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Ugandan agricultural firm wins American Award for Corporate Excellence in Sustainable Operations

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Farmers being trained at the Asilis Farms in Kigumba.

By Our Reporter

Agilis Partners (Agilis), a Uganda-based food and agriculture enterprise, has been announced winner of the 2019 United States Secretary of State’s Award for Corporate Excellence in Sustainable Operations (ACE). ACE recognizes American-owned companies that lead in spurring the sustainable development of the local communities in which they operate.

Agilis is a leading wholesaler of grains and pulses sourced from smallholder farmers and its own 13,500 acres of primary production. Through trainings on sustainable cultivation and post-harvest handling practices, the company empowers rural communities to achieve bigger harvests on healthier soils. Agilis’s mission is to empower Ugandans to sustainably feed Africa.

“Agilis is committed to leveraging our unique business model, fueled by private capital, to transform rural communities and catalyze a more food-secure Africa. We are humbled and honored to have the U.S. Government recognize our efforts,” said Benjamin Prinz, Co-Founder of Agilis.

Established in 1999, the ACE seeks to highlight ways in which companies represent American values in the way they do business, in line with international best practices such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises.

“Uganda has unique potential to nourish a growing Africa. We are excited to partner with Ugandans to unlock the potential in an inclusive and sustainable way,” said Philipp Prinz, Co-Founder of Agilis.

Agilis prides itself as an American-Ugandan company. Agilis and its subsidiaries are members of The Grain Council of Uganda, a leading force in formalizing the Ugandan grain industry. Progressive policies implemented by H.E. the President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni and Ministries of Agriculture, Trade and Finance have created a positive investment environment for businesses like Agilis.

Agriculture is one of the most vital sectors of the Ugandan economy contributing about 20% of its GDP and accounting for about 48% of exports. The agriculture sector employs 73% of the population with close to 4 million households surviving on small-scale farming. Agilis envisions a food system in which these households participate in the prosperity Ugandan agriculture offers.

“Over 60% of Ugandans are employed in the agricultural sector but less than 5% are in wage earning jobs in the sector. That means that the population is spending a lot of time in agriculture but not in a commercial setting. We are creating the gateway for employees to flourish,” Eduardo Browne, Co-Founder of Agilis explained.

Past winners of the ACE include General Motors, Colombia, Motorola, Brazil, Coca-Cola, Egypt and Ford Motor Company, South Africa, among others.

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Local Business

Equity bank rebrands

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Equity Bank Kenya Board Chairman Prof. Isaac Macharia and Equity Group Managing Director and CEO Dr James Mwangi take a selfie with the newly unveiled Equity identity at the Group headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

By Our Reporter

Equity Group Holdings Plc has unveiled a new unified brand identity, signalling its next frontier in delivering a seamless customer experience across markets and across demographic segments.

Speaking while unveiling the new identity in Nairobi, Equity Group Managing Director and CEO Dr James Mwangi said that the new identity matches the new realities, business model, customer segments and preferences, and the evolving digital space.

He also noted they have preserved the essence of the Groups brand retaining the best heritage from the past, while introducing the best of the future.

Equity maintains that the fresh identity will enable it to focus on key areas that will see it remain relevant diverse and current consumer needs. This, it adds, will be achieved through spurring economic growth by empowering consumers; businesses and enterprises through innovative solutions, infusing digital capabilities at all touch points, while nurturing existing and building new relationships.

In a bid to unlock new opportunities within the growing digital banking space, Equity will continually focus on operational efficiencies, driven through innovations and re-engineering of its value chain. Customers will be further enabled to interact with the bank on self-service channels of mobile and internet devices or on the 3rd party low variable cost infrastructure.

With operations strategically located in 9 countries in Eastern and Central Africa namely Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and now Zambia, Mozambique and Ethiopia, the new look and outlook come with the promise of accelerated growth and expansion, while delivering financial tools designed to unlock social economic potential, create wealth and accelerate transformation of households and enterprises across Africa.

The refreshed look will first roll out in Kenya where the story of the Equity brand started 35 years ago and eventually in all other markets where the Group has established its presence in Africa.

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Over 400 Kampala women entrepreneurs undergo business training

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Businesswomen at the dfcu Bank Rising Woman Initiative training in Kampala.

By Our Reporter

Over 400 women entrepreneurs have benefited from a business training in Kampala organised by dfcu bank in partnership with Daily Monitor and Uganda Investment Authority. This marks the climax of a series of Business trainings that have been running across the country under the Rising Woman Initiative regional tours in Western – Ishaka, Eastern – Mbale, Northern – Gulu and Central Kampala mentoring women in business in fields such as business basics, business planning and enterprise management skills (Marketing skills, Communication, Recordkeeping and finance. A total of of over 1,200 women have benefited from these trainings. This brings to 2,700 the number of women who have been trained under the Rising Woman Initiative that’s currently in its second year.

