By Hashim Warugembe
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will benefit from business continuity and survival training tailored to their growth.
The interactive online training program is aimed at equipping SMEs with the knowledge, skills and tools necessary to enhance their survival, recovery and continuity in light of the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“SMEs in Uganda have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and as such recorded a larger decline in business activity compared to large firms.
As a financial institution that is invested in the growth of SMEs, we are proud to work with GIZ, an experienced and reputable partner, to bring forward pragmatic resilience-based solutions to the challenges facing these businesses, which are at the core of the country’s economy,” said Albert Byaruhanga, the Absa Bank Uganda’s Head of Business Banking.
The Uganda Business Climate Index 2020 conducted by the Economic Policy Research Center found that lockdown measures had reduced business activity by more than half.
According to the report 90% of businesses surveyed, reported experiencing an increase in operating expenses due to COVID-19 containment measures decreed by the government whereas 75% of the surveyed businesses had laid off employees following the risk presented by the pandemic.
In response to the situation, government last year announced that SMEs in the manufacturing and tourism sectors would receive a stimulus package of about shs1 trillion through the Uganda Development Bank (UDB) to bolster their operations during the lockdown, however, many businesses report that they have not yet received the funds.
However, the new training program, which is being delivered by ACLAIM Africa Limited, will entail modules in building financial management systems, financing businesses, managing costs effectively, business planning and management, acquiring and retaining customers, running business online, leading and management of people, and managing risk in business.
Additionally, selected companies will qualify for small grants from the Employment and Skills for Development in Africa (E4D) program and financing from Absa Bank Uganda at reduced interest rates.
”There is no question that the private sector is critical to the economic development of Uganda, and a large component of this growth will be driven by having a highly skilled and highly competent SME core.
To achieve this, we rely on public-private partnerships with institutions such as Absa Bank Uganda, who bring to the table the zeal and experience that is key to sustainable SME growth,” said James Macbeth Forbes, the Country Director for GIZ
The Absa Bank Uganda’s Head of Business Banking noted that the pandemic has highlighted the need for all the relevant stakeholders to go beyond the call of duty and provide additional value for stakeholders.