With over 8 million Ugandans living below the poverty line, and a huge unemployment rate of 70%, the economic hope for Uganda’s youthful population rests in its globally recognised status as the most enterprising country in the world. However, since most businesses are micro to small enterprises, started by unemployed youth with a limited chance of surviving their first year, they have been drastically affected by lockdowns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Micro and small agribusinesses in northern Uganda, a region that is still recovering from the devastating effects of conflict, have been more-so affected. Due to insufficient financial muscle to overcome inflation, closure of markets and movement restrictions, among others, entrepreneurs have been forced to lay off staff, reduce the business scale and in the most extreme of cases, close businesses that were their sole source of livelihood, and thus, increasing the threat of food insecurity.
With funding from Youth Business International and the Standard Chartered Foundation, through its Youth Agribusiness Recovery Project Cordaid has successfully verified the operations of 300 agribusinesses along several value chains, managed by youth in Nebbi and Lira districts.
As a result, 150 enterprises with the potential to boost food security and youth employment have been identified and awarded financial recovery grants to enable them to overcome challenges and create positive change in their communities.
Read these testimonials from the participants:
Agasum Adubango, 30, Nebbi district
“Before COVID-19, I had 5 acres of cassava gardens, which helped my trading business to employ several labourers in the community. Due to the high costs of production during the lockdown, I took up communal farming on a smaller plot. With this grant, I will buy two oxen and an ox plough and be able to cut down my production costs. That way I will have enough to rent 10 acres of land and enlarge my business.”
Harriet Ochokoro, 35, Padolo village, Nebbi district
“In 2019, I made 6 million profit from my 2-acre potato farm where I do seed multiplication and sell to farmers all the way to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When COVID-19 struck in 2020, everything shut down and I made a great loss by only selling 20 out of 80 bags. Now that the lockdown is lifted, I have already reconnected with my clients, and with the grant money, I plan to increase my acreage to meet the demand. I also want to start making potato chips and package them, to reach another target group locally.”
Rose Ayumu, 24, Lira district
“I sell produce like peas, beans and other vegetables in a suburb in Lira town. During the lockdown, I got many customers because people couldn’t move far. However, transporting my stock from the supplier to my stall became so expensive because there were only a few trucks available, and I started making losses. With this grant, I plan to rent my own piece of land nearby and start growing vegetables, which I can easily bring to the stall and directly sell. This will cut some of my costs and increase my profit.”
The Youth Agribusiness Recovery Project is a one-year intervention that aims to support 600 youth-led businesses in Lira and Nebbi districts that were adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, to recover and thrive.
As of January 1, 2021, Cordaid and ICCO joined forces and continue to implement global humanitarian and development programmes as one organisation, under the name of Cordaid.