Atleast 700 youth to benefit from Shs 970 million Agribusiness Project aimed at supporting young entrepreneurs revive, strengthen, and build strong and resilient businesses in Northern Uganda.
A flagship of Youth Business International (YBI), Cordaid and Standard Chartered Foundation, the project aims to address specific needs of 700 youth agribusiness entrepreneurs in Lira, Nebbi and Zombo through specialized 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. 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 750 million.
With Uganda’s economy majorly being reliant on Agriculture, and employing 65% 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. As we witnessed 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% of Uganda’s population in farming are youths, 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 organizations who prioritize partnerships and believe in doing good.
The LC IV Chairman Lira District Mr. 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. The choice of the enterprises is not important as long as they embark on the journey of agripreneurship.
He appealed 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 implementers 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.”
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.
“I advise each of my 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.”
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, souls and souls before it extends to the community. I therefore caution my fellow youth against being corrupted as individuals as this eventually permeates society. I want to appreciate the knowledge, financial support and exposure the Bank and Cordaid have extended to me because before their intervention I used to hold a very old, broken phone which I tied with a rubber band but today I hold a decent phone with capabilities that support me as a visually impaired person, for instance, previously I used to look for people to help me read my sms messages for me, which violated my privacy but now that I am earning some money, I can afford a good phone and listen to my own messages, get alerted and able to communicate which has improved how I do my business. I also own a bicycle and managed to marry a wife who takes care of me so I am now so empowered.”
Chairman LC V Nebbi District, Mr. 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 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 and delay enjoyment. Avoid the Arrivism syndrome, challenge yourselves and don’t swindle your youth. Be diligent and continue working hard.”
The Resident District Commissioner Mr. Kamada Ismail Quinto said;“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.”
“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. We are very pleased therefore with the support of the government and we commit to promote greater collaboration and partnership to drive stronger synergies by inspecting this project to ensure its success. To the youth, I encourage you to take small realistic steps to realize your dreams through this opportunity, however, ensure you meet today’s needs without harming future prospects and depleting resources. With those remarks it my now my honor to officially launch this project and thank Standard Chartered Bank, Cordaid Uganda and all entrepreneurs for making this launch possible,” he said.