Finance & Banking

Standard Chartered Bank launches Shs 970mln Youth in Agribusiness Project in Lira

LIRA-Standard Chartered Bank and Cordaid, in partnership with Youth Business International [YBI], have launched ‘Youth in Agribusiness Project’ funded by Standard Chartered Foundation to support young entrepreneurs to revive, strengthen, and build strong and resilient businesses.

The launch of the project worth Shs 970 million took place at Margarita Hotel – Lira and was presided over by Resident District Commissioner Ismail Kamada Quinto and attended by various dignitaries, special interest groups representatives and the district technical persons.

The project aims to address specific needs of 700 youth agribusiness entrepreneurs in the Northern Uganda districts of Lira, Nebbi and Zombo through specialised business development services, mentorship, access to finance, linkages to markets/ inputs and business advisory services among others. These skills will strategically grow and expand the various youth agribusinesses and contribute to the local economic growth.

Sanjay Rughani Standard Chartered CEO engages one of the project beneficiaries (Courtesy photo).

This project was initially launched in 2021 when Cordaid and Standard Chartered sprung up to mitigate the impact of Covid 19 with an investment of Shs 750mln.

With Uganda’s economy majorly being reliant on Agriculture, and employing 65 percent of the working population, this project offers an opportunity to create economic prospects for the most vulnerable persons, and support youth running Micro and Small businesses, especially in agriculture and agribusiness.  During COVID-19, Agriculture remained one of the single major providers of livelihood for young adults who were hit hardest by COVID19 through loss of work.

About 63 percent of Uganda’s population in farming are youth, the new agribusiness project therefore presents an opportunity for young people to change the narrative about agriculture as the driver of economic transformation.

The project therefore fosters a sustainable collaborative framework between youth and stakeholders at various levels to achieve business development and digital marketing skills training and linkages.

The CEO, Standard Chartered Bank Uganda Sanjay Rughani while addressing the participants said: “We are privileged to be launching this project in partnership with Cordaid Uganda, an NGO with whom we share several similarities like being a value-based organisations who prioritize partnerships and believe in doing good.”

Sanjay said the bank will continue to focus on education, entrepreneurship and employability and under three strategic STANDS which, “include, lifting participation – where we aim to impact 1 billion lives, Accelerate Zero to overcome environmental challenges and become carbon neutral through partnership especially with government and lastly we are Resetting globalization and plan to collaborate with 500,000 business to drive best practices.”

“We are therefore proud to roll out a project that is impactful, sustainable and is aligned to the Government’s Parish Development Model. I encourage all the youth beneficiaries to adopt a growth, be responsible, ambitious and be accountable.”

The LCV Chairman Lira District Richard Cox Okello Orik while launching the project stated: “I appeal to the youth to never undermine and ignore small beginnings and to be focused. The youth are the backbone of our country and are the most capable to uplift the agriculture sector. I therefore appeal to the Bank and Cordaid to continue.”

Okello said the choice of the enterprises is not important as long as the youth embark on the journey of agripreneurship

He spoke about the importance of agriculture inputs, appealling to farmers to ensure that they use good quality inputs to ensure high productivity and avoid cheap fake products as well as cutting corners that harms beneficiaries or consumers of their products which he equated to murder. He also appealed to youth to also change their mindset so whatever they get they put it to its proper use and not squander it else they will not benefit from this project.

He cautioned the project funder and implementors to ensure there is sustainability and Project impact to ensure it will change the livelihood of the people is the most important in project roll out.”

On her part,  the Cordaid Cluster Director for Eastern and Southern Africa and Country Director Uganda, Heleen van der Beek said: “We are deeply grateful to the Uganda government at national and district levels for their guidance in identifying the youth entrepreneurs. We continue to rely on your support in following up the businesses through your competent agriculture departments and various structures available.”

“Cordaid Uganda is also very thankful to the Standard Chartered Bank and the Futuremakers Foundation whose funding support has made this milestone Grant possible, for the second phase of the Youth in Agribusiness.”

Eunice Achen of Golden Country Farm who currently employs four other youth and supplies most of the top hotels in Lira shared the importance of humble beginnings in her testimony, saying;

“Through this project I have mastered the art of poultry and advise the youth not to hide their business challenges. I encourage you to seek advice and guidance from mentors because if I had personally hidden my business problems, I wouldn’t have learnt the techniques that I know today which have propelled my business forward.”

She also advised fellow entrepreneurs to share their knowledge, remain connected and abreast of the new technologies and the advancements in their field. “It’s through the exposure and connections I received as a result of the project profiling and uplifting me that has opened doors for me. The project training, mentorship, valuation and monitoring done has been key in my business progress.”

While delivering his testimony Eric Bwonyo, a visually impaired youth in agribusiness who does piggery and poultry said: “I embarked on agribusiness after receiving developmental ideas and a grant from Standard Chartered and Cordaid. My personal experience is that businesses start with each of us individually, that is, how we manage our bodies, minds, soul and before it extends to the community.”

He cautioned fellow youth against being corrupted as individuals as this eventually permeates society.

Tour of agribusiness projects of some of the beneficiaries (Courtesy photo).

Chairman LCV Nebbi District, Emmanuel Urombi also appreciated the project stating: “We are very grateful that our partners have extended this project to Nebbi District. Since its launch, this project has achieved several milestones and corrected some of the poor farming practices through skilling the youth. I therefore encourage the young people to be more open to listening, observing, imitating and learning from more experienced and knowledgeable from the project implementers and even the elders in society.”

He also cautioned the youth against laziness and indulging in excessive spending on material things before they make it saying; “Earn first before eating the harvest, don’t eat your capital… delay enjoyment. Avoid the Arrivism syndrome, challenge yourselves and don’t swindle your youth. Be diligent and continue working hard.”

While handing over the dummy cheque, Kamada Ismail Quinto stated: “On behalf of the Government of Uganda, I take this opportunity to thank Standard Chartered Bank and Cordaid Uganda for this significant investment which aligns to the Government’s Parish Development Model and aims to provide employability as well as improve the standards of the disadvantaged 39% populace who live hand to mouth. During the pandemic, so many people were laid off work and had no means of survival, so the Bank and partners came through to bridge the gap to enhance agriculture production, so we don’t run food security risks as we have witnessed recently with deaths in some parts of the country.”

He added: “The project addresses pillar one of the Parish Development Model which focuses on; production, marketing, storage, processing among others. Agriculture was the only sector which wasn’t disrupted by the pandemic as the need for food remained vital and untampered with.”

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