Hi-Innovator Program (“Hi-Innovator” or “the Initiative”) is an initiative of the National Social Security Fund (“NSSF” or “the Fund”) that looks to support Uganda’s Small & Growing Businesses (“SGBs”) that demonstrate potential for scale and economic impact with convertible grants, technical assistance, market linkages, access to business development support services and follow-on financing from a network of financing institutions and investors.
Our definition of a Small and Growing Business is a commercially viable, high growth potential business employing between 2 and 100 people and seeking growth capital of at least UGX 75 Million to UGX 7.5 Billion. This definition includes existing SMEs that are focused on attaining growth that in turn leads to job creation and start-ups that are focused on testing and achieving new business models to operate at scale. It also includes businesses that seek to create social impact in low-income communities at scale while generating a financial return known as social businesses and those that deliberately create employment or offer services to low income or underserved populations as part of their business strategy, even if they do not have a social mission (inclusive businesses)1.
Participation in Hi-Innovator constitutes the contestant’s full consent to these terms and conditions. The organizer’s decisions are final and binding.
Participating in Hi-Innovator and (if the organizers choose to offer one) winning convertible grants support (as further defined below) is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements set forth in these terms and conditions and entering into further agreements.
National Social Security Fund
14th Floor, Workers House
Plot 1, Pilkington Road
P.O Box 7140, Kampala, Uganda
Lead Implementing Partner
Outbox (U) Ltd
4th Floor, Soliz House,
Lumumba Avenue, Kampala, Uganda
An applicant that meets the conditions set out in this document.
You must be over 18 years of age at the time of the application and fluent in English.
You can commit full-time to your business. If you are a student or employee, you must be willing to make your organisation your full-time engagement once you qualify for the accelerator.
You must be a primary decision maker and have the authority to determine the growth and strategic direction of your business.
You must be a Ugandan national OR a non-national currently living and working in Uganda with up-to-date work permits. Non-Ugandans should be running a business that includes a Ugandan in an ownership and decision-making role to be considered.
Pre-accelerator eligibility criteria
The pre-accelerator is geared towards providing foundational business knowledge to entrepreneurs to enable them to address some gaps in their businesses. It is the first step in the Hi-innovator initiative. It consists of a self-directed online learning platform with applied exercises to enable you to apply the skills you are learning to your business. The pre-accelerator enables entrepreneurs to prepare for the next phase of support known as the accelerator. Every potential applicant must participate in the pre-accelerator.
This phase of the initiative is open to:
Individuals who are interested in starting a business or those who have a small and growing business.
Accelerator business eligibility criteria
The accelerator is a six-month business support process where you receive grant funding, technical assistance, business development, business training and market development support to enable you to grow your business. It is the second phase in your Hi-innovator journey.
The initiative will only accept businesses of at least 2 founding individuals. A business of one founding individual will not be considered.
Your product or service should be targeted for implementation in any of the districts of Uganda, or within the East African region with potential for scale-up.
The Hi-Innovator initiative requires founder participation. All founding team members must commit to fully participate in at least 90% of the scheduled learning labs, and mentorship sessions in the initiative. Founding team members not fully committed to the initiative will not be accepted in the initiative, and their removal may render the remaining team ineligible for the program.
You must have a fully registered business with Uganda Registry Services Bureau (URSB), Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and The National Social Security Fund (NSSF).
The business should have been legally and actively operational for at least two years and should not have raised more than UGX 1 billion in either grant, convertible grants, venture capital or Private Equity at the time of submission.
The business should at least have launched a product or service to market and received early customer feedback with some revenue (at least UGX 20 Million in the previous two years).
Only applications that have evidence of completion of the pre-accelerator phase of the initiative and have applied through the Hi-Innovator Idea Management System web portal shall be considered. At least two members of a business should have completed the pre-accelerator.
Only businesses that have received a recommendation from an implementing partner hub and completed their due diligence can apply to the accelerator.
