“We appreciate the opportunity given for the just concluded event. We shall use the networks we established to steer our vision. Thanks to UGEFA.”
This is how Peter Lukwiya, from UGEFA-supported enterprise Al-Maghtas Investment Ltd, described their participation at the 2nd Uganda – EU Business Forum held on the 26th & 27th of October 2022 in Kampala, Uganda. The Uganda Green Enterprise Finance Accelerator (UGEFA) Programme was privileged to be part of it, along with over 20 enterprises invited to exhibit and pitch.
The hybrid forum themed “Mobilizing quality investments and boosting trade between Uganda and the European Union” was centered on exploring a renewed commitment by both public and private sector stakeholders to building stronger investment and trade ties between Uganda and the European Union as the economies emerge from unparalleled global health and economic challenges.
The Uganda EU Business Forum was officially opened by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda, Yoweri K. Museveni, and attended by high-level and influential actors, including Ugandan and European Union policymakers, private sector representatives, private and public business associations, development partners, financial institutions, donors, academia, and civil society.
UGEFA’s participation in the event aimed to showcase innovative, investment-ready green enterprises and stimulate discussions on how finance can be leveraged to enable green investments at scale.
During the forum, 21 enterprises had the opportunity to exhibit their products and services to the high-level audience, network, and exchange experiences. 16 UGEFA graduates were additionally selected to pitch their unique business models to a wide audience of private sector and government representatives.
“The showcasing exposed us to immense local and international market opportunities for our products. To date, we have already signed a contract with one buyer. A visit by the Vice president to our stall gave us great visibility and an opportunity to market our brand. Thanks to UGEFA for believing in us.”
Paul Nyende, AgriNet Uganda Ltd
“The networking opportunity for us was incredible and we continue to engage with potential partners as we work towards expanding our food security systems and bioenergy capabilities to contribute towards clean energy for the industries.”
Alfred Mwnagi, Shamba Bora Limited
UGEFA had the opportunity to host a session “Scaling green finance for Uganda’s transition to a green and inclusive economy”, which examined the status of green finance in Uganda and discussed actions to catalyse the mobilisation of financing for a green and inclusive Ugandan economy. This session was chaired by Christine Meyer (Senior Manager and Co-lead Green Entrepreneurship), adelphi and featured a high-level panel with esteemed speakers including Audrey Maignan, Regional Head, PROPARCO; Dr. Sam Mugume, Assistant Commissioner, Ministry of Finance; Elizabeth Mwerinde Kasedde, Executive Director at Equity Bank Uganda; Pius Wamala, Senior Green Finance Officer, Uganda Development Bank; and Sylvia Natukunda, CEO and Founder of Farm Reap. The panel discussed opportunities and challenges to manage and deploy green finance, and highlighted the need for a combination of financial and non-financial instruments.
The discussion was framed by a keynote speech of Aaron Werikhe, Senior Planner Environment and Natural Resources at the National Planning Authority, who presented the draft Uganda Green Growth Financing Strategy, which provides a framework and roadmap to mobilise, manage and deploy an estimated 11 billion USD needed to reach the amibitious targets outlined in Uganda’s Green Growth Development Strategy.To get global green finance to local projects and investments, green enterprises need support to develop bankable business models highlighted Pius Wamala from UDB. Financial institutions are currently transitioning to become “green bankers”, says Elizabeth Kasedde, Executive Director at Equity Bank Uganda.
While SMEs, the backbone of Uganda's economy, are well positioned to deliver social, economic and environmental impacts, they face challenges in developing consistent and tailored growth strategies and accessing finance. Against this background, UGEFA hosted a workshop “Level Up: Exploring strategies for business growth” for SMEs attending the event, facilitating peer-exchange around sector-specific growth strategies to expand customer bases, launching new products and scaling to new (international) markets.
UGEFA was officially launched during the 1st edition of the Uganda-EU Business Forum held in March 2020. Through tailored business development, the program has so far supported over 170 green SMEs in sectors of green manufacturing, clean energy, urban waste management, sustainable tourism, and sustainable mobility. The program works alongside commercial banks in Uganda to design a loan facility that meets the needs of green SMEs and offers capacity building to boost investor readiness and scale their positive environmental impacts and social contributions.
Green SMEs are crucial for Uganda's transition to an inclusive green economy. However, most green businesses are not able to receive the financing necessary for scaling. Additionally, commercial banks need to face the risks associated with financing SMEs. More than ever, it is vital for round table conversations and initiatives focused on developing the business and financial skills required by green SMEs to access financing and achieve a sustainable and inclusive ecosystem.
UGEFA is a four-year project, funded by the European Delegation to Uganda and implemented by adelphi research gGmbH, in collaboration with Finding XY and SEED.