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Barclays Launches SMEs Academy, Promises To Grow Budding Entrepreneurs

Barclays Bank Uganda, a subsidiary of Absa Group has announced the launch of the Absa Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Academy with the promise of helping blossoming entrepreneurs grow sustainably.

The pioneering programme is based on providing capacity building, training and professional support to new and existing SMEs in Uganda.

Launching the Academy at Sheraton Hotel on Tuesday,  Mian Nazim Mahmood, the Acting Managing Director at Barclays Bank Uganda that  said that the academy aims at helping local SMEs grow their businesses by providing sound financial management and corporate governance systems and practices.

“In 2016, Uganda was ranked the most entrepreneurial country but 90% of SMEs could not cross the 3rd birthday. There are multiple challenges that come to the SMEs space and that’s why the academy comes in handy,” Mahmood said.

He said the bank has helped between 40,000 to 50,000 SMEs in the last 5 years and they will use the experience they have in lending multi international entities to better Ugandan SMEs.

During the same event, about 70 SMEs were granted a 3-month training programme tailored for proprietors and directors of local SMEs.

Emmanuel Katongole, CEO of Cipla Quality Chemical Industries Limited (CiplaQCIL) hailed Barclays’ initiative, urging the beneficiaries to position themselves well and remain focused on their mail goal.

The Deputy Governor at the Bank of Uganda, Dr. Louis Kasekende, who was the Chief Guest said that such initiatives are essential in the country’s economic growth.

Barclays Bank Uganda Interim Managing Director Nazim Mahmood and Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda Dr. Louis A. Kasekende, were among the main speakers during the Absa SME Academy launch at Kampala Sheraton Hotel.

“If we’re going to create jobs especially in the informal sector, we need a structural transformation. We need to get our people from subsistence [farming] to modern commercial farming,” Kasekende said. 

He added: “The bulk of our labour force is in informal workforce, 60% remain in agricultural sector and more than half remain in a very vulnerable family businesses. No formal work arrangement.”

The Board of Directors of Barclays Bank Uganda,  and the Chief Guest Speaker of the Absa SME Academy launch; Deputy Governor Bank of Uganda; Dr. Louis A. Kasekende pose for a picture with the Absa SME Academy pioneer class at Kampala Sheraton Hotel  that are going to receive a three months training program that has been tailored for local small business proprietors and directors.  

Data from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives indicate that about 160,000 SMEs exist in Uganda and contribute about 20% to the national GDP and employ 2.5 million people; 49% of whom are in the service sector, 33% in commerce and trade, 10% in manufacturing while 8% are in other sectors.

Barclays joins Orient Bank, Stanbic and dfcu among others to offer training to business owners on a regular basis.

We’ll bring to you unmatched analysis why banks are opening up business academies.

By Aloysious Kasoma

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