Businessmen Mentor Uganda’s young entrepreneurs


The Mara Foundation has launched a new initiative to link young entrepreneurs in Uganda with well-established business leaders in order to increase productivity and innovation in the African country.

“We will ensure each relationship is closely monitored for hard evidence of change. If we have even 10 people demonstrating change as a result of the program, that will tell its own story about the importance of the mentorship in business,” said Nigel Ball, director at Mara Foundation.

The Entrepreneur Launch Pad is meant to deal with one of the biggest reasons why many Ugandan small and medium firms never live to celebrate their first anniversary – limited management skills.

The launch attracted 25 successful businessmen who were paired with upcoming entrepreneurs for three-minute ‘speed dates.’

Top businesspeople were able to pick the people they will mentor. Among the businessmen were Philippe Luxey, Orange Telecom’s CEO; Ashish Thakkar, Mara Group’s MD; and Select Garment’s Robert Ahimbisibwe.

According to Thakkar, a role model to young entrepreneurs having built Mara Group into a global brand before the age of 30, making a business survive is one thing but making it thrive and grow to the next level is another thing.

“For a newcomer, business can be a minefield,” he said, adding, “many good intentioned young people, who jump into it, are eaten by lions and serpents and their dreams soon collapse; yet the survival of their small to medium sized businesses would mean more skills, jobs, taxes and empowerment and, therefore, a changed Uganda.”

By Johnathan Terry