KAMPALA – A total of 500 Small and Medium Enterprises have been equipped with skills in agricultural value addition and financial literacy courtesy of PostBank Uganda and the Federation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises – FMSE.
In September this year, PostBank Uganda, a government financial institution that is committed to transforming lives and livelihoods committed Shs 80 million to FSME towards value addition and financial literacy trainings 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.
Speaking at the graduation of the trainees at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute – UIRI, Mr. Julius Kakeeto, the Managing Director/CEO, PostBank Uganda said that SMEs are very big contributors to the country’s economy which call 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 Mbarara where we looked at dairy processors, Arua where we focused on honey makers, in Lira – the focus was on grain processing and here in Kampala, the focus has been on juice makers and tomato sauce makers.”
Mr. Kakeeto said that the whole idea was learning how to process quality products and he is optimistic that some of the trained SMEs will grow and become bigger in the future, having utilized the acquired skills.
“In addition, we are going to provide them very subsidized banking for one year to make sure that the financial literacy they have learned doesn’t go to waste – they learn how to save, how to leverage the bank to grow their businesses and this will be at almost no cost,” he said.
John Walugembe, the Executive Director, 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.”
According to Walugembe, about 11% of SMEs closed as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns while over 20% sold off their household assets. He thanked PostBank for realizing the gap and coming onboard to address the many issues SMEs face.
Officiating at the event, Evelyn Anite Kajik, the State Minister of Finance for Investment and Privatization congratulated the trainees and commended PostBank, FSME and UIRI for the good job.
“Don’t waste the knowledge you have acquired but use it to grow,” she called on the trainees.
She also commended Ugandans for getting more aware of money-making ventures and urged them to make use of the Parish Development Model – PDM to complement their efforts.
“With money we have invested under PDM, someone who’s 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 PDM agenda by giving them financial literacy,” she said.
To overcome 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.
This money, according to her has a gross period of 4 years.
She, however, warned them to avoid diversion and utilize the borrowed money for the intended purpose.
“I’ve asked the MD Post Bank to allow each one of you to open an account free of charge but also to keep your money without charging it.”
All participants were awarded certificates.