Gender Equality and Women’s Economic Empowerment Mapping Tool: Spotlighting Opportunities for Impact in Sub-Saharan Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where women make up the majority of entrepreneurs. But, delve a little deeper and you will find that women face steep social and economic barriers to growing their businesses. While access to finance is the key constraint, they are also much more likely to be hindered due to household responsibilities and are less likely to have the market skills to advance their businesses. Removing these barriers could unleash a huge opportunity for women entrepreneurs and boost economic growth in the region.

The European Investment Bank (or EIB) launched the African Women Rising Initiative (AWRI) to support women’s economic empowerment in Sub-Saharan Africa by identifying effective environments for growth, increasing access to finance, and supporting women entrepreneurs in selected countries. The AWRI aims to strengthen women-led or -owned businesses through designing holistic, market-oriented programs, bolstering business skills, and developing gender intelligent financial services.

As a first step for the AWRI, ConsumerCentriX (CCX), as part of the Consortium with German-based technical advisory group IPC and African Management Institute (AMI), set out to identify the strongest opportunities for impacting women entrepreneurs in Africa. CCX conducted a comprehensive mapping exercise that assessed the current state of financial inclusion for women, women’s entrepreneurship and empowerment initiatives, as well as innovations in financial technology, and digital banking. Based on this exercise, the team identified countries in the region that have substantial gaps in gender equality and women’s economic empowerment, however, their macro and social environments could enable a financial sector intervention that fosters progress. 

Mapping Methodology

Women entrepreneurs are not evenly distributed across Sub-Saharan Africa. The region is made up of 48 countries at varying stages of development and some places offer a more conducive environment for women entrepreneurs to grow their businesses with the support of formal financial services. In order to better understand women’s financial and economic inclusion opportunities, we created a scoring system based on 65 publicly available indicators from sources such as the Global Findex[1]. Not all countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were surveyed by the Findex which limited the comparable data, but in many cases, other indicators were able to be substituted from other sources like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Economist Intelligence Unit, as well as Citibank and Mastercard data that illustrate macroeconomic, demographic, political-regulatory, and socioeconomic dynamics within each country. Additional sector-specific datasets contributed a broader understanding of the stage of development and inclusiveness of the financial sector. We then ranked each country according to their stage of development as indicated by the gross national income (GNI) per capita and compared them based on the indicators.

The indicators were categorized into four overarching themes that tested each country’s receptivity to potential financial inclusion efforts based on their legal or socio-cultural constraints and women’s access to finance. The categories included:

  1. Enabling Environment: Provided a snapshot of each country’s development stage by assessing the general economic and demographic environment through indicators like conflict, debt, GNI per capita and GDP, and population characteristics;
  2. Women’s Inclusion and Human Capital: Assessed women’s socio-economic position including factors that influence their productivity and opportunity to build capital;
  3. Women’s Entrepreneurship: Analyzed the ease of doing business in each country and women’s typical role within the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector; and
  4. Financial Sector: Focused on the availability of financial services through different channels, the regulatory environment, and the sector’s inclusivity and capacity to serve entrepreneurs with financing.

Ultimately, the CCX team created an effective tool that swiftly facilitates benchmarking of countries in Africa (and beyond) for our work on impact consulting in women’s financial inclusion and entrepreneurship support. Additionally, the tool includes permanent links to the respective databases utilized for the mapping exercise.

Results

During the mapping exercise, 19 countries were immediately omitted from the selection process based on insurmountable obstacles to a long-term technical assistance engagement like extensive violent conflict and significant debt distress. Countries with extremely small populations were also not carried onto the shortlist due to their lack of scalability and potential impact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In order to narrow the playing field even further, we categorized countries in Sub-Saharan Africa into five groups based on their development stage. Each country was ranked according to threshold criteria against peer countries within each group. Countries were excluded from consideration if the socio-economic challenges or gender gaps they were facing could not be realistically addressed with financial inclusion or women’s economic empowerment initiatives. To advance to the next round, countries needed to score 60-70% on average across all indicators when compared to the top country within each group.

Countries that met the threshold had significant room for improvement in women’s entrepreneurship and inclusivity in the formal financial sector that could be addressed by the areas intended for the AWRI technical assistance, namely empowering women entrepreneurs and creating gender-intelligent and innovative SME financing solutions. In other words: these countries indicated a substantial potential for growth compared to their best-in-class African peers, while also presenting a sufficiently conducive environment for impact through the AWRI support.

