Government of Uganda announces Small Business Recovery Fund to provide up to UGX 10 million in financing to eligible small businesses

Through the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, the Government of Uganda is set to support small businesses with funding through the Small Business Recovery Fund (SBRF). The announcement came on 16 November 2021 and is part of the government’s measures to help entrepreneurs recover from the financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ministry will disburse the SBRF through Participating Financial Institutions (PFI) such as commercial banks, microfinance deposit-taking institutions, and credit institutions, and loan capital of up to UGX 100 million will be available to eligible small businesses.

Small businesses interested in the SBRF should fulfil the following to be eligible to apply:

  • Demonstrate that they were affected by the pandemic but have strong potential for recovery
  • Have between 5 and 49 employees
  • Have an annual business turnover of at least UGX 10 million
  • Businesses receiving financing under the Agricultural Credit Facility (ACF) are not eligible for the SBRF

The terms and conditions of SBRF are set up to help ensure business owners are accessing the capital at affordable rates – PFIs are limited to charging interest at a rate of not more than 10% per annum on a reducing basis and one-time facility fees shall not exceed 0.5 of the total loan. The borrowing business shall bear all other costs incurred in acquiring the loan amount, such as the cost of legal documentation, insurance fees, and registration costs, as applicable. Borrowing businesses will be given a minimum of 6 months and a maximum of 4 years to repay the loan, including a one-year grace period depending on the nature of the project and to be decided upon by the borrower and PFI. Collateral requirements will be determined by the PFI.

For more information about the SBRF, contact the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development at finance@finance.o.ug or the Bank of Uganda at info@bou.or.ug.


Compassionate Leadership for Entrepreneurs Series: Leading with Heart

ConsumerCentriX, in partnership with Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited (Stanbic Bank), kicked off the first webinar in its Compassionate Leadership for Entrepreneurs Series on November 4th, 2021, under the theme “Leading with Heart: Adapting to a New Normal in a Tough Business Environment.” The webinar explored how the bank and other key businesses in the market adapted to the current business climate given the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of using compassionate leadership as a business strategy.

The webinar was moderated by Maurice Mugisha, a Ugandan journalist and Managing Director of Uganda Broadcasting Corporation, and the panel included Emma Mugisha, Executive Director and Head of Business Banking at Stanbic Bank, Dr. Peter Kimbowa, Chairman of the Board of Directors at the National Social Security Fund (NSSF), Thadeus Musoke Nagenda, Ag. Chairman of Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA), and Isaac Nsereko, Managing Director of RI Distributors Ltd.

Leading with compassion in a crisis

The COVID-19 pandemic in Uganda has led to waves of lockdowns and business closures, making it impossible for businesses to continue day-to-day operations as usual. The disruptions have heavily affected decision-making, employee management, and the bottom line for businesses. All of the panelists agreed that leading with compassion during these extraordinary times has been essential. For them, this has meant listening to their employees and the concerns of their customer base, challenging the assumptions behind their convictions, and being ready to adapt to a constantly changing environment.

In the case of Stanbic Bank, leaders needed to adapt quickly to the crisis. When public transportation shut down, they had to find ways to transport their staff to branches. The bank had to adjust working hours to better fit customer and employee needs and implement changes so staff could work from home comfortably.  For branch staff who may have been exposed to the virus, the bank created isolation centers to help employees protect their family members from potential exposure.  As the pandemic dragged on, Emma Mugisha explained that Stanbic Bank has started to see an increase in customers defaulting on their loan payments. The bank has “put in place repayment extensions to relieve the customers who were affected by the pandemic,” said Mrs. Mugisha. Compassionate leadership teaches leaders to be empathetic and understand the challenges faced by their community. Loan repayment extensions not only benefit the bank’s customers, but also help the bank avoid mass default.

Dr. Kimbowa highlighted that at NSSF, the largest social security fund in Uganda, it was key to have a store of reserves, respond quickly to customer needs, and preserve the company’s workforce. NSSF launched a leadership ‘Think Box’ in order to tackle the biggest challenges, particularly how to avoid layoffs and keep employees fulfilled while working from home. Dr. Kimbowa is proud of the results of these efforts – NSFF largely retained its staff and reminds others that “firing people during hard times is in itself an admission of failed imagination [for leadership].”

