EU & UNCDF Launch Initiative to Boost Sustainable Agribusiness in Uganda

by Business Times
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The European Union Delegation in Uganda, in collaboration with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), has unveiled a groundbreaking initiative aimed at fostering sustainable growth within Uganda’s agribusiness sector. Named the Support to Agricultural Revitalization and Transformation (START) Phase II, this initiative represents a significant investment of EUR 11.5 million (UGX 48.9 billion), co-financed by the European Union.

The primary objective of START Phase II is to catalyze economic development, spur job creation, and drive sustainable growth throughout Uganda, building upon the successes of its predecessor, START Phase I. Under START Phase I, over 50 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) received UGX 13.5 billion in concessional loans and reimbursable grants, thus creating markets for over 120,000 farmers.

START II aims to tackle the substantial challenges faced by agribusiness SMEs in accessing financing for expansion and growth. It will focus on promoting value addition and agro-processing by providing these SMEs with access to affordable medium-term financing, thereby facilitating the expansion of their operations. Moreover, the initiative prioritizes the adoption of green practices and inclusivity, particularly for vulnerable groups and women-led enterprises. Notably, 30% of its resources will be allocated towards promoting gender equality and supporting green SMEs.

Sophie De Coninck, Head of Uganda Office at UNCDF, emphasized the significance of the START Facility in unlocking the potential of agribusiness SMEs in Uganda. She stated that by addressing the financing gap and enhancing technical capabilities, the initiative aims to drive sustainable growth, create jobs, and foster economic resilience.

European Union Ambassador to Uganda, Jan Sadek, reiterated the EU’s commitment to cultivating sustainable growth and prosperity in Uganda. He emphasized that through collaboration with UNCDF, the EU aims to empower agribusiness SMEs and create an environment conducive to economic resilience and job creation. The launch of START Phase II underscores the dedication of both organizations to supporting inclusive and green economic transformation, ultimately contributing to the long-term prosperity of Uganda and its people.

To ensure effective implementation and maximize impact, START II will collaborate with various stakeholders, including financial institutions, private sector foundations, government bodies, and international organizations. Key partners involved in the implementation include the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Federation of Small and Medium Enterprises (FSME), Aceli Africa, and the Uganda Development Bank Limited (UDB).

START Phase II aims to revolutionize the agribusiness landscape in Uganda by strengthening institutional capacity, enhancing technical capacity, and enabling access to affordable finance for agribusiness SMEs. With approximately 1.1 million micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) employing around 2.5 million people in Uganda, these businesses play a crucial role in the country’s private sector and development. However, challenges such as poor management, lack of records, collateral, and capital hinder their growth potential.

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