Happy Holidays from the COVID-19 Business Info Hub

Dear Esteemed Reader,

The COVID-19 Business Info Hub would like to send you our warmest regards for the holiday and festive season, in spite of the pandemic.

If you have suffered hardship in your business this year, you are not alone.  Businesses across Uganda (and the globe) have experienced unprecedented shocks including staff lay-offs and disruptions to the supply chain. However, in light of the challenges, there have also been testimonies of survival and even re-invention that has led to growth.

Through-out the year, COVID-19 Business Info Hub, has dedicated our content to help businesses like yours navigate the challenges of a new business environment by providing meaningful information on financial and non-financial solutions including what government is doing to support the sector, relevant business training opportunities, and highligts on different funding programs.

As we come to the close of the year, our site is focused on highlighting the Voices of Entrepreneurs. In November, we focused on women business owners who have not only survived but thrived! This month, we are focusing on the severely affected Tourism sector to highlight the different ways in which the sector can recover based on insights from the industry’s leaders from both the  government and private sector.

In the New Year, we expect to see continued easing and relaxation of government restrictions, and opening up of the business environment. We are already seeing new avenues for doing business as many businesses adapted during  the pandemic by implementing a digital first strategy.  We will be highlighting this shift to digital in the new year, and will shine light on the biggest adopters of new technology, youth entrepreneurs.

We look forward to how we can provide more insightful content to you in the New Year and we promise to do our best to inform you on what opportunities for growth and continued recovery exist. We hope to hear back from you too! From our content team at ConsumerCentriX and partners at Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited, and Stanbic Business Incubator Limited we wish you all the best of the holiday season and a happy new year!

Business owners

The Stanbic Business Incubator enables women entrepreneurs to reach their full potential as business owners

Photos by Blaire Davis Mugume

Hudah Tamale is no stranger to pivoting. When she began her business in 2015, she thought she could make money selling cakes. To attract new customers, she started offering herbal teas as a marketing strategy. However, she soon found herself becoming more excited over her tea products. After recognizing where her true passion lay, she shifted her business strategy and started focusing entirely on selling tea.

When the COVID-19 lockdown began, Tamale found herself needing to pivot her business, Nash Royal Tea, again. With social distancing measures in place, she needed to rely more heavily on digital marketing strategies. Luckily, she had already learned many of the skills that she would need through the Stanbic Business Incubator.

Today, she has a digital marketing strategy incorporated into her business plans and maintains an active online presence that has helped her through the pandemic. For women entrepreneurs struggling, she stresses the importance of digitizing. “If you don’t have an online presence right now, you are almost nonexistent in business right now,” she warned.

Women entrepreneurs in Uganda and worldwide have had to face a rapidly changing business environment while still taking care of their children full-time once the schools closed. Even in regular times, women entrepreneurs face well-documented barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential. Men are more likely to have the right information, training, and guidance to inform their dealings with financial institutions and plan effectively for their businesses in the long-term.

Through business development services, training, networking events, and mentoring, the Stanbic Business Incubator offers an enabling ecosystem for entrepreneurs to protect and grow their businesses. The incubator also provides participants with opportunities to engage with subject matter experts and access markets and finance. By joining the Stanbic Business Incubator, women entrepreneurs can take advantage of opportunities that they may have not otherwise had.

“Women entrepreneurs are a great resource to this country from our training we have come to realize that women play a very vital role in how enterprises are run and how enterprises are actually sustained over long period of time. Our commitment to the support of women especially the women entrepreneurs is one that we cannot deviate from. we have for a long time decided to have quota set for women entrepreneurs to be able to see them participate and enjoy the benefits of our training program. our commitment therefore is not a one of one off intervention. Many women have been part of this whole story especially after the realization that the lockdown or covid was going to impact on many businesses for a long time. we’re certain that we can be very much in partnership with a lot of women entrepreneurs to scale them to fir their dreams.”  said Tony Otoa, Executive Director, Stanbic Business Incubator Limited.

Meet Rachel Lubega

When she heard about the incubator from a friend, Rachel Lubega had already co-owned her corporate event business, Quality Management Services LTD, for 18 years. However, despite the longevity of her business, she believed she still had room to grow. “I felt excited because I love learning, getting training, and gaining new skills,” she said.

