In partnership with the Parliament of Uganda, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy (WFD) supported the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs (UPFYA) in organising the 2nd Annual Youth Business Forum in Uganda on 10 December 2018, as part of the CP4D programme.
The Youth Business Forum is an annual event aimed at generating an agenda for Uganda Youth Entrepreneurship growth and sustainability by building tangible partnerships between youth entrepreneurs and investors. The forum was put in place as a recommendation from the 9th Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting in 2017. The ministers emphasised the need for Commonwealth countries to commit greater human and financial resources to ensure the development and empowerment of young people, who comprise nearly one-third of the Commonwealth’s population.
The theme of this year’s Business Forum was ‘Building Strategic Partnerships for Sustainable Youth Entrepreneurship and Development in Uganda’. The forum brought together members of parliament, representatives from embassies, civil society, leading investors in Uganda and over 300 young entrepreneurs from across Uganda. The Chief Guest was the President of Uganda represented by the Speaker of Parliament of Uganda, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga.
In his opening remarks, the Country Representative WFD Uganda, Joseph Munyangabo, emphasised the need for government, private and non-profit sectors to work together to support and guide young entrepreneurs. He also pointed out that, Uganda needed an economically empowered and self-reliant youth citizenry that thrives in the areas of innovation and entrepreneurship to attain a strong and sustainable democracy.
During her key note address, the Speaker of Parliament observed that some of the young people’s issues were not being addressed because the Certificate of Financial Implication from the Ministry of Finance has not been approved. The Certificate of Financial Implication is a document signed by the Minister of Finance showing specifically how a bill will be implemented to fit into the government programmes. It avails the source of financing, the total cost needed and how it will affect the existing bud¬get. The Speaker committed to adding youth discussions related to the National Graduate Youth Scheme on the order paper to be discussed on the floor of parliament with or without the certificate.
The Speaker also highlighted the lack of finances from designated institutions. She urged government to support youth development projects through the innovations fund and close the youth financing gaps in the budget frame-work paper of 2019/2020. The speaker then commissioned a nationwide study into the state of the youth in Uganda. The study will be focused on assessing government investment in young people and the role of the private sector in youth development.
The Youth Business Forum convened a youth entrepreneur focused panel that shared their experiences and guide other young entrepreneurs. During the panel discussion, the panelists pointed out entrepreneurship challenges like high taxes which affect their business returns especially for new businesses. Muhammad Kibirige, one of the panelists, said that businesses started by youth sometimes fail because they are not formally registered and more profitable opportunities are only available to registered businesses.
The youth MP for western Uganda, Mwine Mpaka Rwamirama called on the Uganda Revenue Authority to come up with incentives and exceptions for young people in business to enable them to remain in business. He also implored the young people in business to be more vigilant in doing research to help them expand, save money and avoid pyramid scam schemes that would defraud them.