Agricultural financing remains a major challenge, especially among the traditional financial systems. Through the regional stakeholder meetings, USAID Feed the Future Uganda Inclusive Agricultural Activity (USAID FtF IAM) seeks to create a platform for information sharing and awareness about the available opportunities in the non-traditional financing space for agribusinesses in Uganda. The activity successfully launched its presence in Northern Uganda, through a fruitful stakeholders’ meeting under the theme, ‘Raising Capital, Transaction Advisory Services, and Access to Agri-finance,’ on Thursday 11th March 2021 at the Watoto grounds in Gulu district. The event attracted among others, agribusiness actors, finance and investment experts, local district government leadership, smallholder farmers and, food processors to have a substantial conversation around financing and tapping available opportunities for agricultural development in Northern Uganda.
During the event, the COVID-19 preventive Standard Operation Procedures (SOPs) were keenly heeded to ensure safety for all participants. At the reporting point of the launching grounds, the organizers enforced mandatory sanitizing, wearing of masks and social distance was rightfully observed at the recommended two meters.
The event commenced with an overview of the USAID FtF IAM project, from the Chief of Party, Mr. Apuoyo Collins, who articulated the project’s objectives, approaches, expected results and, a sustainability plan. This was concretized by a presentation from the IAM Deputy Chief of Party Miss Kirsten Pfeiffer about the FtF IAM Activity approaches for working with Agribusinesses.
Among other keynote speakers for the day were the Resident District Commissioner (RDC), Mr. Odong Latek Stephen and, the Resident City Commissioner (RCC), Mr. Nsubuga Bewayo Stephen. The RCC welcomed USAID FtF IAM to the Gulu district and expressed his excitement to have another development partner on board. He particularly appreciated the activity’s inclusion approach, “we are lucky that USAID FtF IAM chose to work in this region, it is now upon the people of Northern Uganda, especially the youth to make good use of such development initiatives.” The RCC commented. Mr. Nsubuga also extended his utmost gratitude to the participants and encouraged them to continue working towards developing the commercial agricultural sector.
In his closing shot, he thanked USAID FtF IAM for keenly following the COVID-19 safety protocols and urged everyone to stay vigilant and compliant. The day climaxed with a panel session, that was led by a team of finance, business and, investment advisors from established companies. These included: Miss Agnes Muwonge, a finance and investment professional from Ortus Africa, Mark Mutaahi, the Regional Director of Bid Network, David Wanambi Wakyiku, Manager at Asigma Capital, and Jonathan Maraka, a Senior Associate at Open Capital Advisors. The panelists adequately tackled issues around Investment readiness, access to finance, understanding the investor
ecosystem and what will make agribusinesses attractive to investment. The rich panel discussion led the event into a question and answer session which allowed the audience to interact and share their experiences with the panelists. Mr. Ojara Mapenduzi, the Local District Chairperson who doubles as the Member of Parliament (MP) elect Gulu West , gave the event’s closing remarks by pledging his full support to the USAID FtF IAM activity.
This consequently led to the last activity of the day, a site visit to Kweyo Growers Cooperative where the team
was taken into the processes of producing quality peanut butter. Kweyo is a potential FtF IAM partner under the food processing intervention. The activity hopes to support Kweyo’s processing work and drive more benefit to the smallholder farmers. Moving forward, the USAID FtF IAM activity is working to stay in touch with the event participants by opening up lines for communication and collaboration to achieve the overall USAID FtF IAM goal of
increasing profitable agri-businesses, promoting quality agricultural inputs, improving quality and nutrition
value of products and enforcing of rules and regulations.