As part of the training, she joined a cohort of service providers that included some of her competitors. Through networking and personal bonding, she began to see her competition as potential business partner. “We even were able to get business together. It was great having to create that kind of relationship with our competitors,” she added.

Not only was she able to create business opportunities through networking, but she became more adept at auditing, bookkeeping, and digital marketing. To the benefit of her business, she transferred many of these new skills she was learning to her employees.

Like Tamale, Lubega found particular value in the seminars on digital marketing. “At the time, we had the website, but it wasn’t very active. But now I know the importance of having an active website.” She added that implementing digital strategies and maintaining a web presence has made a beneficial difference for her business during the pandemic.

As businesses across Uganda adjust to the “new normal”, so has the Stanbic Business Incubator. “We have had to rethink our program, going away from the typical classroom lecture mode into online tutorials and lectures,” said Otoa in a recent interview. He added that the shift made entrepreneurs hopeful because of a shared need for information on financial management, governance, and other issues critical to business survival in an economic downturn.

Participants are still able to network at the Incubator even though the classes are online.

“They introduce themselves at the start of every session and are given provision to state what each of their businesses is about, share experiences, and share their contact information with other participants,” said Nadia Ayaa, Program Coordinator, Stanbic Business Incubator Limited.

The switch from a classroom setting to online tutorials also creates more flexibility for women entrepreneurs, who often balance household responsibilities and business ventures. Instead of going to a classroom, they can access the training at the comfort of their home or office.

For more information about the Stanbic Business Incubator Limited, please call
0312 226 700

Enkola ya Stanbic Business Incubator esobozesa abakyala abasuubuzi okumalayo obusobozi bwabwe nga ba nnannyini bizinesi.

Huddah Tamale si mupya mu kukyusa mu bizinesi. Bwe yatandika bizinesi ye mu 2015, yalowooza nti ajja kufuna ssente mu kutunda kkeeki. Okusobola okusikiriza abaguzi abapya, yatandika okubaweerako amajaani g’obutonde. Wabula, amangu ddala yakizuula nti amajaani ge gaali  gasinga okumucamuukiriza. Bwe yategeera ky’asinga okwagala, yakyusa enteekateeka ze n’asalawo okwemalira mu kutunda amajaani.

Omuggalo gwa COVID-19 bwe gwatandika, Tamale yeesanga nga yeetaaga okukyusa mu bizinesi ye eya Nash Royal Teanate. Mu nkola eya tonsemberera, yali alina okwesigama ennyo ku nkola ey’okunoonyeza akatale ku mutimbagano. Kya mukisa nti yali amaze okufuna obukugu obw’enjawulo ng’ayita mu Stanbic Business Incubator.

We twogerera, mu nteekateeka za bizinesi ye yateekamu n’engeri gy’ayinza okutundira ebintu ku mutimbagano ate n’afuba okwekuumirako ekimuyambyeko okuyita mu nnawookeera. Eri abakyala abasuubuzi abali mu kulwanagana n’embeera, akkaatiriza obulungi obuli mu kukolera ku mutimbagano. “bw’oba teweekuumira ku mutimbagano olwaleero, kyenkana obeera nga atali mu bizinesi” bwatyo bwe yalabudde.

Abakyala abasuubuzi mu Uganda wamu n’ensi yonna okutwalira awamu babadde balina okusisinkana enkyukakyuka ey’omuggundu mu nkola y’emirimu olw’okuba nti ate babadde balina okulabirira abaana oluvannyuma lw’amasomero okuggalwawo. Ne mu mbeera eya bulijjo abakyala abasuubuzi basisinkana emiziziko egimanyiddwa mingi era egibalemesa okumalayo obusobozi bwabwe. Abaami bo kibabeerera kyangu okufuna amawulire amatuufu, okutendekebwa wamu n’okulungamizibwa ku ngeri gye bayinza okukwataganamu n’ebitongole ebiyamba ku by’ensimbi n’okukola enteekateeka ennungamu kwe batambuliza bizinesi zaabwe.

Ng’eyita mu nkola eziyamba okukulaakulanya bizinesi, okutendekebwa, okuzimba enjegere wamu n’okuwa amagezi, Stanbic Bizinesi Incubator etondawo embeera esobozesa abasuubuzi okukuuma wamu n’okukuza bizinesi zaabwe. Enkola eno era ewa abagyetabyemu omukisa ogw’okusisinkana ba kafulu mu bintu eby’enjawulo wamu n’okufuna obutale nga kwotadde n’okuyambibwa mu by’ensimbi. Okwegatta mu nkola ya Stanbic Bizinesi Incubator, abakyala abasuubuzi kibasobozesa okufuna emikisa ate oluusi gye batandifunye.