Neither your business nor individual members of its founding team can already have been accepted into the Hi-innovator accelerator in an earlier call for applications
A business can be structured as a for-profit or non-profit limited by guarantee. It cannot be an NGO.
Research projects, faith-based institutions, political organisations, community-based organisations, associations of entrepreneurs are not eligible to apply.
Only a single applicant from a business is eligible to apply. However, a business does not need to be run by only one individual.
The business must be fully operating in the focus sector of the accelerator at the time of the application.
The funding provided under Hi-innovator is a convertible grant. The business owners/founding members must be willing to sign an agreement with NSSF that provides the right to exercise a 6% equity ownership in the business within 3 years. The NSSF equity stake will be reducible by 1% up to a limit of 2% for every USD 100,000 (or its equivalence in Uganda shillings) the business may raise in additional funding that may help it to grow and scale.
Businesses that are women-owned/led OR have at least 50% staff women representation OR have a product or service that predominantly addresses women’s needs as consumers OR predominantly provide employment for women in their value chain are strongly encouraged to apply
Employees of NSSF, Outbox, other selected partner entrepreneurship support organisations and any individual involved in the Hi-Innovator program design, production, promotion, execution, distribution and any such individual’s immediate family or household, are not eligible to participate in this initiative.
Calls for applications will be publicly announced through various media as determined by the Programme. Participants may enter an application between the dates specified in each call.
General Requirements for Admission into the Hi-Innovator initiative
By applying to Hi-Innovator, all applicants agree to adhere to any local and international laws, rules, and regulations to which they are bound. They also agree to adhere to any professional rules of engagement and code of ethics as demanded by their industry or profession to which they are subscribed. A breach of any of these may constitute disqualification in addition to the matter being reported to the respective authorities for investigation.
A business will provide evidence that at least two of its members completed the pre-accelerator. The business must have completed a pre-accelerator due-diligence process and received a recommendation from a partner hub to apply to the accelerator.
A business may enter only one application per cohort call into the accelerator and any duplicate application may be subject to disqualification.
Your application must be submitted through the Hi-innovator website and idea management system. Applications received by email, WhatsApp or in-person will not be accepted.
You may only submit one application. Any applicant who submits multiple applications for the same business in the same application cycle will be automatically disqualified from consideration.
If a team member is a member of more than one business that has applied to the program, the applications/businesses must be substantially different from other applications the individual is involved in, and, depending on the level of engagement involved by the affected team member(s) in each business, the affected team member(s) may be required to focus on only one business for the purposes of this program.
An application may be rejected at the sole discretion of the Organizers for any reason, including but not limited to; if the application, either in part or in its entirety, is deemed to be obscene, defamatory, likely to incite violence or illegal activity, in violation of any third-party’s rights or any relevant regulations, or is otherwise deemed to be inappropriate or in violation of the terms and conditions set forth in this document.
Applications must not violate the Intellectual Property rights or other rights-including, but not limited to, copyright, trademark, patent, contract, and/or privacy rights of any other person or entity.
By entering an application the participant represents, warrants and agrees that any use of the application by the Organizers (or any of their respective partners, subsidiaries and affiliates) as authorized by these terms and conditions, shall not infringe upon, misappropriate or otherwise violate any intellectual property right or proprietary right including, without limitation, any registered or unregistered trademark, copyright, design rights or patent, nor any privacy rights, moral rights nor any other rights of any person or entity.
All information with regards to the scoring criteria, application guidance and contracting arrangements shall be shared on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of the landing page.
Recommendations for admission to the Accelerator will be based on a quantitative and qualitative assessment performed by the Organizer’s Advisory Panel. The assessment will be done against a criterion in tandem with the application information provided by the applicant. This criterion can be found as part of the FAQs.
A pitch may be requested as part of the assessment following your application.
The Organizers will select a shortlist of applicants from the list of recommendations to participate in the accelerator. This shortlist is not binding, and a subset of this shortlist may be selected by NSSF as the final list for the accelerator.