Based on this scoring system, a shortlist of 16 countries qualified including Benin, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda.

EIB selected Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Senegal, and Uganda were selected as the four finalists. These countries have healthy percentages of  SMEs t

hat are women-led or -owned, have financial institutions with existing relationships with EIB that are interested in better serving women entrepreneurs, show strong potential for growth with existing conducive regulatory and social environments and/or the opportunity to leverage digital channels to deepen financial inclusion and women’s economic empowerment.

Below is  brief overview of the four finalist countries:

  • Côte d’Ivoire is the business hub of French-speaking West Africa with strong prevalence of private business and self-employment with an established financial sector, fast-growing microfinance activity and strong digital uptake;
  • Rwanda has high women’s labor force participation (84%) and a supportive public sector, a national financial inclusion strategy and investment climate which offers strong opportunities for digitization;
  • Senegal is a majority Muslim country that has a relatively high degree of gender equality in early-stage entrepreneurship, with a high share of female entrepreneurship and strong remittances which could serve as a source of funding for women business owners; and
  • Uganda is an attractive market for business investment given its stable economy, large market, and the size of its labor force with a financial inclusion strategy that is generally supportive of women’s economic activities.

The mapping exercise was successful in identifying countries in the region that are more favorable to women’s economic inclusion and empowerment and serves as a useful tool for understanding country contexts in the financial sector in other regions throughout the world.

Women in Sub-Saharan Africa face universal constraints as entrepreneurs and EIB’s AWRI program will now support organizations that can increase women’s financial inclusion by developing quality programs involving access to finance, training and other non-financial services to support woman entrepreneurs’ growth.

[1] The Global Findex is a publicly available data set on how adults save, borrow, make payments and manage risk that is published every three years by the World Bank. Data is collected in partnership with over 140 economies through nationally representative surveys.


ConsumerCentriX launches Compassionate Leadership for Entrepreneurs to support wellbeing of small business owners

ConsumerCentriX is launching Compassionate Leadership for Entrepreneurs to support small business owners as they navigate uncertain times. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disorienting effect on global health, economic activity, and our daily lives both professionally and personally. Business owners and entrepreneurs have been among those most affected by COVID-19 as lockdowns and border closures made it nearly impossible for them to continue their day-to-day operations. As small business owners work to recover from the effects of the pandemic, personal wellbeing should be a priority, as it affects decision-making, employee management, and ultimately a business’ bottom line.

Compassionate Leadership for Entrepreneurs will feature a series of informative blogs, webinars, and a local radio show that explore tools and tips for business owners to positively impact their wellbeing. The initiative draws on the concept of compassionate leadership, which is defined as interacting as a leader in ways that exhibit compassion for oneself and in relationship to others as well as acting intentionally to create positive impact in the world as a whole.[1] The first of three webinars in the Compassionate Leadership Public Engagement Series launches on November 4th, 2021 in partnership with Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited. In Rwanda, the Building Back Healthier Series launched with a local radio show held October 25. Two additional webinars are scheduled to take place this fall, the next in mid-November.

In tough business environments, leading with compassion takes courage and is rewarded with resilience. Compassionate Leadership for Entrepreneurs will take a deep dive into the positive impact of compassionate leadership and the importance of focusing on personal wellbeing. Stay tuned as we share strategies and tools to help entrepreneurs foster better work environments, build better business outcomes, and lead with compassion.

[1] Center for Compassionate Leadership. July 9, 2019. “What is Compassionate Leadership?


ConsumerCentriX and Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited to Launch Compassionate Leadership Series on 4th November 2021

In partnership with ConsumerCentriX, Stanbic Bank is pleased to have the opportunity to introduce the Compassionate Leadership Public Engagement Series.

The Series will consist of three webinars featuring compassionate leaders and technical persons in our community, that will help us understand how they have effectively led their organizations and provide practical tools in overcoming the challenges brought by the pandemic.

The inaugural conversation, Leading with Heart – “adapting to a new normal in a tough business environment”, will be launched on 4th November 2021 at 2 pm and will be moderated by Maurice Mugisha, with Anne Juuko, Stanbic Bank CE, Wim Vanhelleputte, Chief Executive MTN (U) LTD, and Thadeus Musoke Nagenda, Ag. Chairman KACITA, as panellists.