“Abakyala abasuubuzi kya muwendo nnyo eri eggwanga lyaffe. Nga tusinziira ku misomo egitegekeddwa, tukizudde nti abakyala bakola kya maanyi ku ngeri ebitongole gye biddukanyizibwamu wamu n’engeri ebitongole gye biyimirizibwawo okumala ebbanga eddene. Okwewaayo kwaffe eri okuyamba abakyala naddala abasuubuzi kye kimu bintu bye tutasobola kusuula muguluka. Okumala ebbanga eddene, twasalawo okuba n’enteekateeka ey’enjawulo eri abakyala abasuubuzi okubasobozesa okwetaba wamu n’okuganyulwa mu kutendekebwa okutegekebwa. N’olwekyo okwewayo kwaffe tekugendererwamu kuyamba muntu omu; wabula abakyala bangi babadde kitundu ku lugero luno naddala bwe kyamala okuzuulwa nti omuggalo gwa covid gwali gugenda kukosa bizinesi nnyinji okumala ebbanga ggwanvu. “Twekakasa nti tusobola okukolagana n’abakyala abasuubuzi bangi ne tubasobozesa okutuukiriza ebirooto byabwe” Bwatyo Tony Otoa akulembera Stanbic Business Incubator Limited bwe yagambye.

Bwe yawulira ku nkola ya bizinesi incubator okuva ku mukwano gwe, Rachel Lubega yali amaze emyaka 18 ng’addukanya bizinesi eteekateeka emikolo, Quality Management Services LTD era nga y’omu ku bannyini yo. Naye wadde nga yali abadde mu bizinesi okumala ebbanga ddene, yali akkiriza nti wakyaliwo obusobozi bw’okugikulaakulanya. “nnawulira nga nkyamuukiridde kubanga njagala nnyo okuyiga, okufuna okutendekebwa wamu n’okufuna obukugu obupya” bwatyo bwe yagambye.

Ng’ekitundu ku kutendekebwa, yeegatta ku kibinja ky’abakola obuweereza obwo abalala era nga muno mwalimu ne b’avuganya nabo. Bwe baatandika okuzimba enjegere wamu n’okubeera awamu, yatandika okutunuulira abamuvuganya ng’abantu b’asobola okukola nabo emirimu. “Twatandika n’okufunira awamu emirimu. Kyali kiyitirivu okusobola okugunjaawo enkolagana ey’engeri eyo n’abatuvuganya.” Bwatyo bwe yayongerako.

Teyakoma ku kutondawo mikisa gya kufuna mirimu gyokka ng’ayita mu kuzimba enjegere, yeeyongera n’okukuguka mu kwekkaanya eby’enfuna, okukuuma ebitabo wamu n’okunoonyeza akatale ku mutimbagano. Ku lw’obulungi bw’omulimu gwe, bye yali ayize naye yasalawo okubisomesa abakozi be.

Okufaananako nga Tamale, Lubega naye yazuula omugaso ogw’enjawulo mu misomo egiyigiriza okunoonyeza akatale ku mutimbagano. “Mu kiseera ekyo twali tulina website naye nga tekozesebwa kiryawo. Naye kati mmanyi omugaso gw’okubeera ne website ekola.” Yayongeddeko nti okussa mu nkola obukodyo bw’okuddukanyiza emirimu ku mutimbagano wamu n’okwekuumirako kikoze enjawulo ya maanyi nnyo mu bizinesi ye mu kiseera kya nnawookeera.

Nga zi bizinesi okwetooloola eggwanga zikyusa mu nkola zaazo, ne Stanbic Bizinesi Incubator tesigadde mabega. “Tubadde tuteekeddwa okuddamu okulowooza ku nkola yaffe era bwe tutyo ne twesulubabba enkola y’okusomeseza mu bibiina ne tutandika okuteeka emisomo gyaffe ku mutimbagano,” Otoa bwatyo bwe yagambye. Yayongeddeko nti enkola eno yawadde abasuubuzi essuubi olw’engeri gye balina obwetaavu okumanya ku bintu eby’enjawulo omuli okuddukanya eby’enfuna, obukulembeze n’ebirala ebisobola okuyamba bizinesi okuyimirirawo mu kiseera ng’eby’enfuna bigootaanye.

