By Simplisio Ariho, Team Lead, Info-Code (U) Ltd
Unemployment has reached unprecedented levels across the globe as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the most hit continent is arguably Africa. As a matter of fact, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment in Africa especially among the youth was hardly above acceptable levels.
Every year, universities in Africa churn out graduates who end up unemployed. As finalists, we did not anticipate that ours would be a different outcome. So, immediately after graduation from Uganda Technology and Management (UTAMU), as a group of fresh graduates, we decided to employ ourselves by starting Info-Code. Info-Code a company which aims to digitize businesses was incorporated in September 2016.
As you might know, nurturing a business start-up in Uganda is not easy as many of them don't even make it to their 2nd anniversary. Fortunately, we at Info-Code have been resilient, clocking 4 years and still growing strong. However, we looked over our 4 year journey, reminiscing what has gone well but also re-evaluating and establishing ways we can fly as a company. It was through this process that we considered a place where we can interact with fellow entrepreneurs, researchers, mentors to name but a few. A place we can call home. We needed to belong to an entrepreneurship ecosystem for us to be able to be nurtured to maturity. UTAMURIC, a startup and innovation ecosystem that has come just in time for the leap we needed, is where we are now proud to call home.
To take you back, Info-Code was founded after attending an inspirational talk from different entrepreneurs at UTAMU like Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba (Chairperson of the UTAMURIC Board), Dr. Johnson Mwebaze and Dr. Drake Mirembe. Their inspiration was fundamental, and working with them again through UTAMURIC will not just bring us mentors but also mentorship from the best. We see a bright future for ourselves and after all, they say your network is your net worth.
Over the past four years, we have done research about the impact of Information Technology and its future in Africa. We realized that it will be among the most needed sectors in the world in a few years to come. It is the future. This is how we started our company. We were propelled to start at a lower level, providing simple solutions like website development and digital marketing for different companies. However, we have now taken it a notch higher, researching and designing an innovation that we think can revolutionize East Africa. This will be our first innovation, a transport app called Hi-Bus that will help people to ease their means of accessing transport.
Transport in Uganda alone is manifested with a lot of challenges that include congestion, wrong destinations, wastage of time, theft and lack of efficient means of moving from one place to another. Our innovation is a solution to such challenges and more, in an easy, simple and affordable way.
The innovators at Info-Code have already designed a demo on how the app will work. However, there’s still need for more investment in order to bring out the picture of this disruptive innovation in East Africa. In addition to mentorship and coaching, we hope UTAMURIC shall assist us in mobilizing equity and other resources required to put our product on the market. We need an investment worth USD 40,000 to be able to bring this innovation to life as well as handle marketing & entry strategies which will include publicity and partnerships. We plan to scale up this idea in East African Countries first and then expand, establish more partnerships and regions after market entry. We believe Africa is a land full of opportunities but we are just limited by resources to make our dreams come true.
To other young entrepreneurs, we encourage you to make UTAMURIC your home too so that you can be nurtured through mentorship, coaching and technical support as well as access to other services offered by the ecosystem.