According to research conducted by a team from the College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS), Makerere University and partners, entrepreneurs with secondary education were more likely (69%) to start new businesses after skilling compared to those with either primary or post-secondary education. Additionally, 70% of female entrepreneurs started one business after attending a skilling programme compared to 30% of their male counterparts. The findings were revealed at a research dissemination event held on Friday 11th December 2020 at CoBAMS and hosted live on ZOOM.
The research team led by Dr. Anthony Tibaingana was also made up of Dr. Faisal Buyinza, Mr. Emmanuel Ssemuyaga and Ms. Catherine Tumusiime from CoBAMS. Mr. Ronnie Mulongo from the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and Ms. Rita Atukwasa from the Institute for Social Transformation (IST) completed the team. The research which focused on exploring “The Impact of Skilling the Youth and Women in Household Enterprise Start-Up and Performance in Uganda” was funded by the Government of Uganda under the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF).
The data that informed these findings was collected by the research team through surveys and face-to-face interviews in the districts of Kampala, Mukono and Wakiso where skilling Uganda programmes under PSFU, Enterprise Uganda, Uganda Industrial Research Institute and The Africa Institute for Strategic Animal Resource Services and Development (AFRISA) are implemented. The study that began in December 2019 successfully concluded in August 2020 despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting Government guidelines that imposed a lock down and other mitigation measures.
The study objectives were to; identify the methods used in transferring skills, evaluate the contribution of skilling to the start-up of businesses, examine how the training is influencing the performance of existing businesses and examine the strategic interventions on start-ups and performance. Anchored on National Development Plan III (NDP III)’s goal “To Increase Average Household Incomes and Improve the Quality of Life of Ugandans”, the study was also conducted in line with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1-No Poverty, 8-Decent Work and Economic Growth and 9-Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
Presenting some of the findings on selected determinants of start-up, Dr. Tibaingana shared that the per annum average profit for start-ups in the study areas was approximately UGX 276,000 with a maximum of UGX 8 Million reported. “This tells us that much as they are small, these start-ups are making some degree of profit and if they are well supported, they can become bigger and support the Government in its Vision 2040.”
Regarding proprietorship, the results showed that while the majority of businesses (61%) were solely owned, only a dismal number (1%) were registered as Private Limited Companies while partnerships accounted for 29%. The average age of business owners was 32.6 years while the maximum reported age was 72 years.
On a rather good note for the Government and implementing agencies, 92% of respondents attributed the source of their business ideas to the skilling programmes. Buoyed by this finding, Dr. Tibaingana said, “The Government needs to invest more money into skilling because it is helping us to get more business ideas.”
Delving deeper into the skills acquired during training by education level, the findings revealed that entrepreneurs with secondary dominated the skills acquisition. 59% of them acquired business creation skills, 58% acquired production skills, 51% marketing skills and 50% business management skills. Only 14%, 21%, 17% and 25% of entrepreneurs with primary education acquired the same skills respectively. The skill type reported as most acquired by those with post-secondary education was marketing at 32% while the least acquired was production at 21%.
Skilling methods play an important role in any learning endeavour. The stakes are even higher in an era where start-up capital is hard to find; the methods must guarantee knowledge acquisition and retention if start-ups are to make it past their second year of existence. Thankfully, role play was the most used method at 56% followed by the lecture at 27% and practical at 17%.
At the end of the dissemination, the research team made some policy recommendations. These included;
- Government measures aimed at easing business registration, access to external start-up capital and business training should be encouraged to promote investment in enterprises that are starting up.
- Skilling centres should be spread throughout the country so that entrepreneurs in rural areas can also benefit.
- Training syllabus should be developed to accommodate a calibrated training for all.
- Training materials should be made available to aid the practical method which is critical in skilling
- Business partnerships and limited companies should be encouraged to enhance big start-up businesses as potential sources of gainful employment and enterprise performance.
On behalf of the Principal Dr. Eria Hisali, the Deputy Principal CoBAMS, Dr. Bruno Yawe thanked Dr. Tibaingana, Dr. Buyinza and the research team for conducting the study on an important aspect of Uganda’s education sector. He equally thanked Mak-RIF for sponsoring the study and in a special way thanked Dr. Godfrey Akileng, the Dean School of Business, CoBAMS for providing the leadership that has enabled research to thrive.
