European Investment Bank allocates €200 million to small businesses in Uganda

Man Jose Kayima

The European Investment Bank(EIB) together with several European Union members have announced an allocation of €200 million to support small business owners, young female entrepreneurs, agribusinesses as well as vital digital infrastructure projects in Uganda.

The funding was announced during the second day of the third Uganda-European Union(EU) at Speke Resort hotel in Munyonyo on Wednesday.

The European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said,“These concrete initiatives will make a difference to aspiring entrepreneurs, Ugandan businesses and create jobs in multiple sectors. This is a perfect example of how Global Gateway can make a tangible difference for citizens and businesses and unlock the full potential of a partner country by working together.”

The third edition of the Uganda-European Union business forum is running under the theme, “Boosting Trade and Investment. What can Uganda gain from the Global Gateway?”

The Global Gateway strategy provides a holistic support to the Ugandan economy and society across the board by bringing the private and public sector together to invest in the four essential pillars of the economy of the future.

The EU Global Gateway strategy provides the framework for the EU’s external action as it is the EU’s positive offer to partner countries aiming to narrow the global investment gap with value-driven investments from public and private sectors, support global economic recovery and accompany the twin green and digital transitions outside the EU.

Across the world, Global Gateway aims to mobilise up to €300 billion in investments between 2021 and 2027 with a mix of grants, concessional loans and guarantees to de-risk private sector investments.

Female entrepreneurs

The “Investing in Young Women-Led Entrepreneurs Business in Africa” initiative launched in Uganda secured €40 million from 11 member states, EIB, EBRD, and AEDFI, supporting young entrepreneurs, fostering job creation, and promoting business growth in 8 Sub-Saharan countries.

Additionally, a €50 million investment from the EU and Belgium targets enhancing employability, particularly for vulnerable youth and women in Uganda. It aims to improve access to green and decent employment opportunities.

Housing and human rights

The EIB and Housing Finance Bank of Uganda announced a partnership with a €25 million EIB loan focusing on supporting private sector entities, especially SMEs. With a gender focus, at least half of the funds will benefit businesses owned or run by women or those serving women.

The “Advancing Respect for Business and Human Rights (ARBHR) in Uganda” project with Belgium, with a EUR 5 million budget, aims to reduce human rights abuses in Ugandan businesses, particularly those affecting women, through awareness-raising, civil society advocacy, and institutional capacity enhancement.

Investments in digital infrastructure

The European Investment Bank supports the construction of more than 500 new telecom towers in rural Uganda with a €25 million loan. TOWERCO will enhance mobile network coverage with the objective of ensuring last mile connectivity up to the most underserved regions, and enable access to 4G and 5G data services, as well as mobile money solutions. The goal is to promote digital empowerment and economic advancement in Uganda with sustainable infrastructure development, including the use of renewable energy sources like solar power.

Investments in sustainable agriculture

The START Facility, funded with €11.5 million, supports Ugandan agribusinesses through concessional loans, technical assistance grants, and credit guarantees. The €50 million EIB loan to Centenary Rural Development Bank (CERUDEB) benefits microentrepreneurs, especially women, aiming for nearly 2 million loans over seven years.

The €12 million EU and Denmark investment in the Agricultural Business Initiative (ABI) aids 200,000 Ugandan farmers in improving climate resilience and productivity via matching grants and Business Development Services (BDS).

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