Don’t miss the opportunity to participate!

To register for the webinar, visit: Webinar Registration


Strategies that can help save your business and plan for the unexpected

Due to the pandemic, many businesses have experienced new and significant operational challenges such as inadequate cash flow, decreased demand, and supply chain disruptions resulting from lockdown restrictions. According to the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC), 50% of businesses in Uganda had to close operations at least temporarily for an average of over three months. These challenges were unprecedented and have made it clear how disruptive a crisis can be. Most companies were unprepared and as a result, some have closed operations permanently. Others have struggled to get back on their feet.

Here is where a business continuity plan can be a critical tool enabling businesses not only to survive but potentially to thrive even during a crisis. A business continuity plan is a document that outlines how a business will continue operating during an unplanned disruption. It guides businesses on how to reassign resources and communicate effectively internally and externally, all key components to maintain operations even during challenging times.

Because developing a business continuity plan may be a new concept for small business owners, in September, the COVID-19 Business Information Hub focused on guiding entrepreneurs in their development. We had insightful discussions with stakeholders and businesses who implemented a variety of business continuity strategies during the pandemic, and here is what we learnt:

Conducting a risk assessment: The first thing that every business owner should do is assess the risk and vulnerability of their business. This can be easily done using a tool that the International Labor Organization (ILO) provides free of charge. The ILO also outlines a six-step process to develop the business continuity plan with a key focus on four main elements (People, Process, Profits, and Partnerships). We spoke with John Kakungulu Walugembe of Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises-Uganda (FSME), who explained in detail what the 4Ps stand for and how businesses can use the six-step plan to their advantage. (click here to access the special interview with John Walugumbe).

Determining critical activities: Business owners need to define critical activities needed to continue to operate during a crisis. Businesses should immediately identify actions to take based on the risk exposure. Lilian Katiso of Mau and More, a company that sells potted plants, recognized that watering plants was critical to mitigate the risk of losing her inventory due to withering. The business decided to purchase a motorcycle to facilitate one staff to do the watering during the lockdown.

Establishing an internal communication plan: A communication plan outlines how teams and employees may best communicate with each other to support the company’s objectives. It helps increase communication frequency and promotes the dissemination of information about what is happening within the company and the employees. Toddler’s Gold  implemented a communications plan including regular meetings to discuss business targets and understand staff welfare. As a result, their sales grew during the lockdown.

Embracing technology and digital platforms: Technology helps to support business operations during challenging times. When regular work arrangements were disrupted, and we saw a shift to remote work, Rajab Mukasa, Director at Pique Nique Ltd, adopted mobile money and the use of agents to complete his banking activities. It allowed the company to order by phone and pay suppliers remotely instead of using cash.

The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have set a new preparedness benchmark and demonstrated that small businesses need to continuously adapt and evolve their strategies to better prepare for future risks. Joseph Walusimbi a national coach and trainer with the International Trade Center (ITC), an agency of the United Nations, encourages entrepreneurs to embrace business continuity plans to prepare for uncertainty. He also highlighted the potential need for external financing to implement specific activities. Businesses should seek financing options focusing on recovery, innovation, adaptation and sustainability, such as the Economic Enterprise Restart Fund available at Stanbic Bank Uganda or credit guarantee schemes that shift risk from the private to the public sector.

 

 


The SME Response Clinic Partners with KCB Bank

The SME Response Clinic Partners with KCB Bank  

A version of this article was originally posted on the SME Response Clinic

The SME Response Clinic has partnered with KCB Bank Rwanda as part of our ongoing efforts to bring entrepreneurs even closer to financial institutions that offer access to finance and non-financial services to meet business needs through COVID-19 and beyond.  

Through this partnership, entrepreneurs will have access to timely information on KCB Bank’s financial products as well as non-financial services such as KCB Bank’s Biashara Club, which features preferential offerings, trainings, business workshops, and networking opportunities. Through the partnership, SME Response Clinic visitors will also have a direct line to the institution at +250788140000. 

We are excited about the  opportunities this partnership can create for your businesses, and we look forward to providing you with regular updates on KCB Bank’s products and services! 