Representing Mak-RIF, Dr. John Mutenyo a Member of the Grants Management Committee (GMC) commended Prof. William Bazeyo for his efforts in ensuring that the University secured funding from the Government to specifically support research and innovations. He equally appealed to Dr. Tibaingana and the research team to write more proposals when the next call is advertised.
Article by Public Relations Office
EfD-Mak Centre at a Glance (2019-2020)
The Environment for Development initiative (EfD-Mak) Centre Uganda started its full operations in the Financial year 2019-2020. The centre went through a full process of institutionalization and established a fully functional office with Administrative staff managing its operations.
The centre has lived up to its mandate by enrolling 25 Research fellows (13 Senior Research fellows, 9 Research fellows and 1 Junior Research fellow). The centre has conducted four (4) trainings and seven (7) policy dialogues both at low and high-level and exchanged ideas and debate on the status, impact and direction of environmental policy in the country.
The centre has also conducted research, published, written policy briefs and established local and international research and policy networks with collaborating research institutions and policy makers in Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies.
This report gives you the major impact activities undertaken by the centre in its 16 months of existence.
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Mak-RIF Plugs Tax Education Gaps in Uganda’s Informal Sector
According to statistics from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Annual Data Book 2018/19, at 12.44%, Uganda’s average tax to GDP ratio over the last five years is one of the lowest in the region, and far below the sub-Saharan Africa average of 16%. Simply put, the total tax collected by URA has on average over the past five years accounted for only 12.44% of the size of Uganda’s economy. Comparatively, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi recorded average tax to GDP ratios of 16.10%, 12.83%, 15.80% and 13.55% respectively over the same period.
This should not come as a surprise, given that 2016 statistics from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) indicated that approximately 98% of Uganda’s population of working age (14-64) were engaged in the informal sector. The title of a 2017 article published by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) based on the same statistics put it aptly, “Informality Growing Faster than Formality”.
Expanding the tax base by tapping into semi-formal economic activities is going to be one of the major focus areas in the Third National Development Plan (NDPIII) 2020/21-2024/25. It is against this background that researchers in the College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS) led by the Principal, Dr. Eria Hisali conducted a study that sought to understand which gaps exist in tax education and how these gaps can be packaged into improving compliance and subsequently broadening the tax base in Uganda.
Funded by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF) the research undertaken in 2020 targeted over 500 respondents with particular focus on the informal sector. In addition to the Principal Investigator (PI) Dr. Eria Hisali, the research team consisted of Dr. Ismail Kintu, Dr. Fred Bateganya, Ms. Marion Atukunda, Ms. Winfred Nalwoga, Mr. Nicholas Musoke, Mr. Patrick Lumala and Dr. Kagarura Willy.
Speaking at the research dissemination workshop held on 10th February 2021 in the School of Business Conference Room, Dr. Hisali shared that “The research advocates for a comprehensive review of Uganda Revenue Authority’s tax education programme with focus on linking tax collection to better service delivery,”
The research team’s interaction with members of the informal sector revealed that tax education being provided is not well suited to the informal sector. “For instance, tax exhibitions, messages on websites and brochures do not provide the best approach to reach out to the informal sector. The informal sector needs more engagement with emphasis on field visits and face-to-face interaction,” explained Dr. Hisali.
The Principal Investigator however pointed to some quick wins that could be adopted as URA evaluates and updates its tax education programme. He noted that approximately UGX 6 Trillion had been allocated to livelihood programmes by the Government of Uganda between the 2018/19 and current financial years. “How can tax education be included as part of the package that these Government livelihood programmes contain? I think we could see some quick wins because as recipients benefit from livelihood programmes, they could be asked to register as tax payers.”
Findings shared by the research team further revealed a limited coverage of tax education. Whereas 53% had been told or heard about the importance of paying taxes, only 40% had received education on how to register for taxes while only 38% had heard about filing tax returns. Furthermore, only 32% had received tax education on fines and penalties, 29% on the benefits of paying taxes and only 16% on audits and assessments.
Nevertheless, some of the registered respondents who admitted to not paying taxes cited low tax morale as well as poor service delivery and unfairness as reasons for their noncompliance. Researchers further took note of the limited personal touch with potential taxpayers in the informal sector, disconnect between the current taxpayer education modality and unique features of the informal sector, as well as the cost implications and overly technical language in existing modalities as some of the reasons for nonpayment of taxes.