The initiative is aimed at recognising and rewarding a culture of mentorship among women in Business in Uganda. This initiative is running for a second consecutive year will see over 100 women showcasing their products and services at an Expo that has been organised for Friday 15th and Saturday 16th November 2019 at Hotel Africana starting at 9:00 am.

The Expo is a culmination of the 2019 Rising Woman Initiative launched on June 19th 2019. The 2019 Expo will provide an opportunity for women-owned business and entrepreneurs to share knowledge and move their business forward. Over 200 exhibitors and attendees are expected to attend the two-day Expo. The women entrepreneurs have also been offered an opportunity for their businesses to be profiled and advertising space in selected media.

According to Victoria Byenkya Head of Women in Business program at dfcu, women-led businesses often fail due to diverse challenges but on top of the list is lack of information, financial constraints, social barriers and skill set gaps. Through these trainings, these gaps are being bridged at a free cost thereby working at creating an enabling environment for women entrepreneurs to flourish.

Joan Akumu who runs a confectionary business said “Marketing has always been my challenge since I am a sole entrepreneur. I do my work from home and I have to market it myself. This training has exposed me to better practices and I believe I will stand out once I implement this knowledge.”

According to Esther Kisaakye a Health and Nutritionist Marketer, who attended the training, it’s easy to forget the most essential things when running a business. “This training has reminded me and I have also learnt the business principles that I need to take my business forward. I enjoyed the training especially the part about the 7P of business.”

As part of the initiative, over 95 businesswomen participated in proposal writing. The top 3 winners will win UGX 15 million, 10 million and 5 million respectively and the overall top 10 will take part in an all-expense paid study tour to Nairobi.

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MTN Foundation hands over blood storage equipment to Mbarara Regional Blood Bank

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By Our Reporter

MTN Uganda Foundation has officially handed over blood storage equipment to the Mbarara Regional blood bank under the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS). This is in a bid to address the issue of blood shortage arising from inadequate blood storage equipment.

The state-of-the-art blood refrigerator was handed over to the Parliamentary Woman Representative for Mbarara Municipality, Hon. Rosette Kajungu Mutambi in a ceremony held on Thursday at the Mbarara Regional Blood Bank in Mbarara district.

This follows the telecom company’s pledge in July when it availed UGX. 347 million to procure the equipment that comprises of an automated plasma extractor and 3 blood refrigerators. The automated plasma extractor that will be stationed at the Nakasero Blood Bank will be used for the processing of blood plasma to extract components of red and white blood cells, and platelets for the Nakasero blood bank.

The three refrigerators will be delivered to the regional blood banks based at the regional referral hospitals in Mbarara, Mbale and Arua.

While handing over the equipment, Mr. Bryan Mbasa, the Acting Senior Manager, MTN Foundation reiterated MTN Uganda’s commitment to supporting government’s push towards meeting the Global Sustainable Development Goal No. 3 which aims at ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all ages.

“We are proud of this partnership with the UBTS and the Ministry of Health in complementing their efforts to make available this scarce resource of blood,” Mr. Mbasa said.

Speaking at the same ceremony, Dr. Andrew Byamungu, the principal Medical Officer at the Mbarara Regional Blood Bank noted that the refrigerators will address the issue of blood shortage that has been arising from inadequate storage facilities.

“In the past, we have been losing a lot of blood because of lack of adequate storage but that will no longer be an issue. We thank MTN for this refrigerator because it will enable us store blood and avail it to the hospital whenever they need it,” Dr. Byamungu said.

According to Byamungu, the Mbarara Regional blood bank serves 62 hospitals in sixteen districts in the western region of the country. He explains that blood is mostly consumed by anaemic children aged below five years, mothers after delivery, accident victims and other patients.

Mr. Gilbert Sande, the Head of Logistics at the Uganda Blood Transfusion Services said that with the new refrigerator donated by the MTN Foundation, Mbarara regional blood bank will be able to store more than twice the amount of blood they have been storing.

“We had storage capacity of 300 units. But now with the new refrigerator that stores over 700 units, we shall be able to have over 1000 units of blood at any one time,” Mr. Sande

While receiving the equipment, Hon. Kajungu thanked the MTN Foundation for working together with the government for the good of the people of Uganda.

“Thank you MTN Foundation Uganda for this equipment. It will go a long way in addressing the blood shortage issues that arise from lack of adequate storage of donated blood to save lives,” Hon. Kajungu said. “The MTN Foundation has shown its passion for maternal health. By supporting safe blood storage, more mothers will be saved since more blood will be available, thanks to this initiative.”

Mbarara becomes the first regional blood bank to receive its equipment. Arua and Mbale are set to receive theirs in due course.

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