Abeetabyemu nakati basobola okuzimba enkolagana mu bbanguliro newankubadde nga basomera ku mutimbagano.

“Beeyanjula ku ntandikwa ya buli musomo era ne baweebwa n’omukisa okunnyonnyola ebikwata ku bizinesi zaabwe, bannyonnyolagana bye bayiseemu era ne bawangana endagiriro,” bwatyo Nadia Ayaa bwe yagambe, ono y’akwanaganya enkola ya Stanbic Business Incubator Limited.

Okukyusa enkola okuva ku kutuula mu kibiina okudda mu kusomera ku mutimbagano kwongera okuyambako abakyala abasuubuzi olwokuba kibanguyiza ku kutemaatema obudde obw’okutuukiriza obuvunaanyizibwa bw’awaka ate n’eby’emirimu. Mu kifo ky’okugenda mu kibiina, basobola okwetaba mu kutendekebwa nga basinziira mu maka gaabwe oba mu ofiisi.


Okumanya ebisingawo ku Stanbic Business Incubator Limited, kuba ku ssimu

0312 226 700





Call for Applications for Youth4Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Facility

United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has partnered with Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited (Stanbic Bank) to support youth owned enterprises and MSMEs through the Youth4Business Innovation and Entrepreneurial Facility. The Facility is intended to spur innovation and address the ongoing challenge of youth unemployment, particularly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the initiative, UNDP is calling for applications for the Innovation Challenge Fund, which will provide competitive matching grant awards as well as mentoring, capacity building, and entrepreneurship development training to youth owned MSMEs. Successful applicants will receive between USD 10,000 and USD 40,000 (UGX 37,089,000 and UGX 148,356,000) in cash/ or in-kind support (goods and services). In addition, successful applicants may also receive 12 months of tailored business development services and enterprise development training from the Stanbic Business Incubator and mentorship from UNDP Accelerator Lab.

Download your Application Form

Who is eligible?

  • MSMEs legally recognized and registered under the Laws of Uganda.
  • MSMEs operating in any of the targeted sectors of agriculture, tourism, development minerals, manufacturing, renewable energy, Information Technology (IT) and creative industry; with a product or service on the market.
  • The call targets MSMEs looking to pilot and or scale their inclusive business models and solutions (inclusive business models and solutions are enterprises that include low-income people as customers, as owners, employees, producers and entrepreneurs at various points within the value chain).
  • Ugandan youth entrepreneurs who would like to acquire technical knowledge, training, and practical tools to support their businesses.


How do I apply?                                   

MSMEs interested in accessing this component of the Youth4Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship Facility should submit proposals and other related documents to y4bf.ug@undp.org with a copy to tenders.kampala@undp.org. The deadline is Monday 30 November 2020 at 23:59 hours (East African Standard Time).


Where do I find more information?

Uganda National Development Program



Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited

Tel:  031222460

Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited COVID-19 Response to Support SME Sector

Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited (SBU) recently announced its half-year results, where it is indicated that the bank offered credit relief to over 1,600 clients across business sectors. The bank has over 40,000 SME clients, and over 60% of its loan portfolio was restructured to provide financial relief to SMEs. The COVID-19 Business Info Hub interviewed Stephen Segujja, Head of Enterprise Banking, to understand the bank’s response to the SME sector.


How has Stanbic Bank responded to the needs of the SME segment during the pandemic?

Apart from loan restructuring, we have also started a program to support SMEs by providing financing to them to kick start the economy. This initiative is based on the fact that the economy has opened up and the bank is more than willing to support key sectors to drive growth. We have also reduced our prime lending rate to 16% on top of waiving loan facility fees and ensuring a guaranteed response time of 3 days once SME clients apply for facilities.

What relief/restructuring solutions has the bank offered to its SME clients during the pandemic? 

The bank has offered relief solutions to all borrowers whose businesses have been impacted by COVID-19, including customers who had exposure in our various products such as vehicle and asset financing, commercial property loans, home loans, working capital loans, import and export loans, overdrafts and all other short-term exposures. Apart from restructuring solutions, we also reached out to all our borrowers to understand their challenges, how COVID-19 has impacted their businesses and to help advise them on how to revamp their businesses. Most businesses have picked up and are running again. We also ensured our SMEs are on digital platforms to solve for cash collections and payments, which ensured continuity of business transactions for our clients.