RI Distributors, one of the largest logistics trading companies in Uganda, has had to make significant changes to its supply chains as a result of the pandemic. Mr. Nsereko explained that a key priority for the business was keeping its drivers healthy, happy, and employed. First, RI Distributors divested long-term projects and focused on ramping up COVID-19 testing stations for their drivers. The business also hired more drivers so to ensure adherence to safer social distancing policies through a more flexible driver rotation schedule. Mr. Nsereko said; “I think it’s compassionate leadership that knows the business will [have the opportunity to focus on making] money in the future and chooses to look after their people now, in a sustainable way, in order to stay in business.”

KACITA is the largest trader block in Kampala, and during the lockdowns most of the arcades, shopping malls, its businesses operate out of were closed. “When COVID hit, many of the members of the business community started selling their goods out of the back of their cars,” said Mr. Nagenda. KACITA has provided supplies, food, and funding for business owners, but more importantly, asked for a moratorium on rent for business owners. They also approached the government and advocated for reopening of arcades so that its business owners could continue doing business and making a living. KACITA focused on alleviating the monetary stresses that its small business owners faced. KACITA was successful in negotiations with some landlords, who eventually allowed traders to defer rent payments.

Lessons learned

To close out the webinar, panelists were asked to share lessons learned through their use of compassionate leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic. A few key themes emerged from the discussion:

  • Work together. As business leaders, it’s important to share best practices and ask others to join in utilizing compassionate leadership. If more business leaders share their knowledge on how to listen to employees and customers, challenge assumptions, and adapt quickly in a changing environment like adjusting work hours to better fit customer needs or creating a “Think Box” for leaders to tackle the biggest challenges, then institutions will improve, and the economy will be strengthened. It’s essential to work together to solve challenges and find sustainable solutions. In the case of KACITA, Mr. Nagenda said that “most of the [arcade] landlords are also traders and part of KACITA. We realized as the business community that we can work together to find solutions.”
  • Adapting to change is imperative. Leaders should approach challenges as opportunities to shift their ways of working. The pandemic forced many sectors to embrace change through digitization, whether that included investing in ways for their staff to work from home or making loans available to more customers through mobile banking. Mrs. Mugisha mentioned that “it should be normal to have your video on and hold your baby,” stressing the importance of embracing flexible work structures for parents. Focusing on the mission of the business instead of the structure allows businesses to adapt to a new normal.
  • Trust is essential. The most valuable component of an institution is its people. A leader must build and maintain trust with employees in order to make compassionate leadership sustainable. When suppliers cut off credit lines, RI Distributors focused on preserving the business through adapting their supply chain lines and establishing trust with their truck drivers by launching a number of key safety measures – which helped retain our drivers to stay on track and mitigate business loss. Businesses that build trust with their employees, customer base, and suppliers are resilient.
  • Continue to Innovate. As institutions and leaders’ transition, adjust and recover from the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to remain curious and willing to adapt to new business innovative solutions. Continued disruption can make it really difficult to make a concrete plan for the future, but it can lead a company to develop better practices. Continue to assess your beliefs and processes and make sure not to revert back to ineffective ways of working.

Compassionate leadership is essential in building resilient companies that survive in the face of adversity. The health and wellbeing of employees and clients should continue to be a priority for leaders in order to build a stronger and brighter future. Join Stanbic Bank for the next installment of the series that is expected to return in the first quarter of 2021.

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Trouble understanding tax compliance and want to know where to start? David Rusoke and the Ugandan Revenue Authority are here to answer your pressing questions

Understanding tax compliance

When it comes to tax compliance, businesses should acquaint themselves with the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), an organization created by the Constitution of Uganda to collect taxes on behalf of government and consolidate those funds so the government can fulfill its mandate each year. The COVID-19 Business Info Hub sat down with David Rusoke, a team lead for tax literacy in the domestic tax department at URA, who works to “enlighten people on tax matters, their tax obligations and information that will enable them make informed decisions about the subject.” David helped us understand the ins-and-outs of tax compliance and how businesses can navigate Uganda’s tax compliance framework.

In simple terms, tax compliance is making sure that a business fulfills its tax obligations as outlined by the URA, which administers laws such as the Income Tax Act and the Value Added Tax Act, among others. The URA is responsible for collecting taxes stipulated under these laws – including the Value-Added Tax (VAT) and Pay As You Earn (PAYE) Employment Tax; both of which are critical to the operation of tax compliant businesses.