Training

ConsumerCentriX best-in-class training to support financial institutions serving the SME segment goes virtual

ConsumerCentriX best-in-class training to support financial institutions serving the SME segment goes virtual

ConsumerCentriX has a long history of working to support financial institutions serving small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs).

SMEs face a tremendous financing gap, and many do not have access to the kinds of business development services that make them stronger potential borrowers with the skills to grow their businesses as usual or to manage disruptions like COVID-19. SMEs face unique challenges and have specific needs.

On the other hand, financial institutions have a hard time grappling with understanding the full financial picture of many businesses in this segment, and as a result, find it challenging to lend to SME entrepreneurs, whose recordkeeping varies and who may bank with multiple banks (or none at all).

The financial institutions that serve SMEs – both those who want to serve them for the first time and those who want to serve them better – need to consider implementing an approach that enables them to better understand their SME customers: a relationship management approach. This approach entails establishing and maintaining long-term relationship with customers centered around providing solutions that meet customer needs rather than just promoting one product or service. In turn, this ensures a greater share of wallet for the bank.

Effective relationship management in SME banking requires strong Relationship Managers with skills in connecting with customers and understanding how to analyze businesses in this unique segment as well as in monitoring post-disbursement to address potential issues before they arise or to identify additional needs customers may have. Earlier this year, ConsumerCentriX developed and launched a four-part virtual training program to support Relationship Managers in honing their skills to better serve the SME segment. The best-in-class curriculum centers around four key areas essential to serving SMEs:

Relationship Management

Provides trainees with foundational skills needed to build a relationship with customers and real-life examples to complement learnings

Gender Awareness

Identifies and addresses potential biases trainees may have in approaching or assessing women entrepreneurs

Business and Credit Analysis

Focuses on techniques to collect, cross-check, and analyze business information to conduct an efficient credit analysis using quantitative and qualitative information

Decision Formalization and Portfolio Management

Hones trainees’ technical skills in preparing credit proposals, including identifying potential risks and mitigation strategies that are monitored from loan origination throughout the repayment period.

ConsumerCentriX transformed these topics, normally covered in 8 days of in-person classroom training, into 4 online modules with 26 mini-sessions of between 20 and 45 minutes. The mini-sessions include animations, exercises, and videos that aim to bring life to self-paced virtual learning.

We recently piloted the training with Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited (SBU), one of the largest commercial banks in Uganda with a strong footprint among SMEs that aims to expand its reach and deepen its engagement in the sector.

What have we learned?

While the pilot is still underway, ConsumerCentriX is already seeing results and has been able to leverage preliminary learnings to make small tweaks to enhance the effectiveness of the virtual training.

Importantly, trainees are successfully learning the theoretical knowledge presented in the self-paced virtual sessions. While online learning has become frequent due to COVID-19, the sessions developed for this training are short and as interactive as possible to avoid some of the fatigue that has become common with participating in online events.

Pearl Akol, an Enterprise Direct Business Banker at SBU, shared that as a result of completing the relationship management component of the online training, she has “understood that you have to listen to the customer carefully and match a solution to the customer’s need” rather than to focus on selling a particular product. It transforms the way she approaches conversations with new and existing customers and is sure to have an impact on the bank’s bottom line. For Alex Insingoma, an Enterprise Direct Business Banker, the gender awareness module was eye-opening. “After going through this training, I was able to recognize the importance of women in business given their big numbers and their unique way of running businesses,” he said.

While theoretical knowledge can be effectively transmitted through self-paced virtual sessions, live online discussions and practice sessions best ensure information is internalized by trainees. Typically, ConsumerCentriX follows up our in-person SME training programs with hands-on coaching and mentoring done with trainees at their branches and in the field. This kind of approach can be difficult to replicate online, but other techniques can be used instead. We incorporated live virtual coaching sessions moderated by our expert SME team to smaller groups of 5-7 people for 1.5 hours at a time. They focus on addressing main challenges faced by participants on any of the content, provide a dedicated time for trainees to practice specific tools or skills acquired, and offer participants the opportunity to discuss real case studies from actual entrepreneurs.

Lastly, proper planning and oversight by the financial institution are critical to success. ConsumerCentriX usually conducts multiple planning meetings in advance of in-person training to outline the objectives, ensure staff availability, and to identify how outcomes will be tracked in close collaboration with the partner financial institution. These steps cannot be skipped for virtual learning.