The Study concluded that:
- Majority of the respondents had limited or no knowledge about the Tax Identification Number (TIN), a critical requirement for tax payment. More than half of respondents did not know how to acquire a TIN.
- Actors in the informal sector cannot differentiate between taxes paid to URA and those paid to local governments and other bodies that bring together operators.
- Most respondents did not know how to formalize their business/enterprise, another important factor for tax registration.
- There exists some form of registration of informal businesses/enterprises upon which formalization can build.
- The URA tax education campaigns messaging and targeting has left out some potential tax payers. Messaging and targeting of tax education is key to realizing intended results of growing the tax base and ultimately the tax revenues.
The Research Dissemination attracted participants from URA, Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), Academia, Private Sector, Civil Society, the Media, Mak-RIF Grants Management Committee (GMC) as well as staff and students from Makerere University.
Painting a picture on the new ideas and innovations to foster a taxpaying culture through tax education, URA’s Mr. Nicholas Musoke who represented the Assistant Commissioner Research Planning and Development-Ms. Milly Nalukwago, noted that whereas Uganda’s population is approximately 45.7million, the taxpayer register stands at only 1.59million. Approximately 953,000 of those registered are active taxpayers, while 906 URA clients pay 80% of the tax. The informal sector currently contributes less than 1% (0.03%) of tax collected.
To help achieve this, URA plans to roll out the AEN strategy. AEN stands for Awareness, Empower and Nurture. Under Awareness, URA intends to intentionally engage the public on tax laws, roles, rights, obligations and opportunities relating to tax. Under Empower, URA will guide taxpayers on their rights as well as how and when to fulfil their tax obligations, while under Nurture, the Authority will set up and support mechanisms to cultivate and maintain a taxpaying culture.
Dr. John Mutenyo who represented the Chairperson of MakRIF GMC- Prof. William Bazeyo in his address commended the Government of Uganda for prioritizing research at Makerere University. “In phase One of Mak-RIF, the Government committed UGX 30billion and this was one of the research projects that
was funded under that phase. To date, over 500 competitive research grants have been supported.”
Prof. Bazeyo congratulated Dr. Hisali and the entire research team for undertaking a study geared towards strengthening the implementation of NDPIII and supporting the development of Uganda. “Most importantly, I would like to thank Dr. Hisali and the team for having a collaborative study that involved the key stakeholders such as URA. These are the stakeholders that are going to make it easy to buy into and implement the outcomes of this research.”
Commenting on the findings, the other stakeholders at the research dissemination workshop pointed out the need to embark on trust building programmes with the taxpayer. They equally emphasised the need to consider reducing the load on the tax payer. The taxpayer in Uganda is subject to taxes such as;
Value Added Tax (VAT), Pay As You Earn (PAYE), Customs, Demurrage, Income Tax, Withholding Tax, Excise Duty, Over-The-Top (OTT)/Social Media Tax among others.
Article by Public Relations Office
Secondary School Dropouts a Dominant Force in Uganda’s Informal Sector
Research conducted by a team led by Salmon Mugoda a Member of Faculty, Department of Economic Theory and Analysis, School of Economics, Makerere University has brought to light evidence of a strong entrepreneurial spirit among secondary school dropouts than any other level of education. Findings further revealed that this dominance is driven by two key factors, namely; wanting to take advantage of an existing business opportunity and failure to find employment in the formal sector.
These findings are contained in the first publication under the project titled: “Understanding the dynamics of the informal sector in Uganda” funded by the Government of Uganda through the Makerere University Research and Innovations Fund (Mak-RIF). The Open Access article, The portrait of Uganda’s informal sector: What main obstacles do the sector face?, was published in Cogent Economics & Finance, Volume 8 Issue 1, and is accessible at: https://doi.org/10.1080/23322039.2020.1843255.
Other embers of the project team include; Stephen Esaku-Adjunct Faculty, Kyambogo University (Soroti Campus), Rose Kibuka Nakimu-Faculty Member, Department of Economic Theory and Analysis, School of Economics, Makerere University and Assoc. Prof. Edward Bbaale-Dean School of Economics and Director EfD-Mak Centre, Makerere University.
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