Capital Structure and Financial Performance of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in Buganda Region, Uganda
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Small and Medium Scale Enterprises are known to be drivers of economic growth in Uganda. According to Uganda Investment Authority, the projected 5.5% economic growth by 2030 was dependent on a sustained performance trend of SMEs. However, SMEs in Uganda have witnessed a persistent performance decline of up to 70 % business failure rate in 2018 from 50% in 2004, a problem attributed to persistently low levels of profitability of the SMEs. Empirical literature on the capital structure-financial performance relationship has remained contradictory in both the developed and emerging economies alike. Hence, the study sought to determine the effect of short-term debt, long-term debt, and equity capital on the financial performance of SMEs in the Buganda region, Uganda as well as the moderating and mediating effects of market conditions and financial capacity respectively on the capital structure-financial performance relationship of SMEs in Buganda region, Uganda. The study was anchored on tradeoff, pecking order, stakeholder, as well as the free cash flow theories. Positivist research philosophy was adopted as well as the analytical cross-sectional research design. Using stratified random and purposive sampling techniques, a sample of 453 respondents was selected from a target population of 133,454 SMEs. Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlation as well as multiple regressions analyses (using STATA version 14). Hypotheses were tested at a 0.05 level of significance. Normality, multicollinearity, and heteroskedasticity tests were conducted preceding multiple regression analysis. Research ethical issues were adhered to accordingly. The study found that short-term debt had a negative and significant effect on financial performance; long-term debt had a negative and insignificant effect on financial performance while Equity capital had a positive and significant effect on financial performance. Market conditions had a positive and significant moderating effect, while financial capacity indicated a significant and partial mediation effect in the relationship between capital structure and financial performance. The study recommends that SMEs should employ less amounts of debt and adopt more of own funds in their capital structure to improve profitability. Policymakers should design policies that promote mobilization of own capital for SMEs to discourage borrowing as well as enhancing their access to the equity markets. SMEs should assess the market conditions as well as maintain adequate liquidity and solvency levels in the process of deciding the capital structure mix of their operations to optimize the output of their financial investment.