For start-ups and small businesses that don’t have any assets, getting a loan can be extremely difficult. Without access to any form of security, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) attract a high-risk premium from lenders. This means MSMEs will either be denied a loan or get the cash at a high interest rate.
With financial inclusion still low in Uganda, MSMEs have generally been locked out of regulated financial institutions, such as banks and deposit-taking microfinance institutions. However, in true entrepreneurial fashion, alternative financial products that are innovative and hassle-free have mushroomed to fill this gap.
However, many Ugandans don’t know of the existing funding opportunities and how to access them. Here are eight of the most popular financing opportunities you can take advantage of.
Youth Livelihood Funds
The Shs256bn Youth Livelihood Fund is managed by Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development under the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP).
Launched in 2013 by President Yoweri Museveni, YLP is aimed at addressing unemployment challenge in Uganda.
Funds are provided through Youth Interest Groups (YIGs) of 10-15 people in form of revolving funds (soft loans with friendly terms).
What is important to know about this programme is that there’s no interest for repayments made in the first 12 months and no physical assets or collateral is required.
However, only 5% per annum surcharge is repaid after the initial 12 months. The fund size depends on request made by the group ranging from Shs1m to Shs25m.
Skills Development Fund
This is being managed by Private Sector Foundation-Uganda (PSFU). The private sector body received funds worth US$300,000 from the World Bank through the Government of Uganda to undertake a project named Skills Development Fund (SDF).
This project mainly looks at providing practical skills to companies and Ugandans at large in sectors like agriculture, manufacturing, construction and auto mechanics. Large companies and well organised groups across the country stand to benefit from this fund.
Venture capital is financing that investors provide to start-up companies and small businesses that are believed to have long-term growth potential.
For start-ups without access to capital markets, venture capital is an essential source of money. Risk is typically high for investors, but the downside for the start-up is that these venture capitalists usually get a say in company decisions.
Venture capital generally comes from well-off investors, investment banks and any other financial institutions that pool similar partnerships or investments.
Venture capital does not always take a monetary form; it can be provided in the form of technical or managerial expertise.
There are a few venture capital firms in Uganda and many international ones that often active in the Ugandan market.
Crowdfunding is the practice of funding a venture or project by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people.
Crowdfunding is a form of crowdsourcing and consequently an alternative finance.
In 2015, it was estimated that worldwide over US$34 billion was raised this way.
The commonest platform used by Ugandans is indiegogo, which has raised capital for projects like MatatArt, a Kampala based social enterprise promoting access to Art for children and as a result to boost cultural development and social participation in the undeserved. It raised Shs56m
Another is Imperial blue that educates Ugandan film makers on the set of new international film features. It has raised Shs69m.
Others include; Musana Carts, the solar street vending revolution; SEGA film and Cricket without Boarders among others. Other platforms include; crowdrise, gofundme, givefoward, Kids etc.
Agriculture Credit Facility
The Agriculture Credit Facility (ACF) was set up by the Government of Uganda (GoU) in partnership with Commercial Banks, Uganda Development Bank Ltd (UDBL), Micro Deposit Taking Institutions (MDIs) and Credit Institutions all referred to as Participating Financial institutions (PFIs).
The facility is intended to provide medium and long term loans to projects engaged in agriculture and agro-processing on more favourable terms than are usually available from the PFIs.
The scheme is administered by the Bank of Uganda (BoU), with provision for a maximum grace period of 3 years and the interest rate to the final borrower being a maximum of 10% per annum.
The maximum loan amount to a single borrower is up to Shs.2.1billion. However, this amount can be increased up to Shs.5billion on a case by case basis (for eligible projects that add significant value to the Agriculture sector and the economy as a whole).
There is no designated minimum loan amount to the final beneficiary (farmer/ agro-processor), but BoU can only reimburse a minimum of Shs10million to the PFIs.
The maximum loan period should not exceed 8 years and the minimum should be 6 months.
In 2015, the Government of Uganda introduced the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) aimed improving women’s access to financial services, equipping them with skills for enterprise growth, value addition and marketing of their products and services.
Women shall be availed interest-free credit to initiate or strengthen their enterprises.
Like Youth Livelihood Programme, the Shs53bn UWEP is implemented under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and seeks to accelerate the entrepreneurial acumen of Ugandan women while empowering them for economic development.
In 2016, President Yoweri Museveni directed for a fund to be created for ICT innovation. The Shs15bn annual fund aims to facilitate the development of ICT innovations in Uganda. For innovators especially in ICT, this fund is for you.
A grant is a quantity of money given by a government, organization, person or family for a specific purpose. Unlike a loan, you do not have to pay back the grant money – in some cases, study grants have to be paid back if the person abandons the course.
A grant may come in the form of money for a student to study, for a team to carry out research, money to improve the insulation in your house, expand a community project, or funds to set up a business.
Using internet or keeping glued to Business Focus, you will come across many grants. For example, a number of upcoming entrepreneurs across Africa have benefited from The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF).