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.  


MTN Foundation boosts Schools in Kamwenge District through Infrastructure development.

  • MTN Foundation, the charity arm of MTN Uganda, has today handed over a newly constructed classroom block and staff quarters to Bigodi Secondary School and Rwengobe Primary School respectively.
  • By undertaking this initiative, MTN is fulfilling its commitment to the people of Uganda to continually support and contribute towards the socio-economic development of the country.


MTN Foundation, the charity arm of MTN Uganda, has today handed over a newly constructed classroom block and staff quarters to Bigodi Secondary school and Rwengobe Primary School respectively.

The project was funded by MTN Foundation and implemented through Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS), a non-government organisation dedicated to improving access to quality education in Uganda.

MTN Foundation through this project which cost nearly UGX350million, constructed and furnished a 3-classroom block at Bigodi Secondary School to create adequate learning space for the students.

The project also saw Rwengobe Primary School receive newly constructed staff quarters with the capacity to accommodate 6 teaching staff and the Head Master of the institution.

According to Wim Vanhelleputte, the MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer, who was speaking at the official handover of the schools in Kamwenge today, by undertaking this initiative, MTN is fulfilling its commitment to the people of Uganda to continually support and contribute towards the socio-economic development of the country.

“We believe that this classroom block will alleviate challenges of congestion and limited learning space for the students while also creating an enabling environment for learning.  Through this project, MTN also hopes to create positive impact with ripple effects culminating into the social and economic development of the country,” he noted.

Information from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics 2021 abstract indicates that Kamwenge district has the third highest student to classroom ratio in the Western and South-Western region of Uganda. This implies that the district has the third highest number of students per classroom in the entire region after Sheema and Bundibugyo.

In addition, the abstract indicates that secondary school enrolment has reduced by 6% from 1.4m in 2016 to 1.3m in 2017.

The research spells out the need for increased efforts towards creating an enabling environment in secondary schools to encourage student enrolment.

With about 28 schools in Uganda, supporting over 1500 students to access quality education, PEAS continues to play a key role in improving the education sector in the country.

MTN Foundation has over the years invested heavily in improving infrastructure across schools in Uganda such as constructing classroom blocks and sanitary facilities at Kichwamba PEAS School in Kabarole, Noble PEAS High School and Aspire PEAS School in Ibanda district which has positively impacted thousands of students in the Western region.

While delivering his remarks, the Guest of Honour, the Outgoing Resident District Commissioner, Kamwenge district, Martin Mugabe lauded MTN Uganda for its support to the education sector in the Western region of Uganda noting it will play a critical role in alleviating some of the challenges faced by schools in the country.

“Teacher absenteeism is also another challenge that still persists within the education sector in Uganda. A World Bank report dubbed: the Global Corruption report in 2013 named Uganda as the country with the third highest rate of teacher absenteeism in the world, standing at 27%, yet the global ceiling is 30%. These challenges across schools in the country need to be tamed especially during this period of the pandemic, and I believe this initiative by MTN is one of the key solutions,” he said.

While further appreciating the MTN Foundation for this initiative, Mugabe also urged the administration and management of these schools to guard the new infrastructure with the aim of sustaining the impact for the long term.

MTN boosts palliative care activities in Busoga region

  • Shs20million given to rays of hope Hospice to boost palliative care in the region
  • Many rural women in the region dying from cervical and breast cancer due to ignorance and poverty. Funds will be used for education and clinical services including early detection and treatment.
  • In 2019, 33% of Rays of Hope Hospice enrolled women suffered from cervical cancer while 21% had breast cancer


The MTN Uganda Foundation has boosted Palliative care activities in Busoga sub-region with a shs20million cash donation.

The donation was handed over to the Executive Director Rays of Hope Hospice Jinja by the CEO MTN Uganda Wim Vanhelleputte during a brief ceremony at the MTN Uganda offices at Nyonyi gardens.

Rays of Hope Hospice is a non-governmental organization that provides palliative care to improve the quality of life for people with life-threatening illnesses and their families in Busoga region and the neighboring districts.

“In 2019, 33% of our enrolled women with cancer suffered from cervical cancer and 21% had breast cancer so we started education and screening for early diagnosis and treatment for these two most common cancers in Uganda, but we are limited by financing, the need is great. So we are grateful to MTN for coming to our rescue and call on others to join the struggle not just in Busoga but the whole country,” Sylvia Nakami explained the Executive Director.

“The absolute poverty and last-mile isolation of our clients means ray of Hope Hospice is often our patients last hope for treatment and care making our work immense and a crucial challenge. We can’t do this all on our own but with support from everyone, we can save several lives,” Nakami further explained.

Many of the victims are mothers or sexually active people. “If a mother dies leaving her children that will be another problem, that’s why we do everything we can to save the mother or if they don’t make it, at least it will be more dignified.”

Vanhelleputte said he was delighted to work with a partner that puts every cent they get into good use and promised to continue supporting the work of the NGO.