  • First, an institution needs to identify its goals – particularly the behavior changes and outcomes that it aims to see as a result of the training.
  • Then, time needs to be set aside for staff to complete the training – this can be a number of hours per day or week within a certain period of time. This needs to be communicated to staff, and follow-ups should be conducted by managers to ensure staff are completing modules within designated deadlines.
  • Finally, the institution needs to identify the key performance indicators it will track to understand outcomes – if a financial institution wants to see additional business generated as a result of the training, key performance indicators around new leads or a greater share of wallet should be clearly communicated at the start of training, monitored during training, and tracked over time once training is completed.

ConsumerCentriX looks forward to completing the pilot training with SBU over the next few months and partnering with other financial institutions across Sub-Saharan Africa and beyond to continue to serve SMEs despite challenging times. If you are interested in learning more or partnering with us, contact info@consumercentrix.ch.

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business continuity plan

Developing a Business Continuity Plan for Your Enterprise

ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

The COVID-19 Business Info Hub spoke with John Kakungulu Walugembe of the Federation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises-Uganda (FSME) to understand the importance of developing a business continuity plan for enterprises and how this helps to build resilience during challenging times. A business continuity plan can be defined as a document that outlines how a business will continue operating during an unplanned disruption in service. It contains contingencies for business processes, assets, human resources, and business partners – every aspect of the business that might be affected.

John K. Walugembe is the Executive Director of FSME, the umbrella/business association that brings together over 112,000 micro, small and medium-sized enterprises across 20 sectors in the country. Here’s what John had to say about the importance of business continuity plans in light of circumstances brought about by disruptions like the pandemic:

 

“Many businesses don’t have business continuity plans and do not know why they need to develop them.”

 

The impact of the pandemic on the MSME sector is unprecedented. Many businesses are closed, others have limited demand, and many are struggling to pay their staff. Businesses face challenges they have never encountered before and disruptions at overwhelming levels. So, “when we are talking about business recovery and resilience, we are trying to ensure that businesses get back to their pre-pandemic level” of operations. Business continuity plans can help businesses in doing just that. However, many entrepreneurs do not know what they are or how to go about putting them together.

 

FSME worked with International Labor Organization (ILO) to assist 200 MSMEs to come up with a business continuity plan according to a six-step process developed by the ILO.

 

FSME used the ILO’s six-step process for putting together a business continuity plan, which starts with an assessment of risk.

To assess the level of risk and vulnerability faced by a company, business owners need to focus on the 4Ps below and can assess their level of risk using the link included above.

People

How are your workers and their families affected by COVID-19?

Processes

How are the everyday operations of your business affected?

Profits

To what extent is your income and revenue affected?

Partnerships

How is the environment around your business affected by COVID?

Next, businesses must follow six steps as outlined below.

Step 1: Identify your key products or services.

Step 2: Establish the objective of your plan.

Step 3: Evaluate the potential impact of disruptions on your enterprise and workers.

Step 4: List actions to protect/minimize risks to your business

Step 5: Establish contact lists for non-physical activities (WhatsApp calls, Zoom meetings etc.).

Step 6: Maintain, review, and continuously update your plan.

 

“SMEs should also network and reach out for help.”

 

Although business continuity plans help answer questions about how your business can continue operations in moments of crisis, companies need to be agile and adapt plans to changing circumstances. One way to do this is by reaching out for support from organizations like FSME and to other business development service providers. Businesses can also reach out to their networks for ideas and support.

FSME is keen to support SMEs when and where possible, so please reach out to the organization via Tel at 0774147864 or via email at info@fsmeuganda.org or at john.walugembe@fsmeuganda.org


Stanbic Business Incubator Chief Executive Gives an Overview of the Opportunities for SMEs in the Oil and Gas Value Chain in Uganda

Stanbic Business Incubator Chief Executive gives an overview of the opportunities for SMEs in the Oil and Gas Value Chain in Uganda

Ernest Wasake:   Good morning, Comrade Tony Otoa; I hope this finds you well. How have you been holding up during this period of the pandemic? 

Tony Otoa:   Thank you very much for hosting me. I have been great.

I have had a great time of learning, growing and understanding how to do things differently—and now we are getting used to doing different things to make things happen.

Ernest Wasake:  Could you give us an overview of the Oil and Gas Value Chain in Uganda?