Fulfilling tax obligations starts with obtaining a TIN

To fulfill tax obligations, businesses start by obtaining a free, ten-digit Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), which is used to account for a business’ obligations as well as for other purposes such as obtaining an operating license. Once a business acquires a TIN, it is required to file annual tax returns and pay any taxes arising. Businesses become fully tax compliant once they pay any obligations after filing annual, bi-annual, quarterly, or monthly returns.

Businesses without a TIN may find their opportunities limited when it comes to partnering with other firms. Wherever you stand on the supply-line of the value chain, major players will require you to have a TIN so that they can fulfill their own tax compliance requirements. Ugandan law limits a business’ purchasing from businesses without TINs to 5M UGX. Purchasing any more than that creates a risk for larger businesses maintaining their own compliance. If a business is looking to work with the government, for instance, they’ll need to obtain a Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC) to be eligible to engage with any government agencies. government agencies.

Next, it is important to understand the rights and obligations that apply to your specific business with regards to fulfilling tax obligations. While these are outlined in Uganda’s taxpayer charter, there are many details and nuances that exist. For instance, many goods are taxed at higher tax rates to discourage their consumption and can impose larger tax burdens on a business.

Where to turn for help

It’s important for business owners to ask the right questions about their tax obligations and understand how to navigate the system, and there are a few options if business owners need somewhere to turn for help.

David explains that the URA is ready and able to help business owners through various advisory services including training and information made available in person, via radio, through webinars,  toll free lines and a Whatsapp Chat, and even on YouTube. Business owners can also access the URA’s web portal at ura.go.ug to download PDF forms to fulfill requirements as well as a library of information that can help answer any questions.

Business owners can also consider hiring a tax consultant, but David highlights that it is important to ensure the consultant is URA-designated, as any liability for a faulty return will fall directly on the business owner. He also suggests that business owners learn to understand their tax obligations for themselves because they will benefit from having greater ownership of their compliance obligations. Keeping on top of your tax obligations requires careful bookkeeping, so business owners who do so are more often in tune with their business records and sales performance.

Business owners are encouraged to contact the URA directly with specific questions for which training or support are made available online via the URA’s site. Callers can access a toll-free line at 0800117000 or 0800217000 that is available until 11 pm for help. Alternatively, questions can be submitted through email at services@ura.go.ug. For those who prefer an in-person experience, the URA’s service centers are open for business owners to visit their offices.


Skilling Agri-preneurship for Increased Youth Employment Program seeks to support youth farmers in Uganda.

With 14 million EUR in funding from the  Kingdom of Netherlands, the Association of Volunteers in International Service (AVSI) has launched the program “Skilling Agri-preneurship ship for Increased Youth Employment” to support youth in agriculture to improve their skills, production capacities, and market access. The four-year project launched this year and will run till 2024.

AVSI is implementing this project in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Agriculture Organization (FAO). AVSI has already trained a number of youth farmers across the country, including 50 from Western Uganda. With this project, AVSI will train and fund at least 16,000 youth farmers in Uganda.

Interested youth farmers are advised to reach out to AVSI offices for more information on how they can benefit from the project.

For more information on AVSI office addresses, visit AVSI.


Apply for the Innovation for Climate Resilience Fund.

The Global Innovation Fund (GIF), a UK-based non-profit impact investment fund, has launched the Innovation for Climate Resilience Fund. The Fund seeks to support entrepreneurs in climate resilience and adaptation and was established in partnership with the Adaption Research Alliance and Global Resilience Partnership, with seed funding from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

The Fund aims to address the challenge of generating evidence of impact and scalability of climate innovations through working with innovators to improve the rigor of measurement and evaluation towards climate resilience and adaptation.

The Innovation for Climate Resilience fund will finance innovators through grants, equity, and debt instruments, whose innovations demonstrate potential to scale and support the world’s poorest to build resilience and adaption. Global Innovation Fund has a staged funding approach where innovations in the pilot stage can receive up to USD 230 000, innovations in the testing and transition stage receive up to USD 2.3 million, and innovations in the scaling-up stage receive up to USD 15 million.

Innovations eligible for funding should fulfil the following:

  • Have an innovation focused on the poor
  • Present novel approaches
  • Be able to improve upon alternative solutions
  • Have innovations backed by evidence of potential impact
  • Innovation can be applied in several different settings
  • Demonstrate a potential to scale to reach millions of people
  • Be led by strong and dynamic teams
  • Be ready for investment
  • Demonstrate potential to generate new knowledge on what works
  • Demonstrate a clear role for Global Innovation Fund

To apply for the Fund, visit Innovation for Climate Resilience Fund.


