Starting a business anywhere is difficult, but an emerging market faces unique and particularly challenging hurdles. Uganda is the most entrepreneurial country in the world, but common difficulties such as funding and finding talent keep businesses from becoming sustainable. At first, Teddy Ruge struggled to keep his business, Raintree Farms, going. “When you’re too early as an African startup, you won’t get a lot of people paying attention to you,” he says. Raintree Farms processes the medicinal plant Moringa Oleifera. It took funding from an angel investor to get it off the ground.
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The Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) wants startups to thrive in Uganda so they can create opportunities and help alleviate poverty. In March, ANDE launched the Uganda Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Initiative. Working with other leading businesses in Uganda, ANDE is investigating the current business landscape and coming up with a strategy for how to tackle the barriers that keep a company from growing. “If you can create companies that can thrive, they will create jobs and those jobs will be better opportunities than the ones that currently exist for poor people in developing countries,” says ANDE Director Randall Kempner. The hope is the methodology and strategy that emerge from the Initiative will be used in other emerging markets around the world. Phase I of ANDE’s Initiative wrapped up September. Phase II, which will work to implement the findings from Phase I, will begin later this year.
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