One of the challenges businesses claim to face is access to finance. Sometimes this may not be the challenge because options and opportunities to access financing keep on coming. Many a times the challenge is the business is not adequately prepared to take advantage of the opportunities available to them.
For instance, on the 18th May 2015 I posted about the funding opportunity that was available to the tune of US100,000 by Matching Grant Facility (MGF) under the Competitiveness and Enterprise Development Project (CEDP) with The Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU). Some entrepreneurs were not able to put in their proposal on time because they couldn’t put together all the documents required to meet the timeline given of15th June 2015. They didn’t have even some of the basics handy.

Between the 24th and the 26th June 2015, doors were opened for all SMEs seeking alternative sources of funding to meet Private Equity (PE) and Venture Capitalist (VC) firms at the Kampala Serena Conference Centre. The funding by the 10 PE/VE ranged between US$5,000 to $5,000,000. Most of the SMEs in attendance could not satisfy the expectations of the investors.
The issues that the investors found wanting was documented in the New vision, Thursday, July 2, 2015 advertorial as follows:
1) Improve on your fundraising material (justification for funding)
2) Improve on your disclosure practices
3) Increase your financial literacy, keep good and accurate records, learn how to read financial statements and use them to develop your business strategies or hire an accountant
4) Compile company profiles including some basic financial information
5) Prepare a short description of the need for financing; the amount; and use
6) A quick 2 page investor brief/pitch will do, it should also indicate sources and uses of funds, and valuation of your business, as well as a good understanding of exit strategies.

Over the last couple of weeks I have received calls from business owners who want help with their financial statements ASAP! Some are meeting deadlines for a bid, others for a submitting a grant application and others for filling their annual tax returns.

While I am very happy to help, some last minute demands are not practical in terms of the accounting work that needs to be done in order to generate the financial statements. If we adopt the principle of having a system in place that can generate the financial statements as and when needed, our business will ALWAYS BE PREPARED to seize the opportunities that abound.

‘BE PREPARED’ is the girl guides motto. I was a girl guide in primary school and still remember the patron saying “a girl guide should always be prepared”. I guess this got ingrained in the subconscious somewhere and is now a life motto. I cherish the values that were taught because they prepared us for what was ahead when we were still young.

What do you think is the key challenge to SMEs?

To your success!