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aBi Development unveils new business plan as its celebrates 10th anniversary

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Mrs. Sarah Walusimbi, the Chairperson Board of Directors at Agriculture Business Initiative Development (aBi) handing over a plaque of appreciation to Mr. Collins Apouyo, the Chief of Party at Development Alternatives Incorporation (DAI) and a panelist at the aBi Development Annual Stake Holders Forum and 10 Years Celebration.

Mrs. Sarah Walusimbi, the Chairperson Board of Directors at aBi Development handing over a plaque of appreciation to Mr. Collins Apouyo, the Chief of Party at Development Alternatives Incorporation during the annual Stake Holders Forum and 10 Years Celebration.

By Our Reporter

Agricultural Business Initiative Development Limited (aBi), a multi-donor company, devoted to building a competitive, profitable and sustainable agriculture and agribusiness sector in support of equitable wealth creation in Uganda, marked 10 years of existence and unveiled a new 5-year business plan at a colourful stakeholder forum held at Kampala Serena Hotel on Friday.

The forum was presided over by Hon. Matia Kasaijja, the Minister for Finance, Planning, and Economic Development and attended by a cross section of aBi stakeholders including; Development Partners, Government MDAs, aBi Implementing Partners, Financial Institutions, agribusiness private sector and relevant agribusiness advocacy platforms.

While addressing the Forum, Sarah Walusimbi, Chairperson aBi said, “Over the period 2014-18 alone, aBi Development implemented around 130 matching grant projects with a total value of an estimated USh345bn to reach over 600,000 farmers and contribute to increase in employment, household incomes and Agribusiness.”

Walusibi added that, “The thrust going forward will see aBi supporting the introduction of new Fin-Tech enabled methods to broaden and deepen financial services in rural areas to drive financial inclusion.” Further noting that, “aBi Development through its Finance division is now in position to assist a wide range of Financial Institutions (FIs) to reach out and meet the needs of agricultural businesses ranging from additional income generating businesses to the medium sized industries.”

Ms. Walusimbi observed that the targeted outcome for the new strategy is to apply more innovative financing models to strengthen the agribusiness capacity of farmer organisations (FOs) considering that the former strategy of working with FOs and NGOs in order to serve the weaker and less commercially developed value chain actors was not very successful in transforming FOs into competitive players in market systems.

Explaining the transitioning of aBi, Josephine Mukumbya, the Chief Executive Officer, noted that, “As part of the 10-year journey, 2019 saw changes in aBi’s governance aimed at making it stronger, more efficient in its decision-making, and more sustainable. In September, aBi Trust completed its transition to a new vehicle called aBi Development Ltd, a company limited by guarantee leading to the voluntary wind up of the Trust. It also birthed a new Business Plan 2019/23 currently being implemented with support from our development partners and Implementing partners.”

Since inception in 2010, aBi has channeled development funding as matching grants and Business Development Services to agricultural producers and agribusinesses to enhance their management, production, productivity, value addition, income, profitability and employment.

In his remarks, the chief guest, Hon. Kasaija, on behalf of the government commended aBi and all the development partners that have supported aBi since inception and the agricultural sector in general, namely; Governments of Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, USA, Germany, UK and European Union. “Your support towards the operationalization of the existing development cooperation agreement has supported the implementation of the National Development Plans (NDP) and the Uganda Vision 2040. In addition, by aligning your development support to the national development priorities, you are helping in transforming Uganda from a peasantry to a modern and prosperous country.” He said.

Hon. Kasaija highlighted Uganda government’s contribution to the sector. He said that, “Government is financing value chains mainly through interventions at the Ministry of Agriculture and other relevant ministries, Operation Wealth Creation, NAADS and Agriculture Credit Facility (ACF) housed in Bank of Uganda,” adding that, “Under the ACF, its uptake by government and partners has steadily increased and this is reflected in portfolio of loans disbursed amounting to UGX 331 Billion, extended to 525 projects across the country, as at March 2019.”

He further emphasized; “There is a need to increase credit access to the sector through a multipronged approach focusing on all financial institutions but with special focus on the lower tier financial institutions, as they operate in close proximity to agricultural value chain actors most constrained by limited institutional capacity and financial resources.”

