The government of Uganda is setting up Small and Medium Enterprises centres in industrial parks.
According to the State Minister for Investment and Privatization, Evelyn Anite, the centres will help the government easily identify the SMEs that can be helped.
“We have 25 industrial parks on land given by Ugandans. We have decided to design a specific area for SMEs here in Namanve. We are finalizing the centre soon. SMEs will have homes in the centres. When we want to commercialize them, we have where to find them,” she said.
“We want to get them out of their garages and take them to the manufacturing area and we know if we attract them, they will be able to see the multinationals and learn from them,” she added.
The minister was speaking at the graduation of 500 SME trainees at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI). She asked them to utilize money invested under the Parish Development Model.
“Those already in an enterprise of beekeeping, they just have to go and get from their parishes and use it to expand. What Post Bank and FSME are doing perfectly fits the PDM agenda by giving them financial literacy,” she said.
To overcome the Covid-19 financial challenges, the minister said the government came up with a model of giving out Shs100 billion and another Shs100 billion contributed by commercial banks to develop Small and Medium Enterprises but also the micro-enterprises at as low as 10% interest.
In September this year, Post Bank Uganda, committed to transforming lives and livelihoods committed Shs80 million to FSME towards value addition and financial literacy training for SMEs.
Under its Corporate Social Responsibility activity, the bank in partnership with the federation under the theme Yongela Ko Omutindo, seeks to positively affect small-sized businesses which will, in turn, improve the country’s GDP.
Julius Kakeeto, the Managing Director/CEO of Post Bank Uganda, said SMEs are very big contributors to the country’s economy which calls for carrying them along if the country is to transform.
“As part of our corporate social responsibility, we decided to provide training around value addition. We have done it in Mbarara where we looked at dairy processors, Arua where we focused on honey makers, in Lira on grain processing and here in Kampala on juice makers and tomato sauce makers,” he said.
John Walugembe, the Executive Director of FSME, revealed that in each of the selected regions (Arua, Lira, Mbarara and Kampala), they trained a total of 125 SMEs.
“We collaborated to run the Agri-SME development programme. Through this, we seek to upskill SMEs that are involved in agricultural value addition. We started by focusing on certain value chains, grains, dairy, honey and fresh fruits and vegetables. We are doing this because we think that the future of our country is in adding value to agricultural products.”
He noted that 11% of SMEs closed as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns while over 20% sold off their household assets.