Irwin Grayson Associates
Incubator & managed workspace

Workspace development at Mbarara, Uganda

In 2002, the Uganda Gatsby Trust and 40 businesses in the Mbarara Gatsby Club bought a site of around 12 acres on which they hoped to build small business units for sale. With a little support, they developed ambitious plans to build 72 units, each of 60m2, in six blocks of 12 units, to be sold to members and to other businesses in Mbarara. IGA helped them develop their business plan, link them up with a UK partner and secure funding from DFID's Business Linkages Challenge Fund as well as assisting with extending the leasehold of the land and preparing the business plan which secured considerable additional funding by way of a bank loan

>By June 2007, the construction of the Mbarara Business Park was well on its way with five out of the six blocks completed. The sixth had been started and completion was on schedule for end of September 2007. It was becoming apparent, however, that the members were not repaying their loans as fast as anticipated and that the project was going to experience cash flow problems.

The Board suggested that the company sell one or more blocks as a whole to raise some capital. This opportunity was advertised, but the response was not good. However, Gen. Salim Saleh, Minister of State for Microfinance (and brother of the President) saw the advert and remembered a Presidential Directive of February 2007 requiring that 20 Business Parks be constructed round the country. He admitted that “until we saw the Gatsby advert, we had no clue how to go about HE's programme”. He requested that UGT meet to work out a programme of collaboration to set up 20 Parks on the Mbarara model but on a larger scale. The President mentioned Mbarara in his new year address and Uganda Gatsby Trust submitted a proposal.

In brief, the Government agreed to advance funds to UGT to allow them to offer more affordable mortgages to the purchasers of the units and to contract UGT to develop a further 19 parks over the next two years.