Stanbic Bank has entered into a partnership with CURAD, an agribusiness incubator that trains Micro and Small to Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) farmers to explore their full potential for better productivity. CURAD is a public-private partnership initiative promoted by Makerere University, the National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises Limited (NUCAFE), National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) and the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA). It has nurtured over 130 agro-enterprises over the last 4 years.
The partnership will see Stanbic support 70 youth under CURAD with UGX 150 million over the next 3 years. The aim is to further empower the initiative to be able to support more farmers leading to agribusiness development in the country.
Speaking at the event, Stanbic Bank Head of Agriculture lending Richard Wangwe said, “Small and Medium Enterprise farmers are often over looked yet they are the highest employers in the informal sector. For this reason, they have not scaled up to their full potential. In addition, they tend to have bank deposit accounts but do not borrow from financial institutions. This partnership therefore aims to not only empower farmers to reach their full productivity potential but also come up with financial solutions that best suit their needs.”
Wangwe explained the need for business incubation in Uganda; largely due to the fact that many enterprises that fail within 3 years of their set-up.
“Business incubators are designed to nurture the growth of start-up companies and small businesses by helping them survive and grow during their early stages. SMEs play a vital role in job creation, creating a skilled workforce, facilitating private ownership, rapid response to market demands and output generation. As a bank, Agriculture is an area of key focus for us as it accounts for 20% of our revenues. We believe farmers need to have financial institutions as partners in a bid to scale them up to their full potential,” he added.
Addressing Journalists at the event, Eva Ssewaggude, the Stanbic Business Incubator Program Manager said: “With a leading customer loan portfolio of UGX 2.2 Trillion, Stanbic has been a key enabler in the agriculture sector, contributing Ushs350 billion to promote agriculture. And more importantly, with 40,000 SME clients, Stanbic bank is a key promoter of this critical underserved segment of the economy which generates 80% of our manufacturing output and 90% of new jobs created.”
“Stanbic has therefore established an SME incubator that takes SME’s through capacity building. We think it makes business sense to lengthen the life of the SME’s so they can contribute in to the growth of our economy long term. We have partnered with other institutions and subject matter experts who lead the trainings and we have so far graduated 34 SMEs,” she added.
CURAD Executive Director Apollo Sewaga said, “Uganda’s agriculture sector lacks formal supportive structures that allow SMEs, high potential start-ups and innovators to start and grow agribusinesses enterprises to their full potential, which leads to the high SME collapse rates. Secondly, agribusiness companies face high start-up capital costs that most cannot afford and due to the perceived high risk of agro enterprises, access to financing has been limited. Supporting individual entrepreneurs is costly, therefore the support given to CURAD from Stanbic will promote agribusiness development and job creation in the country.”