Accelerating SME growth across Uganda through business development support standards

BDS Standards

The Business Development Standards (BDS) 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, from institutions such as:

  • Ministry of Trade and Cooperatives
  • Mastercard Foundation
  • Enterprise Uganda
  • Uganda National Bureau of Standards
  • Business Development Service Providers’ Network
  • Makerere University Business School (MUBS)
  • Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development
  • Institute of Corporate Governance
  • Uganda Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Initiative (UEEI)/ANDE

Two foundational BDS standards were produced:

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.

Uganda’s Business Development Services market has a larger focus on the capital, Kampala and a few regional hubs, leading to a disproportionate market with gaps. With few providers and lack of tailored services to meet the needs of rural enterprises, the market can face challenges such as:

Inability to afford BDS services

Ineffective market for promotion of BDS services

Limited outreach of BDS service providers to enterprises

As a result, MSMEs can struggle 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. 

To address challenges faced by MSMEs in accessing business development services (BDS), the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) in partnership with Mastercard Foundation and African Management Institute (AMI) have collaborated to develop national BDS standards and offer business development service providers with training to increase their capacity to serve MSMEs.

We know that investing in high-quality BDS can accelerate MSME growth and create jobs. BDS services and providers compliant with world-class standards and research can spark meaningful change for Ugandan MSMEs, such as increase in MSME performance, preservation and creation of jobs, and improved livelihoods. BDS providers can also experience benefits such as:

Sharpened skills through standards dissemination and training

Improved income opportunities

Quality standardized services that MSMEs are willing to pay for

About the Partnership

The Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) in partnership with Mastercard Foundation and African Management Institute (AMI) developed draft national Business Development Services (BDS) standards and will build capacity of BDS providers to serve MSMEs. This intervention is aimed at improving technical support to MSMEs, which are critical for economic growth and job creation.