Of the businesses that were able to restructure their loans, what has the positive impact been?

The positive impact has been on two major fronts, i.e on the customer and on the bank. From the customers’ point of view, the relief period allowed them time to rethink their businesses without the stress of loan repayments since there was no business activity ongoing but lots of lessons to learn. Our clients were able to diversify their activities, some turning to offer essential products and services during the pandemic. Adoption of robust digital solutions like online selling and delivery were especially key for restaurants and other essential businesses. From the bank’s perspective, the restructuring has enabled us to maintain a clean loan book while ensuring that our customers continue being served.

What lessons can be learned from the process?

As a bank, we have learned to be more resilient and future-ready in serving our customers. It’s important to note that digital adoption and utilization by our clients remain a key focus of the bank going forward. Further still, by being agile in terms of engaging our customers on restructures without them coming to us meant we placed the customer at the center of everything that we do.

What advice can the bank offer to SME clients to continue to thrive post COVID-19 from a financing perspective? 

Our advice to SMEs during this pandemic includes:

  • Let businesses adhere to Standard Operating Procedures and utilize our digital platforms going forward. It is cheap, easy and convenient. These platforms include; Mobile Banking *290#Internet Banking, Business Online, Enterprise Online, Agent BankingATMsCash Deposit MachinesPoint of Sale Machine/Card MachineFlexipayand the Stanbic App.
  • All SMEs should spare some time to attend the various knowledge series run through the webinars especially through our Stanbic Business Hub and the Business Incubator since there is a lot to learn.
  • Business diversification is key to reduce risk; for instance, if a given sector is closed due to a pandemic, then it is easier to keep afloat if another line of business is open.
  • Keeping in touch with Relationship Managers to enable them to understand customer needs is also important for customers to received effective financing.

How can businesses get in touch with Stanbic Bank?

To restructure an existing loan, call your Relationship Manager or Business Banker, or connect with us at 0312226600 or via email at enterprisedirectug@stanbic.com. We also have our social media platforms open – Twitter  (https://twitter.com/StanbicUG), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/StanbicUg) and blog (https://blog.standardbank.com/uganda) and  website www.stanbicbankuganda.com. We can also be reached 24 hours a day at our toll-free line: 0800250250. Most branches remain open and are operating from 9am to 3pm, Monday through Saturday.


AMI Virtual Speed Networking

AMI Virtual Speed Networking Event

Every month, we provide a supportive space for a community of ambitious entrepreneurs from across Africa, to network in this structured speed networking session.

This virtual networking event includes:

Don’t miss this opportunity to learn and network with entrepreneurs from across the continent next week Wednesday 30th September 2020 at 8 p.m. EAT / 7 p.m. South and Central / 6 p.m. West Africa / 5 p.m. GMT.

Limited slots are available.

Register Here!

Apply Now to the Stanbic Business Incubator Enterprise Development Program!

The Stanbic Business Incubator invites applications from Uganda’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to participate in an enterprise development training aimed at enhancing local SME’s capacities and promoting business resilience and sustainability.


Why your business should enroll

The Stanbic Business Incubator provides an enabling environment for entrepreneurs in small and medium enterprises through the following programmes:

  • Business Development Services and Business support
  • Training and follow-up support interventions
  • Networking events, focus group discussions and access to subject matter experts
  • Mentoring and coaching for entrepreneurs after formal training
  • Provide opportunities for access to markets and access to financeThe next stage of development and support is targeting SMEs in various sectors from Central, Eastern, Western and Northern Uganda to participate in the August 2020 intake.

How to Apply:

Interested SMEs in Uganda (Central, Eastern, Western & Northern regions) that would like to be a part of the program can apply through https://survey.zohopublic.com/zs/u4bf6V For more information, please call 0312 226 700

Message from Anne Juuko, Chief Executive, Stanbic Bank Uganda

The Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector remains the engine of growth for economic development, innovation and wealth creation.

