The theme of this year’s Kampala Innovation Week was Financing Uganda’s Innovation Ecosystem. The event which was held on 20-24 August 2018 focused on highlighting the role of capital in stimulating entrepreneurship and also discovering various ways in which industry players might collaborate with entrepreneurs and SMEs.

Innovators were treated to roundtable and influencer sessions which were held throughout the five days on subjects like Health tech, Fintech  Artificial Intelligence, Agriculture, Growth hacking, Cloud Technologies, VR, Data, Branding, Media, Product Development and Funding

Dr. Karanja was part of a panel led by ANDE's: Khatuchi Khasandi. Their discussion was on Enterprise Acceleration: Lessons and opportunities from Uganda Practitioners based on the Global Accelerator Learning Initiative Report (GALI).

The report from GALI examines the ability of accelerators to drive funds into participating ventures and explores which programmatic choices correspond with superior outcomes.

The panelist agreed that there was a link between the outcomes and the quality of the entrepreneur adding that mentorship plays a big role in building capacity, training and ultimately getting superior venture outcomes.

Some of the elements they also attributed to superior performance include emphasizing access to other entrepreneurs, providing guaranteed investments, and focusing on women and minority applicants.

Dr. Kevin Muite, Villgro Kenya Investment Manager, highlighted the need for proper organization of linkages to bring together innovators, developers and investors.

"What can be done to bridge the evident gap between the talent, innovators, developers and investors? The pull is huge however the conversations and linkages are still not properly set up.”

Some of the key expectations from investors included mentorship. “Don’t just give us money, give us extra support in areas where companies have capacity gap.” A participant engaged the panel.

Key learning points for the attendees included how to raise capital for their start-ups, what investors look for before investing in a company and the importance of understanding the problem your innovation seeks to solve.