MTN’s Business Intelligence manager advises youth to startup businesses focused on niche markets to excel


Local startups need to focus on niche markets that they can tap into to excel for better survival and longevity of their businesses, according to Mackinon Kabarole, Senior Manager, Business Intelligence at MTN Uganda.

Mackinon, who spoke to the youth undergoing MTN Youth Skilling Program in a virtual interview under the theme ‘Data as a competitive advantage for startups,’ said it is nearly impossible for startups to compete with already established big businesses and corporations with huge resources such as capital for the same market segment

“A startup by nature should identify pockets of customers that are under-served by the big players or have a niche that is typically not going to be served by big corporations,” he said.

“Failure to do so means that it will be setting it up for the proverbial David versus Goliath because everything will be against that startup.”

Kabarole advised the youth hoping to venture into business to offer differentiated products and services that large businesses will find difficult to provide possibly due to cost or customer segments that they are not interested in.

Irene Nandyose crotcheting. She was empowered to commercialise the practice during her training in the MTN Foundation Youth Skilling Program

Uganda has been ranked as the most entrepreneurial country in the world with the majority of youths involved in new or established businesses, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM). But the business failure rate remains high due to inadequate skills and proper product positioning.

Kabarole also advised startups to make use of available data, especially about production volumes, expenditure, incomes, sales, and customer feedback to help monitor the progress of their businesses.

“Taking advantage of exciting digital tools, data should be collected and put into simple logic that can inform you about certain elements of your business,” he said.

“For example, can you look at your business records and tell your profit Vs your revenue or what products you most sell most or what products are more profitable when doing your sales peak? What are your customer and community purchase behaviors?  All of this can be helpful in better-informed business decisions for growth.”

He, however, cautioned that the data collected and used should be accurate to avoid misleading the business.  He also said startups need to respect available laws in relation to data protection and privacy to avoid legal suits.

MTN Uganda through the MTN Foundation Uganda unveiled its Youth skilling program under the foundation arm of youth empowerment in 2020 benefiting at least 100 youths in preparation for the evolving digital world with the goal of creating practical ICT-driven economic solutions to challenges in society.

MTN Uganda has over the years committed to integrating youth into its programs as a measure to empower them economically.