Tony Otoa: The Oil and Gas Value Chain is a very vast and intense one. It is a great value chain with many opportunities, especially in the local context.

The chain has upstream, midstream and downstream project segments. The upstream project is about the drilling, construction and civil works. In the midstream project, you have the oil pipeline of 1400-kilometre from Hoima in Uganda to the Tanga Port in Tanzania. The downstream, which is already evident in the country, is available for many local entities to deliver the final oil products to the consumers. There is less local participation in the upstream and the midstream projects because they are technical and capital intensive.

The Oil and Gas Value Chain in Uganda is an exciting opportunity for many local people. Opportunities include a wide range of jobs created plus the provision of services and goods in the downstream operations. With close to 15,000 workers to be employed directly, there will be a big need for food, accommodation, and health services, among others. When we talk about food, agriculture becomes a critical focus area, presenting many opportunities to benefit from.

Ernest Wasake:  Great, please tell us about the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited’s role in the Oil and Gas Value Chain?

Tony Otoa:  The Incubator’s role is very interesting and has been evident for quite some time.

We do not see ourselves as a stand-alone financial entity but as an entity supporting Oil and Gas Value Chain players. The Stanbic Business Incubator has concentrated on training and making Ugandan businesses astute over the last three years. When I speak about astute, I mean ensuring the visibility of demand, letting them know what opportunities are coming their way, and training them to become efficient, sustainable, and thrive.

There is no doubt that Ugandan businesses will seize the Oil and Gas sector opportunities with the Incubator’s support. For example, some companies that have come out of the incubator program are now huge players in the Oil and Gas space. One of the companies is Inspecta Africa, a company providing services to the Chinese National Offshore Oil Company (CNOOC) and has gone on to forge international partnerships with businesses across the region.

We also want to create stories that speak to employability for young people and steer financial rotation in the sector. We hope that as we support local businesses to become better, we can see many companies improving and actively participating in the industry. In the early times, not many Ugandan companies actively participated during the exploration and the appraisal phase. Many of them were sub, sub, sub, subcontractors. We want our companies to be contractors or subcontractors who are making real revenue and not breadcrumbs.

Ernest Wasake: Thank you for the excellent overview. What opportunities exist for SMEs in the Value Chain?

Tony Otoa:  Enormous opportunities exist for SMEs in the Value Chain.

As you all know, the Government of Uganda has been very deliberate in ring-fencing some areas for local businesses. So Ugandan SMEs have priority when it comes to these opportunities. Some of these include civil work construction, transport logistics, catering, hospitality, security, manpower, etc. SMEs simply need to understand and prepare to apply for the opportunities.

As a business, you might have been in operation for a long time, but for as long as you have not gone the extra mile to make yourself known and active in the Oil and Gas space, it will be hard to participate. First, the Oil and Gas sector is capital intensive. Businesses need time to develop and become attractive to financing. That financing is now readily available.

Second, seek to understand the sector more by engaging with the different sector actors. We now see a trend of the Oil and Gas sector now coming back into the arena. Businesses need to seek partners to make this a reality through joint venture partnerships with local and international companies. If SMEs can do that, then we are doing well as a country because the sector proves that growth is possible.

Ernest Wasake: What policies exist to encourage SME participation in the Value Chain? 

Tony Otoa:  Uganda has done well in terms of policy and regulations for the Oil and Gas sector.

When we compare with countries like Nigeria, which has been producing oil for over 60 years, their local content regulations and laws came into play around 2010/2011. For Uganda, even before the Oil and Gas activities were fully operational, we created those laws, regulations and policies, which is a good step. We have policies that support the participation of local businesses in the Oil and Gas space under the local content policy. Some sector activities are ring-fenced for Ugandan companies, which is a great starting point.

These laws and policies are great, but if we do not have Ugandan SMEs who can manage to participate in that space, the law also allows foreign entities to take over the space. So it is upon us to take advantage of the policies and maximize the available opportunities.

Ernest Wasake: What would it take to increase SMEs’ level of participation in the Oil and Gas Value Chain? 

Tony Otoa:   We can do a lot to increase SMEs’ participation in the Value Chain.

