Uganda Investment Authority, Bank of Uganda take awareness on affordable financing to southwestern Uganda

By David Rupiny

Uganda Investment Authority and Bank of Uganda (central bank) on March 15 took their awareness workshop on affordable financing for small businesses and commercial farmers to the southwestern district of Rukungiri.

The workshop focused on the central bank’s two facilities: the Small Business Recovery Fund (SBRF) which targets micro, small, and medium enterprises’ recovery from the adverse effects of the Covid pandemic; and the Agricultural Credit Facility (ACF) which targets commercial farmers.

The Governor of the Bank of Uganda, Dr. Michael Atingi-Ego, in a speech read for him by the Executive Director of Finance, Richard Byarugaba, said although small businesses are key to Uganda’s economic growth, their major constraint is access to affordable credit, hence the creation of the two funds – SBRF and ACF.

The Governor said the Agricultural Credit Facility is for MSMEs to acquire equipment for farming, post-harvest handling & value addition, amongst others. The fund is accessed through Bank of Uganda-supervised financial institutions up to 2.1 billion shillings repayable in eight years (maximum), with a grace period of three years (maximum) and an interest rate of 12 percent per annum.

The SBRF provides affordable financial loans to small enterprises that have experienced hardships due to the measures undertaken to control the spread of the coronavirus in Uganda. Eligibility is for small businesses operated by individuals, groups, partnerships, and companies, employing between 2-49 people and with an annual turnover of 10 million shillings to 300 million shillings, with demonstrable capacity for recovery.

Security Minister, Major General (retired) Jim Muhwezi, who presided over the workshop, hailed UIA and BoU for raising awareness on affordable funding to the people of Rukungiri whom he urged to access the money, invest wisely and boost their businesses.

The Chairman of Uganda Investment Authority, Morrison Rwakakamba, said the workshop on access to affordable financing is an eye opener to the business community and farmers on funding opportunities offered by the government.

“Rukungiri is strategically located near the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and has enabling infrastructure like roads and electricity. These are opportunities and enablers that the business and farming communities should seize and exploit”, said Rwakakamba.

The Rukungiri District Chairman, Geoffrey Kyomukama, urged the people to use the funds to boost commercial farming by investing in things like irrigation schemes, post-harvest handling, cold storage, and transportation of produce, amongst others.

“My people let’s move with new development strategies. The time is now when you should arise with your group and family to share in national wealth. Take advantage of available investment opportunities”, said Kyomukama.

Representatives of banks like Stanbic, Centenary, Post, Equity, and Pride Microfinance fielded questions from the participants on various financing issues.