Have a solution that aims to improve the lives of children in Uganda? Apply for the UNICEF Innovation Fund Challenge today!

UNICEF Uganda has launched its 2nd cohort of the UNICEF Innovation Fund Challenge, which seeks innovators whose ideas or solutions aim to improve the lives of children, especially those from marginalised communities in Uganda.

Successful applicants will receive several benefits, including:

  • Access to free technical assistance to realise or grow your business.
  • Access to mentors and expert coaches to provide tailored support.
  • Access to networks via Outbox, a tech innovation hub in Uganda, to enable you to pilot or further validate your concept.
  • Grant funding of up to UGX 80 million to validate your idea further.

Interested applicants must fulfil the following to apply:

  • Have cost-effective, efficient and scalable market solutions/ideas that aim to improve the lives of children in Uganda.
  • Have a team of at least two people.
  • Be a Ugandan citizen or currently living or working in Uganda.
  • Have the ability to use frontier technology in your approach, including data, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, the internet of things, augmented reality drones, blockchains.
  • At the time of submission, have raised less than UGX 185 million in either grant, convertible grants, venture capital, or private equity.

The deadline for applications is January 10th 2022.

To apply for the Innovation Fund Challenge, visit: Application

For more information, visit: UNICEF Innovation Fund Challenge


Want an insider perspective on the importance of business compliance? Joel Bamwise of the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited walks us through the most critical aspects

Joel Bamwise, Program Manager at Stanbic Business Incubator Limited (SBIL)– a subsidiary of Stanbic Uganda Holding Limited that works to support SMEs in Uganda through training and mentoring programs –  explains that business compliance is the “art of following the laws, regulations and existing laws and regulations of a country” that govern business activities. Beyond that, business compliance also refers to “ethical practices that a normal business should be able to carry out,” such as safety compliance to protect a business’ employees.

While the business compliance process may seem daunting, Joel explains that there are some clear benefits to taking on the task. Most important comes when scaling up as a value chain supplier because any single entity requesting a business’ services will require they be in good standing with the governing authority under which they operate, says Joel.

As a business owner bids for new opportunities, they’ll be required to have a tax clearance certificate (click here for more information on this document). More importantly, being business compliant can help win the loyalty of a business’ staff by providing them with government-supported benefits such as For instance, employees of compliant businesses may obtain national social security fund (NSSF) clearance, which makes them eligible for retirement benefits and can, in turn make them, more loyal to their employer.

Remaining fully compliant allows business owners to easily track the growth of their business through a better picture of their incoming and outgoing revenues. Tracking incoming and outgoing revenues simplifies the planning process – which ultimately supports the business’ expansion.

Joel breaks down the compliance process into three clear steps. First, a business must be registered with the appropriate authority. Depending on the type of business being registered, this can be done through the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, the Uganda Co-operative Alliance or any local regulator that oversees business registrations. Next, the business must obtain any licenses necessary to operate within their given industry. This is largely dependent on your local business district. The Central Business District of Kampala, for instance, is overseen by the Kampala Capital City Authority, which issues trading licenses that permit business transactions. Lastly, the business must pay its respective taxes and dues by acquiring a tax identification number.

SBIL has been successful in guiding a variety of businesses to fulfill their compliance obligations and unlock many of these benefits. For starters, SBIL provides businesses with lessons, coaching, and mentoring to guide them through the compliance process. Businesses are provided with various masterclasses to help them develop a growth plan that takes advantage of the opportunities available for compliant businesses. Similarly, they have brought in industry regulators to provide real-world advice from industry officials on the best approach to improve their compliance. Incubator businesses will hear from URSB and URA officials while getting the opportunity to ask as many questions as they need to best understand the information from these regulatory bodies. These sessions are critical for dispelling any uncertainty and give businesses the confidence to succeed in their respective industries.

Businesses in need of support can choose from a series of different programs provided by SBIL such as the Kampala Enterprise Development Program,Network For Innovation and Sustainability in Agriculture and Tourism and the Regional Enterprise Development Program. To help in their development, businesses hear from regulatory leadership and receive the tools they require for them to register and have the compliance checks in place. In addition, participants will engage with partnered legal firms who provide expertise in enabling businesses to make the right decisions about their compliance needs.


Trouble attracting investment to grow your business? Eria Kaweireku from the Uganda Investment Authority offers some key insights on how business compliance can unlock the door to new investments

Business compliance brings a host of potential new benefits for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The ability to take on more staff, access government resources, and engage in new corporate partnerships are among the lesser-known benefits brought about by business compliance. Another key opportunity is securing investment.

