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Cooperatives trained on business recovery in post Covid-19 pandemic

KAMPALA – Following the Covid-19 national lock down, many business ventures stagnated while several others collapsed as many of the clientele lost their purchasing power after losing their jobs and other sources of income.

Throughout the two years of total disruptions, it has not been business as usual, for many families and business ventures.

It is against this background that Goldstone Enterprise Consulting and Training, a Business Development and Management Consulting firm crossed the line to initiate avenues to help businesses build back after the lock down.

In partnership with The Uhuru Institute for Social Development (TUI), Goldstone has embarked on a Small and Growing Business Accelerator program that will see small and medium business ventures skilled in multiple business-related disciplines like financial management, strategy development, operational and business sustainability, to support them through the storms occasioned on them due to Covid-19.

The accelerator program slated to run for at least three months is driven on a hybrid methodology of both physical and virtual sessions being anchored on seven different thematic areas including; access to markets, business development and modeling, social mission and impact.

Other areas of coverage are business leadership and governance, implementation, financial planning and funding.

The lead trainer at Goldstone Consulting, Mr. Daniel Bukenya says, after the Covid-19 disruptions, businesses required a new skill set and perspective to enable them survive the times that are stormy.

“Business ventures and individuals need to renew their skill set and knowledge in doing business after the lock down. Someone needs to keep the business running and the solution is upskilling and re-skilling in what they are doing,” he says.

The Accelerators program is targeting at least 13 different businesses including; six cooperatives in various sectors, picked from different parts of the country including the districts of Arua, Nebbi, Masaka, Wakiso, Rukungiri, Kabale, Kiryandongo, and Mbale in the first cohort.

The selection of the trainee businesses was based on several criteria including the business performance in the last five years, profitability, sustainability, governance and share capital growth.

Brian Jjemba, a business coach and trainer remarked that businesses need to be helped to create and access new markets for survival, and targeting the captive markets for a deeper share of client wallets as the economy recovers. 

“We need to connect businesses especially cooperatives to new markets, especially with the absence of an agricultural bank.”

He adds that businesses also need to be guided on where to go for right investments, credit and other services.

“Why would a business involved in renewable energy go to a commercial bank for credit yet there are several energy financing ventures around?” he wondered.

Jjemba says, knowledge sharing and networking is the key that would unlock several business opportunities in this period where dependence is critical.

The Uhuru Institute for Social Development, the lead partner in the project conducted a research study on cooperative businesses around the country in 2019, which revealed that over 1,029 cooperatives have challenges with leadership and governance alongside financial management.

Denis Odeba, the Learning and Development Officer at Uhuru Institute says, such figures call for appropriate interventions in terms of skilling and empowering the cooperatives.

“We ought to have such efforts to close up the gaps and make these businesses competitive with sound and sustainable strategies for survival.”

The businesses that are being mentored and coached in this first cohort included; Zia Angelina (WASH) Mujaasi Investments (Agri-business), Wana Energy (Clean Energy), Erusi Village SACCO (Agribusiness), Lyamujungu (Financial Cooperative), Kigya United Farmers (Agribusiness), Standard ICT (an innovations hub), Bloom Engineering (Engineering Services) alongside KK foods, Kigezi Dairy Cooperative, Munaku Kaama SACCO, Nyakibale Development SACCO.

The participants are involved in renewable energy, health, financial services, education, and agribusiness.

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