Cavendish University has also enabled me to jungle school and business.”
Through business associations like Tanya Innovation Africa, Ritah Nagudi opened her mind to the power of networking and a desire to make a contribution to the Africa we want to project. Her constant search of knowledge and resources on the internet led her to the Hi innovator academy.
The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) in partnership with Mastercard Foundation awarded UGX5.9 billion as seed funding to Ugandan small and growing businesses through their Hi-innovator Programme. This brings the total of businesses funded to 110 since the Hi-Innovator Programme was launched in May 2021, totalling UGX 10.5 billion in seed funding.
The Hi-Innovator Programme is an initiative by NSSF in partnership with Mastercard Foundation that aims to create an eco-system where indigenous Small and Growing Businesses can be supported to mature into viable businesses.
The winners were selected from over 6,300 entrepreneurs that had enrolled in the programme’s learning platform dubbed the NSSF Hi-Innovator Business Academy, an online self-directed platform where entrepreneurs obtained foundational business knowledge over the last three months.
Following a weeklong boot camp, 103 entrepreneurs were then shortlisted to pitch their ideas to an investment committee that included seasoned entrepreneurs and investors. The businesses were from five sectors including agriculture, digital economy, fashion and beauty, health, and light manufacturing.
Speaking at the awarding ceremony, Patrick Ayota, the NSSF Deputy Managing Director expressed that, “It is gratifying to see that the number of businesses we are supporting this year through the Hi-Innovator Programme has increased from 32 to 78. This is an indication that we have more innovative ideas and possible scalable businesses to support in growth”
The successful businesses were assessed using a criterion that included the potential for scalability, sustainability, good governance, and impact on the community.
“The achievements we have seen in the programme so far give us confidence in this partnership with the NSSF. Through this programme, we believe that we are on the right track to attaining our ambitious goal of creating over 132,000 employment opportunities for youth and women in the country,” said Arnold Byarugaba, Mastercard Foundation’s Lead Micro, Small and Medium-sized enterprises for Uganda
Richard Zulu, Founding Partner and Team Lead at Outbox Uganda which is the implementing partner for the Hi-innovator programme, attributed the programme’s success to the partnership-led approach with several other ecosystem players who provide technical assistance and mentorship which unlocks affordable financing for entrepreneurs at scale.
The selected businesses will now undergo a due diligence process and will be supported by other partner innovation hubs in the next four months to enable them address business hurdles.