An invitation to join the accelerator shall be formally issued by the Organizers following the final selection process. Should a successful participant wish to accept such an offer and participate in Hi-innovator Accelerator, the contracting template outlined in the FAQs shall be used. Organizers also reserve the right to request further information or carry out any due diligence on the participant before any contractual arrangements are finalized.
A final signed Contract between the Organizer and the participant shall serve as the primary point of reference of the participants who agreed to join the accelerator and its conditions shall be binding to all involved parties. No part of the Contract shall be transferrable.
Participants will be offered up to UGX 100 million to cater for convertible grants and costs around the provision of technical assistance for investor readiness. The convertible grants are not transferrable to any other program and will be disbursed on a milestone basis under the oversight of the Lead Implementation Partner (LIP). Teams that successfully reach investor readiness may be offered the opportunity to receive new investments into their businesses from a pool of funders managed by NSSF.
Participation in our initiative is confirmation that you agree to adhere to all the policies, guidelines and terms and conditions listed on the FAQ section of the Hi-Innovator website https://nssfug.org/hi-innovator. These may include (but are not limited to) these Terms and Conditions, the Youth and Child Protection Guidelines, Protection against sexual exploitation, abuse and/or harassment
In return for the convertible grants and technical assistance, participating teams shall give NSSF the option to take a 6% stake in their business within a period of 3 years after graduation from the accelerator. NSSF will have an option to dilute this stake to 2%, with 1% being diluted for every successful raise of USD 100,000 (or its equivalence in Uganda shillings) in additional financing. Details of this are provided as part of the contracting template in the FAQ section of the Hi-Innovator website.
General Requirements whilst in the Hi-Innovator Accelerator
The beneficiary is required to notify NSSF before any change of ownership or shareholding to enable NSSF to exercise its option as detailed 35 above.
Each team should have a nominated leader with sufficient authority and accountability to mobilize business resources and participants that will act as the focal point of contact. All information will be shared with the nominated leader.
The Lead Implementing Partner may pair you with other collaborating implementing hubs for support and guidance whilst in the accelerator and will be expected to abide by the governance principles of these institutions as necessary.
In order to maximize benefit from the resources, expertise and tools made available by the Lead Implementation Partner in partnership with other hubs, participants in the accelerator can make use of free office space, perks and discounts from shared service providers.
Participation in hosted events, speeches and workshops is mandatory for all participants. This includes all members of the founding team and other non-founding members deemed essential for the event.
Training sessions and any other engagements that include those with investors and other businesses at their premises may be recorded to allow the Organizers and their stakeholders to track the initiative’s progress.
Towards or at the end of the accelerator or investor readiness activities (whichever comes first), participants will demo their product or solution to potential partners, investors and fellow entrepreneurs unless the organizers determine that the participants do not meet the quality and standard level required to feature on demo day.
General conditions governing participation in the Hi-Innovator Accelerator
In the event of disqualification of a participant from the accelerator, the Organizers may at their sole discretion select an alternate participant within or outside of the finalist shortlist.
Participation in the initiative constitutes a participant’s consent to the Organizers and their agents’ use of the participant’s name and description, including the organization name, if applicable, and the Participant’s likeness, photograph, voice, opinions, comments and/or the place of business/residence of the participant (or individuals who contributed to the participant’s application) for non-commercial promotional purposes in any media worldwide, without further payment or consideration in perpetuity following the conclusion of the initiative.
The Organizers reserve the right to cancel, suspend and/or modify this initiative, or any part of it, if any fraud, technical failure or any other unanticipated factor or factors beyond the Organizers’ control impairs the integrity or proper functioning of this initiative, as determined by the Organizers at their sole discretion. The Organizers reserve the right at their sole discretion to disqualify any Participant, including if they find the Participant to be tampering with the initiative, specifically including, but not limited to, the entry or selection process (for example by lobbying for selection), or to be acting in violation of these Terms and Conditions, or in a manner that is inappropriate, unsportsmanlike, not in the best interests of this initiative, or a violation of any applicable law or regulation.