During the forum, which coincided with the aBi’s 10-year anniversary, Dr. Richard Pelrine, an agricultural expert and Team Leader at GIZ Agricultural Finance Project, Nigeria delivered the keynote address under the theme; Financing Agricultural Value Chains: Balancing Strong Commercial Viability with Clear Development Objectives for Agribusiness.

The panellist were; Dr. Tumubweine Twinemanzi, Executive Director Supervision at Bank of Uganda, Ms. Damali Ssali, Trade Development Expert, Trademark East Africa, Mr. Tineyi Mawocha, Chief Executive Officer at Opportunity Bank Ltd and Mr. Collins Apuoyo, Chief of Party at Development Alternatives Incorporated (DAI) discussed the theme in depth as panelists.

Agriculture remains the major source of livelihood in Uganda. According to the Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS) 2016/17, the bigger proportion of the working population is engaged in agriculture, forestry and fishing (65%). Among the females in the working population, 70% are engaged in agriculture compared to 58% of the males.

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Local Business

Letshego Uganda offering repayment holiday to customers in wake of COVID-19 pandemic

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Giles Aijukwe, the CEO Letshego Uganda

Giles Aijukwe, the CEO Letshego Uganda

By Our Reporter

Letshego Uganda has rolled out a Repayment Holiday facility to its borrowers in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic that has gripped the world.

The repayment holiday involves giving customers a 3 month moratorium- meaning he/she/they (the borrowers) will not be required to pay their installments during that duration.

Different Heads of States, in their response to the pandemic, have implored the business community to augment government’ initiatives to offer financial relief to their customers and specifically lenders to offer repayment holidays and loan restructuring to their customers. It is in this regard that Letshego Uganda; a subsidiary of Letshego Holdings, a premier financial services company based in Botswana and with a footprint in 11 African countries has heeded to the call.

“The Repayment Holiday allows you to take some time out from the financial burden of repayments. It is important however, to note that this holiday mainly targets those customers whose businesses have been affected by Government Intervention measures during the current COVID-19 through business lockdown and closure for example those in sectors like- Education, Tourism, Transport, Leisure and Hospitality,” Aijukwe Giles, the CEO of Letshego elaborated.

The employees/clients that belong to these employers/industry sector will apply for the holiday and be approved based on the case presented. The biggest positive about a repayment holiday is that it relieves some pressure for a while. For a period of time, you have one less thing to worry about when considering outgoings.

“In line with their operational mandate, Letshego practices responsible lending and acts in a customer’s best interests, ensuring affordability, transparency of terms and conditions as well as supporting the borrower if they experience repayment difficulties. This means that by the time they have approved your loan application, they’ve made the effort to determine whether you can repay without substantial hardship,” Aijukwe affirmed.

Letshego has designed a simple application form to be signed by the customer; that will then be scanned and sent to the branch. Customers are also encouraged to use their digital and online platforms (WhatsApp and web application forms) to apply for these holidays. Furthermore, the Repayment Holiday is not only being extended to those in Kampala only but countrywide, across where we have a presence.

Aijukwe added, “A list of qualifying customers has been generated across our 45 branches countrywide and our branch teams are reaching out to them. Customers who are not yet contacted are encouraged to contact their respective branch managers and relationship officers to confirm if they qualify for the Repayment Holiday.”

Microfinance institutions were developed with the common purpose of contributing in the socio-economic changes of communities. As evidenced on numerous occasions, microfinances have exponentially uplifted the economic status of people by providing credit to individuals and skill based groups so that they are able to better their family and community stand.

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Entertainment News

StarTimes GO connects first customer

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By Reporter

With the launch of the integrated e-shopping platform StarTimes GO, the company is excited to have connected with the first customer, Sula, last weekend. After watching the TV programme StarTimes GO, Sula decided to buy a solar kit alongside with a 24″ Digital LED TV. She made a call to StarTimes to order the products and was quite pleased with the door to door delivery and installation. While receiving her order, Sula said, “I like that StarTimes can easily be accessed in terms of customer care services unlike some service providers. I was interested in buying the solar kit which helps during power blackout situations. It will also help us enjoy our family TV-watching time without worrying about unstable power supply. I was relieved to know that we can pay for the solar kit in instalments. This reduces on the financial burden. With StarTimes GO giving a special offer on plenty of products, we got a FREE two-year TV program bouquet for our solar kit!”

