Uganda’s leading beer maker, Nile Breweries Limited (NBL), has unveiled a social entrepreneurship programme dubbed “100+ Accelerator,” Cohort 2023 to promote business start-ups committed to sustainability.
The 100+ accelerator programme, an initiative of the parent company of NBL, AB InBev will offer a funding opportunity of up to US$100,000 (UGX 370M) to successful applicants whose business ideas provide innovative solutions to eight challenge areas, including climate action, inclusive growth, smart agriculture, biodiversity, the circular economy, water stewardship, health, and wellness.
Speaking at the launch at the Nile Breweries headquarters in Luzira, Mr, Adu Rando, the Managing Director of NBL shared that sustainability is good business and a fundamental part of their company.
He explained that at NBL, they take to heart the notion that no single company or organisation can solve today’s sustainability challenges single-handedly but rather through a collaborative approach, and therefore, the 100+ Accelerator programme has established partnerships with leading scientists, entrepreneurs, innovators, and companies around the world to identify and scale new sustainability solutions.
Mr Rando added that to them, a future with more cheers is a shared prosperity for their communities, the planet and their company.
“It is growth that is inclusive and value that is shared and wins for the world that are truly worth celebrating.”
In his remarks, Mr Onapito Ekomoloit, the legal and corporate affairs director at NBL said the programme is building on what has become a culture for them. He explained that they started bringing entrepreneurism in the 21st century, when they started the farming programme.
“We were able to make noncommercial crops become commercial. 25000 farmers have today benefited from providing us with raw materials. We started with the basic element for an ordinary farmer interacting with money or capital,”he said.
He added: “We also had KickStart which was emphasizing youth who had bankable ideas. It enabled youth to start businesses that have existed up-to-date. Then “Be a Millionaire” and now we are at the accelerator. Our fundamental belief is that there is no better way to empower than entrepreneurship.”
Now in its 5th Cohort, the 100+ Accelerator was created as an innovation-driven platform to exponentially fuel the growth of sustainability startups and to help the company reach its sustainability goals for 2025.
Starting last year, 35 Ugandan entrepreneurs had a chance to apply in the hope of joining the already over 80 companies implementing their solutions in 20 countries around the world. Former winners currently operating in Uganda under Sustainable Agriculture solutions include Oko Finance, BanQu and Agri Friend.
According to Mr Jackson Ssettuba, the finance manager, Wazi Vision Limited a local company that designs and manufactures prescription eyewear from sustainable local material such as caw horn, bamboo and cyclone plastics, they applied in the previous cohort and it gave them mileage.
“We have come back again to participate in cohort five because we believe every start-up needs that financial muscle to push the ideas. Our vision is to be visible locally and internationally and we hope this competition is going to help us,”he said.
Franc Kamugyisha, the CEO & Founder Eco Plastile, a runner up in Cohort 4 shared that they enjoyed the process, from online- application, to pilot project designs, interviews and much as they did not receive investment, the feedback received has helped them grow their social venture.
“I will be applying again with our software- Wastepays- enabling African businesses and households to monetize their waste (plastics, glass, etc) using a mobile platform,” he said.
About the NBL 100+ Accelerator Programme
The 100+ Accelerator programme was launched by AB InBev, NBL’s parent company, in 2018 to help the company reach its ambitious sustainability goals faster by finding start-ups that could deliver breakthrough advancements across five key sustainability pillars, which include water stewardship, smart agriculture, circular packaging, climate action, and upcycling.
During the first two cohorts, more than half of the startups secured long-term contracts with AB InBev. In 2021, the Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive, and Unilever partnered with AB InBev’s 100+ Accelerator to fund and pilot sustainable innovation in supply chains. In its first three cohorts, the programme has worked with 70 start-ups in over 20 countries. The 100+ Accelerator offers size and scale to passionate entrepreneurs to help bring their solutions to market faster. These startups have raised more than US$300k and are scaling globally to achieve the programme’s mission: ‘’to accelerate the world’s shift towards sustainable solutions and to business the right way, not the easy way’’.
In 2023, AB InBev has concentrated and increased the focus challenge areas to 8 across a wide range of areas that help the company contribute towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 100+ Accelerator partner companies’ sustainability goals, which are climate action, inclusive growth, smart agriculture, biodiversity, circular economy, water stewardship, health, and wellness.