I will share a story to answer the question. In 2018, I knew a company while I was at Total E&P as National Content Manager. This company wanted to do what the big players like Schlumberger, Halliburton, and Baker Hughes were doing. The company kept on bidding for those opportunities, but unfortunately, they kept falling off the grid. Why? They did not have what it took to participate in the sector. They had no policies in place. When we brought them on board at the Incubator, we trained them on a three-month program and coached them for close to nine months. During the same time, we supported them to get ISO certification and other certifications. As I speak today, the same company supports CNOOC in various operations and project work for an international logistics company.  That shows you that it is possible in a short period for a small company to become a great participant in the Oil and Gas Value Chain, employ many people and create value in the country. This story speaks to the many businesses that still have the dream and hope of participating in the Oil and Gas sector.

Lastly now that the Final Investment Decision (FID) is soon, it is a signal to an excellent start for Ugandans participating in the Oil and Gas sector. But like the gun at a race, if you are not ready when the sound goes off, you are not prepared, and whoever is prepared will take on this whole race. Therefor SMEs need preparation to benefit from this value chain. As the Stanbic Business Incubator together with our partners we support SME preparation through training, information sharing and creating visibility over demand. We are positive that with these interventions we shall have more SMEs participating in the Oil and Gas value chain.


One Farm Platform

Learn How Stanbic Bank Uganda's One Farm Platform Promotes Business Linkages Within the Agribusiness Sector

A version of this article was originally posted on the Covid-19 Business Info Hub.

The COVID-19 Business Info Hub spoke to Christian Karamagi, Innovation Lead at Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited (SBUL), to understand how the One Farm Platform is creating business linkages within the agribusiness sector in Uganda. Read along to find out more.

What is the One Farm Platform?

The One Farm Platform, which is channel partner-led, is essentially a data-driven digital solution that creates business linkages within the agribusiness ecosystem, especially between smallholder and enterprise service providers like banks, insurance companies, exporters, and manufacturers. The platform has two main components. The first is supply certainty, the assurance that there is the right quality and quantity at the right time. The second is supply optimization, which is about empowering smallholders to produce at maximum capacity. The components are critical for SMEs to forecast the crop to buy from farmers, which helps builds trust between the farmers and SMEs.

Information is critical to creating meaningful linkages. The platform captures data on; location, acreage, and inputs to prepare data profiles of the farmers. This data is aggregated to estimate total production in each area and shared with off-takers or SMEs and other service providers. The profiling helps formalize the sector by providing farmers with a digital identity, giving them access to finance, insurance, agronomy and market linkage. It also helps the users grow their farming business, giving them credit and financial history, creating trust, increasing productivity, improving access to markets, and managing counterparty risk. SMEs use this information to make business decisions on where to source, when to supply the clients and the financing source. Other service providers, such as input suppliers, can project and plan for demand from the farmers.

The platform delivers its benefits to the users through the categories below:

  • Lend: is credit, including farmer production loans and value chain financing.
  • Protect: this is savings and insurance currently weather-based index.
  • Trade: this is the linkage within the marketplace, allowing SMEs to tap into the out-grower database. It includes a digital marketplace.
  • Grow: this focuses on offering agronomic services to farmers to enable them to grow their crops well.
  • Share: this refers to reaching out to communities with available food to feed the hungry.

How does the bank facilitate the participation of different actors on the platform? 

The platform is channel partner enabled. The bank has various approaches to engaging different actors on the platform, as elaborated below.

We are adopting multiple repayment options for the SMEs and farmers who have received lending using our hybrid models. It allows them to pay conveniently and access additional financing for their operations.

Delivery of timely financial services to suit the agricultural seasons when farmers need the finance through One Farm Lend. We know that farmers may miss out on the planting season in case of delays in the availability of financing to buy inputs. We manage the lending process to ensure that farmers apply for financing well in time to avoid any delays.

Establishing partnerships with NGOs/Donors, fintech & Agritechs, input suppliers, equipment leasing companies, and insurance providers has helped us increase the use of the platform. Working with the various partners brings onboard a broad range of services, experience and expertise that platform users can tap into.

We have embedded financial literacy and agricultural extension services for farmers and SMEs through One Farm Grow. These are influencing behavioural change, adopting new technologies, and best practices for sustainable solutions.

What is the future of the platform?