To help explain the importance of business compliance when it comes to investment opportunities, we sat down with Eria Kaweireku – a senior investment executive in the SME Division at the Uganda Investment Authority. The UIA is a statutory agency mandated to initiate and support measures that enhance investment in Uganda and advise the government on appropriate policies to promote investment and growth.

According to Eria, roughly 87% of the Ugandan economy is run informally. Eria explains that this informality stems from business owners’ desire to keep outsiders out of their operations, which are typically family-owned businesses operating out of their homes. In doing so, however, what business owners overlook is that this also keeps them from accessing important investment to further grow their businesses. Businesses are much more likely to attract investment – both local and foreign – when they have fulfilled local requirements. Large investors, especially foreign direct investors, are keen to mitigate compliance risks and specifically seek out new partnership opportunities with businesses that have a a risk mitigation strategy in place – much of it starting with the integral component of ensuring a business is registered and has taken the appropriate steps to operate legally and safely in a specific sector.

While it is a corporate government requirement that may take a bit of time to complete, it is a much smoother process than many business owners may think. Eria outlines a 3-step process that starts with business owners registering their businesses with the Ugandan Registration Services Bureau (Click here for our interview with the URSB). Next, they receive a TIN certificate from the Ugandan Revenue Authority. Lastly, businesses receive the necessary permits allowing them to operate within a particular sector.

In the past, it took businesses a long time to fulfill all of the requirements, but the introduction of the One-Stop Center has helped address that bottleneck. The One-Stop Center, based in Kampala, places all the regulatory agencies and authorities under a single roof. It streamlines the registration process by placing all registration services together so business can access “registration at the registration services bureau, TIN at the revenue authority, investment license at Uganda Investment Authority, [and] work permits [with] the director of immigration” at the same place.

To further simplify the process, in addition to the One-Stop Center, UIA has also launched the Tax Registration Expansion Program (TREP). The TREP is being championed by the Uganda Registration Services Bureau, Uganda Revenue Authority and local governments to make tax benefits simpler and easier to access. Eria reiterated the importance of business compliance to attracting investment, and he highlighted that the UIA is here to help. For more information, please contact info@ugandainvest.go.ug  or +256-393-202-077 / +256-393-202-076


Uganda Development Bank partners with Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited to support 2 million women entrepreneurs with access to finance

The Uganda Development Bank (UDB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL) to support 2 million women entrepreneurs with access to finance.  The initiative will provide loans of UGX 50 million to UGX 100 million to women entrepreneurs through UWEAL. Beneficiaries will access these loans at an interest rate of 10% to 12% – significantly lower than the rate offered by many financial service providers in the market. Women entrepreneurs who cannot afford to borrow UGX 50 million will have the option to access the loan through a group structure. The initiative aims to address concerns by women entrepreneurs about not benefitting from previous government relief packages because they were not sufficiently tailored to their needs.

In addition to access to finance, UWEAL seeks to mitigate other challenges women entrepreneurs face, including access to markets, access to government services, and other opportunities. UWEAL is currently operating in 32 districts.

To benefit from this initiative, register for UWEAL Membership here: UWEAL Membership.


Apply by December 3 for seed funding through the Pitch to Save the World Competition

Idea Foundry, a global impact investor in seed and pre-seed companies, is partnering with Ortus Africa Capital to make UGX 25 million available to Ugandan startups working to achieve one or more of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Companies are invited to apply for a chance to win UGX 12.5M (first place), UGX 7.5M (second place), and UGX 3.5M (third place) along with mentorship and the chance to be heard on a global stage. The initiative is part of Pitch to Save the World, a series of competitions launched by the Idea Foundry to support impact-oriented startups across the globe.

The application will be open through December 3 2021. After a selection process, ten applicants will move to the next round, where they will pitch at a virtual event in front of investors and other ecosystem participants. To be eligible for the competition, interested applicants must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be a legally registered for-profit company
  • Be registered in Uganda or have a significant presence in Uganda
  • Have traction and be beyond the ideation stage
  • Demonstrate a positive social impact in line with the UN SGDs
  • Be a woman-led or have a positive impact on women and/or youth.

To apply for this competition, visit the Application page here. Ten applicants selected to move to the next round will be informed in early January 2022, and the live event will be held in late January 2022.