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GrowthPartners Uganda

Accelerating SME growth across Uganda through business development support standards

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Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in Uganda are faced with two major challenges when accessing Business Development Services (BDS):

Low quality of BDS provided

High pricing to access quality BDS

We know that investing in high quality BDS has the potential to accelerate MSME growth and create jobs. BDS services and providers that are compliant with world-class standards and research can spark meaningful change for Ugandan MSMEs, such as:

Ability to access services through improved affordability

Increase in MSME performance

Improvement of livelihoods for millions of Ugandan women and youth. 

Preservation and creation of jobs 

As a result, MSMEs are unwilling to invest funds into BDS, leading to further hampering development of the BDS market.  Although a number of programmes have been implemented to support the development of the BDS market in Uganda, the challenges of  BDS service provision and the lack of approved standards for BDS service providers persist. 

Seeking to address those challenges, in 2021, the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU), with the support of the Mastercard Foundation, released a call for proposals for the development of national Business Development Standards and the training of 200 Ugandan business development service providers in the standards.

Uganda’s Business Development Services market is underdeveloped and disproportionate, with a larger focus on the capital, Kampala and a few regional hubs. With few providers and lack of tailored services to meet the needs of rural entreprises, this has resulted in a marketing grappling with challenges such as:

Weak business associations that cannot effectively market BDS services

Subpar quality

Lack of national standards for BDS services delivery

Overpriced services

Limited outreach of BDS service providers to enterprises

BDS Standards


The BDS standards drafted have been informed by international best practice BDS delivery, standard expertise and the local Ugandan context. To uphold a consultative and participatory manner to the development of BDS standards, a technical working group was set up in order to fully consider the views and perspectives of key actors in the MSME Ecosystem in Uganda.

This multi-sector working group included eminent business, industry, academia, and public sector representatives in Uganda’s MSME development ecosystem.

The standards created for the delivery of business development services are:

 i) BDS Provider internal capacity guidelines

The first standard focuses on competency and internal capacity for the BDS providers, to address weak management practices within BDS provider organisations and poor investability of BDS organisations. This standard will focus on areas such as:

  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Operations
  • Resource Management

ii) BDS service delivery guidelines

This standard focuses on service delivery to provide guidelines for the effective delivery of Business Development Services to an MSME, addressing poor quality of BDS provision with gaps such as contextualisation, segmentation, specialisation among others. The standard focuses on guiding principles in key areas such as:

  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Operations
  • Talent / People
  • Money
Learn more and apply to the BDS standards training programme for individuals, companies and associations offering business development support services in Uganda.

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About the Partnership

African Management Institute (AMI)  has partnered with Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) to develop standards for the provision of Business Development Services (BDS) in Uganda.

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