Our vision is to have the One Farm platform as the leading ecosystem driver in Uganda’s agriculture sector. Scaling up for the platform is also underway, which means capacity and capability initiatives. The first plan is to increase the number of data profiles to 20,000 profiles by June 2021. Second, we plan to incorporate more value chains from maize to coffee, beans, barley and oilseeds. We continue to engage different stakeholders and partners, especially SMEs, as buyers, SACCOs and fintech & Agri-techs, facilitating the development of value chains. Finally, we plan to empower young people to integrate such digital solutions into farm practices because we understand that the future of digitization in agriculture lies with the youth.


agribusiness

What we learned this month about how to promote recovery in Uganda’s agribusiness sector

ConsumerCentriX works closely with Stanbic Bank Uganda on both the COVID-19 Business Info Hub and the Stanbic Business Incubator. This article originally appeared on the COVID-19 Business Info Hub.

In July, the COVID-19 Business Info Hub focused its efforts on understanding recovery mechanisms and opportunities for the agribusiness sector. We engaged with many stakeholders, including SMEs, financing institutions, and organizations offering support to the industry. Here is what we learnt!

 

The agribusiness sector has faced a number of challenges. 

Just as SMEs were recovering from the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the second wave hit the country in May 2021. This led to another lockdown during June and July, which has brought more difficulties for SMEs operating in this environment. Some of the challenges faced by the businesses include:

  • Supply chain disruptions especially delayed transportation both by road and air cargo for agricultural inputs and products because of movement restrictions.
  • Working capital constraints because of reduced sales and delayed payments, which affect operational efficiency.
  • Reduced demand and price for agricultural products because buyers cannot easily access markets due to the lockdown.
  • Increased cost in retaining essential human resources as businesses work to keep staff on the payroll despite reduced operations to avoid losing critical talent to competition.

As a result of these challenges, SMEs have used up their cash reserves and thus need financial and non-financial support to recover.

 

Several organizations are providing support to help agribusinesses recover. 

Different sector players that we spoke to shared interventions they have in place to support businesses to stay afloat during the pandemic. Some are included here below:

aXiom Zorn creates digital profiles for farmers and agribusinesses to enable them to access financial services. The digital profiles capture data that builds a credit score for the farmer or the business. A credit score of 60% allows the farmer or agribusiness to access financing from a bank.

Stanbic Bank Uganda provides affordable loans to Savings Credit and Cooperative Societies (SACCOs) and farmer groups. SACCOs and farmer groups receiving these funds can then offer affordable loans to their members. Learn more about other interventions of the bank to reduce the financing gap in the financial sector.

Agricultural Business Initiative (aBi) promotes access to agricultural inputs by availing subsidized inputs to farmers to plant within the season. aBi Finance has also tweaked its credit guarantee product for partner financial institutions to help them to lend to customers with better terms.

Palladium is implementing a program to link farmers to service providers and markets via commercial agents. Through the model, over 80 businesses have benefitted to date with increased income.

 

Agribusinesses can implement a three-step plan to speed up the road to recovery. 

SMEs need to seek information to understand the shifts in the consumption, production and trade within the sector to plan for recovery and build resilience. Here is a three-step recovery pathway that SMEs can adopt;

  • Reflect: Pause and think about the impact COVID-19 has had on the business. Analyze what has worked during the period, lessons learnt and what needs to change. Then, adopt a holistic work approach to consolidate the best practices and manage change while maintaining a safe work environment.
  • Restart: Identify steps required to “restart” – maybe a new business process, a new product, or service line to fit in the new normal. Mobilize the necessary resources and take action.
  • Revitalize: Revisit the business environment to seize available opportunities along the value chain. SMEs need to optimize opportunities within the supply chain. They can improve volume flexibility, enhance delivery performance and identify areas where technology can help streamline processes to minimize costs.

 

For faster sector recovery, stakeholders also need to actively engage with the businesses to help them innovate and expand into new markets more than ever before.

 

SMEs can access information on:

Agribusiness financing from Stanbic Bank Uganda  

Call: 0800250250

WhatsApp: 0770588623

Visit:  www.stanbic.co.ug

 

Innovative digital solutions from aXiom Zorn 

Tel: +256 200 951 713/+256 200 903 099

Email: info@axiomzorn.com

Visit:  https://axiomzorn.com/

 

Commercial Agent Model from Palladium

Tel:   +256 774 040751

Email: jackline.kitongo@thepalladiumgroup.com

Visit: https://thepalladiumgroup.com/