INCREASING FARMER ACCESS TO FINANCIAL SERVICES
FtF IAM partnered with Ensibuuko, a fintech to scale digital community entrepreneur models to increase smallholder farmer access to financial services in Northern Uganda. This week, Ensibuuko disbursed UGX. XXX unsecured agricultural digital loans to 120 smallholder farmers (95 women, 27 youth) across 18 VSLAs in Lango (UGX. XXX) and Acholi (UGX. XXX) sub-regions at a uniform monthly interest rate of 1.25% per month (15% per annum), with a two-month grace period provided over a 6-month repayment timeline. By the end of May 2023, Ensibuuko expects to disburse UGX. XXX unsecured agricultural digital loans to 30 VSLA groups. As an adaptive management approach, Ensibuuko has learned and incorporated changes such as refining the Digital Community Entrepreneur (DCE) model to include over 60 master DCEs graduated from the existing network of 510 DCEs across the 2 sub-regions. To enhance the capacity of its workforce, Ensibuuko has trained 14 DCEs in Oyam district, on financial literacy, digital inclusion, mobile technology, and existing agriculture financial products (loans, savings, insurance).
Additionally, 46 master agents are undergoing training this week in Lira, Gulu, and Kole districts. Ensibuko partner Strategic Impact Advisors (SIA), trained the Ensibuuko staff on the“Hey Sister- Digital Financial Literacy.” The “Hey Sister- Digital Financial Literacy” series is designed to raise awareness and confidence among women, so that they may consider and use digital financial services effectively to support their economic goals, be empowered, and attain financial independence.
AGRI INPUT SUPPLY AND AGRIBUSINESS SERVICES
In the Palabek refugee settlement and host community, FtF IAM works with Consult Agri-Query Solutions (CONAS) to promote horticulture production and marketing. CONAS has trained farmer groups on the production of horticultural crops such as tomatoes, onions, watermelon, and cabbages through the establishment of demonstration gardens. CONAS considers the demonstration hosts as produce collection centers. This week, CONAS bought UGX. XXX in products from five (5) collection centers (farmer groups). While the value of sales is still small, it is a meaningful shift away from a dependency mindset towards one where refugees and community members buy inputs for commercial purposes, selling surplus production to CONAS. The collection centers belong to farmer groups with an average of 25 members per group. The farmer groups invested their earnings in their Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) accounts which has increased individual farmers’ access to finances through the VSLA’s borrowing scheme.
CONAS also has an agreement with Golden Peace Hotel in Gulu to supply 1,350kgs of tomatoes, onions, cabbages, and sweet pepper every week while other products are sold to market vendors in major towns like Kitgum, Gulu, and Elegu border point with South Sudan.