The captain of the car fleet for delivery, Charles, escorted the products to the customer’s home which is about 40km away from the city centre of Kampala. He said, “It is not quite convenient for a family living far away from the city centre to carry these products home. We hope that the customers can enjoy their shopping with StarTimes GO from the beginning to the end.”

Together with Charles, the whole team of delivery and installation are quite honoured to complete the mission for serving the first customer of StarTimes GO, among other customers who followed, especially when they see the smile of satisfaction on their faces.

Mr. Franklin Wang, the StarTimes CEO in Uganda remarked, “We have been thinking of the considerate services which make the digital life available to more people hence the e-shopping platform StarTimes GO. We appreciate the support and trust given by the customers; and thanks to our staff in call centre, delivery car fleet and installation team, the StarTimes GO is operating as we expected and will keep providing products of quality to the public.”

StarTimes GO has made it easier to shop digitally for the product you need. Book via StarTimes GO and enjoy great discounts be it on a decoder, TV or solar system. Order with StarTimes interactive e-shopping platform StarTimes GO at ugmall.startimestv.com or call 0701152863/ 0781962712 and your package will be delivered to you.

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CoronaVirus Uganda

Jibu Uganda donates 10,000 litres of drinking water to COVID-19 National Taskforce

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By Our Reporter

Jibu Uganda has made a donation of 10,000 litres of drinking water to the COVID-19 National Taskforce. The donation comes in the form of 2,000 bottles of 5L packaged drinking water.

According to Daniel Komunda, the Country Director of Jibu Uganda, the donation will go a long way in providing safe drinking water for vulnerable communities and the front line health workers.

“We are proud to support our government in the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic, and are humbled to provide safe drinking water for distribution to vulnerable communities and essential workers who are at highest risk during this crisis.” Daniel Komunda said.

Jibu Uganda manages a network of 30 locally-owned drinking water franchises in Kampala, and in 11 other major towns across the regions of Uganda.

Komunda also noted that all Jibu shops across the country have increased their delivery capabilities during the lockdown, and have been offering free delivery and other support services to help customers remain safe at home.

Established in 2014, Jibu Uganda is a social enterprise that capitalizes, equips and trains local entrepreneurs to operate successful franchises designed to serve local communities with radically affordable, high-quality necessities.

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Local Business

MTN Uganda hands over Ramadan food packages to Uganda Police and Muslim teachers

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By Our Reporter

In a Ramadan drive that underscores the long standing relationship between MTN Uganda and the Muslim community spanning, the telecom giant has delivered food items among other alms to the Muslims in the Uganda police force and the Uganda Muslim teachers’ association.

The items were handed over at the Nsambya police barracks and the Kibuli Muslim Teachers’ College respectively on Thursday.

Ibrahim Kagolola, the RCC Mankindye on behalf of the COVID task force, received the donation and later handed over to Omoding David Deputy director counter terrorism police who was representing the IGP.

“I thank MTN for remembering the police during Ramadan. We don’t take this generosity for granted,” said Omoding David while receiving the food packages on behalf of Uganda Police.

While handing over to the police, Ismail Hamwada Manager work force planning MTN said MTN in partnership with Salaam Foundation has always donated to Muslim communities during Ramadhan.

“This time round we are happy to be giving back to the police. As we fast and seek Allah, we hope that this donation will go a long way when breaking fast,” Hamwada said.

This year’s handovers started this week on Wednesday with Old Kampala mosque and Kibuli mosque and will go in for the entire fasting period, with the guidance of the National task force against COVID19 due to the situation presented by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The food items/alms that include sugar, rice, posho, cooking oil, beans, bar soap for hand washing and wheat flour will be distributed to the vulnerable communities especially in the areas of Kampala, Wakiso and Mukono district. MTN will be working with Salaam Foundation to reach out to the different communities during the fasting period.

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