BY BANKERS REPORTER
Standard Chartered Bank through the Standard Chartered Foundation donated sh750m to support 600 Youth in Agribusiness as part of the “Futuremakers By Standard Chartered programme.”
The Programme that will be implemented by its NGO partners; ICCO Cooperation and Youth Business International through their ‘High Flyer program’ was unveiled during a press launch that was held at Kampala Serena Hotel in the presence of Hon. Vincent Ssempijja, Minister of Agriculture, animal industry and Fisheries.
The donation is earmarked to support micro, small and medium agri-businesses in Northern Uganda districts of Lira and Nebbi that have been negatively impacted by the economic downturn caused by the pandemic and further escalated by the slow recovery process that has had far reaching effects for vulnerable groups like; women, refugees and persons with disabilities.
The project aims to support the re-establishment of 600 young entrepreneurs in Nebbi and Lira districts whose micro and small businesses were hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring that a diverse range of young entrepreneurs continue to contribute towards a richer, more varied and more resilient economy for everyone.
To support them, we will provide a holistic package of support that will include; entrepreneurship, business development and digital marketing skills training, linkages to finance and new markets, mentorship and recovery cash grants to facilitate the efficiency and sustainability of their businesses. 100 of the most vulnerable youths will receive cash grants worth sh2m each to revive their businesses.
Our donation today through the Standard Chartered foundation is a continuation of our COVID-19 emergency relief measures that we embarked on last year that culminated into the donation of sh1.6b through over 8 NGOs to support various communities navigate and stay afloat during the pandemic.
These funds will be used to reach some of the most vulnerable people in Lira and Nebbi as in any crisis, the young and the most vulnerable suffer disproportionately.
It is therefore with great pleasure that I announce our funding of sh750m towards the Youth in agriculture project in Lira and Nebbi District in Northern Uganda in partnership with ICCO and Youth in Business International.
We have stepped up to go beyond banking. We have a track record of a long history of supporting and empowering the communities in Uganda for the 109 years we have been in existence in Uganda. This attests to our brand promise “Here for good” and our values that indeed we are #BetterTogether.
Truly, there has never been a better time for different players to come together not only to jointly fight against the Covid 19 pandemic but to also seed sustainable projects that will secure the future of the youth and open social and economic opportunities including job creation.”
Said Albert Saltson, the Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bank Uganda
Petra Van Haren Country Manager – ICCO Uganda while delivering her remarks during the launch at Serena Hotel commented: “ICCO is a Dutch international organization with a vision of empowering people that build sustainable livelihoods within a society that upholds their rights.
“Through interventions that focus on blending finance, climate resilient food systems, new technologies and youth entrepreneurship, we seek to strengthen food and nutrition security and economic empowerment for smallholder farmers and SMEs,” he added.
She noted that in partnership with YBI, “our High Flyers program has to date been able to facilitate the transition of over 500 youth start-ups in Northern Uganda from micro enterprises to small businesses through targeted mentorship and training. We are excited about the partnership with the Standard Chartered Foundation as it will boost our program capacity to further strengthen the resilience of young entrepreneurs with critical adjustment skills that can contribute to economic recovery in Northern Uganda after the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Priority will be given to traditionally disadvantaged business owners who have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 economic crisis, including rural, micro and female entrepreneurs, business owners with disabilities and visual impairments and those excluded from the formal sector.” She concluded
Hon. Vincent Ssempijja, Minister of Agriculture, animal industry and Fisheries on his part said;
“I commend the efforts of Standard Chartered Bank, ICCO Uganda and YBI for the timely support towards the youth who are grappling with the devastating impact of the pandemic and for supplementing the Government of Uganda efforts by investing the sh750m in this youth programme that will tackle inequality and promote greater economic inclusion for young entrepreneurs in Nebbi and Lira. It is commendable that you are supporting and empowering disadvantaged youth in agri-business so they can be empowered as change agents, employers and skilled entrepreneurs who will transfer the skills learnt.
Kennedy Okirwoth from Erussi sub county, Nebbi district one of the beneficiaries of the project while sharing his testimony said: ““The market for bananas drastically dropped during COVID-19 lockdown. Instead of selling my bananas at a give-away price, I decided to use them as payments to community members who were available to provide labor on my farm. In this way, my business was beneficial in our village.”