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Mbarara City to Host a National Investment Symposium to Unlock Business Opportunities in the Ankole Sub-Region

Joshua Nahamya

Mbarara.

Mbarara City is set to host the 3rd national investment symposium to identify business opportunities and share entrepreneur linkages that can build a sustainable entrepreneur echo system in financial inclusion.

The Uganda Investment Symposium concept was launched in 2019 with an inaugural symposium held in the West Nile region and a subsequent one held in the Rwenzori sub-region. The aim is to bring together investors from different regions to showcase, discuss, and explore the investment environment in Uganda, as well as emerging markets, opportunities, and challenges that investors face.

At the press conference on Saturday, Dr Robert Mwesigwa, area MP for Mbarara City North, told journalists that the symposium is being organized by Uganda Development Bank Limited (UDBL) in partnership with Operation Wealth Creation (OWC), among other partners.

“During the symposium, institutions like UDBL will interact with SMEs to see the challenges and get solutions apart from staying only in Kampala, which was the norm before.”

The symposium is slated for February 22nd to 23rd, 2022 at Kakyeka stadium in Mbarara and will be run under the theme “The Contribution of Financial Innovation to the Resilience of the Economy for Sustained Growth.”

“We are excited to announce the upcoming fourth investment symposium, which will identify business opportunities in the Ankole region, host business-to-business (B2B) engagements, and convene leading local and national leaders on the question of financing for recovery and growth.” Says Mwesigwa

The function is expected to host about 1000 entrepreneurs with over 50 exhibitors showcasing different products in the Ankole sub-region.

Dr Mwesigwa says the two-day symposium is meant to drum up support to recover entrepreneur businesses that were severely injured during Covid-19 lockdown.

“The COVID pandemic disrupted global and local demand as well as supply chains. But when you are at a symposium, people will bring different materials and products to showcase, and in the due process of showcasing, it’s when you realize that someone has a better product than you that you think of improving the quality of your products. He explained

However, Hon. Mwesigwa challenged the business community to register their businesses to remit the taxes and access government facilities like affordable financing.

“Most of our people are not on the ladder of registration, like when you go to URSB, you will find only 800,000 registered businesses in a country of 43 million people, which is a disadvantage, especially to the tax base in terms of URA resources,” Mwesigwa emphasized.

You will not easily share the resources of institutions like UDB because for you to access affordable loans or commercial loans, you need to be registered”. He added

Patricia Ojangole, UDBL’s Managing Director, pointed out that financing remains a key component for both the government and the private sector to achieve their aspirations on a sustainable path to a vibrant economy.

“As the country focuses its energies on full recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, UDB joins the rest of the government and the people of Uganda in redoubling its efforts to reinforce the economy at local levels in the form of financing for continued import substitution, value-added production for export and technology transfer to aid home-grown innovation and entrepreneurship, “said Ojangole.

She added that this year’s symposium is part of an on-going series in conjunction with Operation Wealth Creation and other partners to bring together a cohort of coordinated thinking that can learn about the business opportunities of the times.

UDB, together with Operation Wealth Creation, the local government and other partners, is bringing the benefits of affordable finance to one of the fastest growing regions in the country to increase household incomes and draw more people into the money economy, says Ojangole.

Clare Kabakyenga, the manager of area women’s cooperative enterprise (ACE) in Isingiro district, confirmed that their cooperative is among the private sectors that have received a total of 600 million from UDBL financing during the COVID-19 lockdown.

“During the first lockdown, we were given 300 million as an agricultural loan at 12% with a grace period of 7 months. After paying immediately, we requested more, and within two weeks, we were given the second installment, which is due in February, when we are graduating to asset financing, “says Kabakyenga.

She appealed to the business community in the Ankole-sub region to attend the forthcoming investment symposium slated for February 21, 2021.

“I encourage all the business people to come and attend the symposium, get exposed to different stakeholders and opportunities, especially the youth and women, get exposed to other innovative ideas.” Kabakyenga said

Before accessing credit financing from UDBL, the women’s cooperative composed of 146 groups dealing in maize and beans in Isingiro district, had a turnover of 136 million, and currently they have over 1.5 billion.

Uganda Development Bank Limited (UDBL) is the country’s national Development Finance Institution (DFI) with a mandate to accelerate socio-economic development in Uganda through sustainable financial interventions.

Consistent with this mandate, the bank supports projects within the private sector that demonstrate the potential to deliver high socio-economic value, in terms of job creation, improved production output, tax contribution, and foreign exchange generation, among other outcomes.

And in line with Uganda’s development priorities, the bank’s financing interventions are mainly in primary agriculture, agro-processing, and manufacturing, which account for about 80% of its investment portfolio.

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