Any attempt by any person to undermine the proper conduct of the initiative may be a violation of criminal and civil law, and should such an attempt be made, the Organizers reserve the right to take proper legal action, including, without limitation, referral to law enforcement for any illegal or unlawful activities.
The Organizers’ failure to enforce any provision of these Terms and Conditions shall not constitute a waiver of that provision. The Organizers are not responsible for incomplete, late, misdirected, damaged, lost, illegible or incomprehensible applications, or for address or email address changes of the Participant. Proof of sending or submitting will not be deemed to be proof of receipt by the Organizers.
In the event of any discrepancy or inconsistency between any provisions of these Terms and Conditions, and disclosures or other statements contained in any initiative materials including, but not limited to, the application form, Hi-innovator website, advertising (including, but not limited to, television, print, radio or online advertisements), these Terms and Conditions shall prevail unless otherwise superseded by any other Contractual arrangements.
The Organizers reserve the right, without liability, to amend these Terms and Conditions at any time, including the rights or obligations of participants. In such an event, the Organizers will post the amended Terms and Conditions on the initiative website. Any amendment will become effective at the time the Organizers post the amended Terms and Conditions.
All intellectual property related to this initiative (excluding Participants’ products and innovations and proprietary intellectual property), including, but not limited to, trademarks, tradenames, logos, designs, promotional materials, web pages, source codes, drawings, illustrations, slogans and representations, are owned or used under license by the Organizers. All rights are reserved. Unauthorized copying or use of any copyrighted material or intellectual property without the express written consent of its owners is strictly prohibited.
The Participants shall always act in accordance with all applicable laws in any relevant jurisdiction and continue to do so during their involvement in the Accelerator. Organizers may terminate any agreement with the Participant with immediate effect should it, in its sole discretion, deem that the Participant has contravened any applicable laws. The Organizers shall not be liable for any direct or indirect losses of the Participant arising out of any termination under this clause.
Should any provision of these Terms and Conditions be, or become, illegal or unenforceable, such illegality or unenforceability shall leave the remainder of these Terms and Conditions unaffected and valid. The illegal or unenforceable provision shall be replaced by a valid and enforceable provision that comes closest and best reflects the Organizers’ intention in a legal and enforceable manner with respect to the invalid or unenforceable provision.
Entry conditions and indemnity
Each Participant acknowledges and agrees that the relationship between the Participants, and the Organizers is not a confidential, fiduciary, or other special relationship and that the Participant’s decision to provide the Participant’s application to the Organizers for the purposes of this initiative does not place the Organizers and their respective agents in a position that is any different from the position held by the members of the general public with regard to elements of the application, except as specifically provided in these Terms and Conditions. The Organizers and their approved participants will not enter into Non-Disclosure agreements with Participants in connection with the initiative.
By entering, each Participant (including all participating members of an organization) agree(s) to:
Comply with and be bound by these Terms and Conditions, and the decisions of the Organizers, which are binding and final in all matters relating to this innovation initiative.
Indemnify, defend and hold harmless the Organizers, and their respective parent, subsidiary, and affiliated companies and any other organizations responsible for sponsoring, fulfilling, administering, advertising or promoting the initiative, and all of their respective past and present officers, directors, employees, agents and representatives from and against any and all claims, expenses, and liabilities (including legal fees), including, but not limited to, negligence and damages of any kind to persons and property, defamation, infringement of trademark, copyright, design right or other intellectual property rights, property damage, or death or personal injury arising out of or relating to a Participant’s entry, creation of application or entry of application, participation in the initiative, acceptance or use or misuse of the support offered (including any related travel or activity), participation in Pitch Days, participation in the accelerator and/or the broadcast, transmission, performance, exploitation or use of application as authorized or licensed by these Terms & Conditions.
All personal information collected from you is subject to Uganda’s Data Protection and Privacy Act (2019) and our Data Protection and Governance policy located in the FAQ section of the Hi-Innovator website.
Law and Jurisdiction
These terms and conditions will be governed by Ugandan Law and are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of Ugandan Courts.