- Anne Juuko
Chief Executive, Stanbic Bank Uganda

Empowering Uganda’s SME’s – The engine for growth

Message from Anne Juuko – Chief Executive, Stanbic Bank Uganda

Amongst all the sectors in Uganda, the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector remains the engine of growth for economic development, innovation and wealth creation. In recent reports by the Uganda Investment Authority, SMEs are spread across all sectors with 49% in the service sector, 33% in the commerce and trade, 10% in manufacturing and 8% in other fields.

An amazing fact is that over 2.5 million people are employed by SMEs in Uganda. They account for approximately 90% of the entire private sector, generating over 80% of manufactured output that contributes 20% of the gross domestic product (GDP).
However, despite this significant contribution to GDP, SMEs remain constrained by lack of financing, skills, business records, poor corporate governance, limited ability to adhere to terms and conditions of business contracts, and fierce local and international competition. These limitations lead to the high mortality rate of SMEs and limited growth for those that survive.
With that in mind, Stanbic Bank has been deliberate in its efforts to support the SME’s sector. We continue to put in place key interventions through collaboration with key partners to enable sustainable SME growth and longevity.

Stanbic’s support in the wake of COVID 19
The world today is facing a wave of uncertainty and a tough business climate brought about by the Corona Virus pandemic COVID19. As a financial institution at the heart of the economy, we feel these shocks and understand the impact the pandemic is causing not only to your day to day lives, but also your business operations. We are therefore proud to be a part of the COVID-19 Business Info  Hub, a one-stop-shop for all the information that you will need to be able to overcome these challenges and see how Stanbic can support you during this time.

SME loan holidays
Stanbic is offering relief programmes such as loan holiday packages for business and personal clients as measures against the economic impact caused by the COVID19 global pandemic.
We are encouraging all our SME customers whose incomes have been impacted as a result of COVID19 to apply for a payment holiday of up to 90 days based on their unique circumstances. We are encouraging our clients to reach out to our business bankers, relationship managers or contact our customer care centre.

Our Enterprise Banking solution has been uniquely tailored to serve the needs of SME clients in Uganda. We are embarking on a journey to broaden our operating model while building a digital bank for our SME clients. Enterprise Banking speaks to our clients’ real needs and ambitions to grow beyond being small or medium sized businesses.

Stanbic support to SME development
Uganda as nation cannot grow without growing the SME’s and supporting their growth and development is a priority for Stanbic Bank.
Stanbic established a Business Incubator in 2018, aimed to provide training and capacity development for SME’s in Uganda. The trainings are free charge for SME’s and more importantly – you do not have to be a Stanbic client to apply and participate.
We have also expanded this programme and successfully launched regional incubator centres in Hoima, Mbarara and Gulu in order to avail training and development opportunities to SME’s upcountry.

Stanbic digital banking platforms
Stanbic offers Digital solutions for business owners make it possible to bank remotely and our relationship managers are available via phone and email to assist wherever possible.

For SME Clients:
Enterprise Online: You can enjoy this free service to manage all your business needs on the go. For more information contact the team at enterprisedirectug@stanbic.com

Enterprise Direct: This a dedicated call centre, a call away to speak with a business banker for all your business needs. Call us on MTN- 0312 222 660 or Airtel -0200 546 600 or UTL-0417 266 600.
We remain committed to supporting all our clients during this time. Together let’s take action to ensure we keep each other safe and we shall do all we can to see your businesses thrive now and in the future.

Thank you.


Anne Juuko

Chief Executive, Stanbic Bank Uganda.

Why business development and training matter for SMEs

The COVID-19 Business Info Hub spoke with Tony Otoa, Head of Enterprise Development at Stanbic Bank Uganda to understand how the Stanbic Business Incubator is meeting customer needs in this time of crisis.

COVID-19 will change how we think, how we relate, how we do business. If there was ever a time for businesses to focus on business productivity and sustainability, it is now. We need to make this possible for them.

What are the main business development needs of the SME sector in the face of COVID-19 and how is the Business Incubator serving these needs?

The biggest challenges for them are business survival – how to survive and sustain themselves over the next phase – and cashflow. Businesses need to understand how to take care of their businesses in terms of cash flow. The Stanbic Business Incubator has had to rethink our program, going away from the typical classroom lecture mode into online tutorials and lectures. This has been received with a lot of hope, because right now, businesses need this information on financial management, governance, and other issues critical to business survival more than ever.

Are there any other initiatives the Business Incubator is undertaking?

Stanbic Bank, in partnership with African Management Institute, has set up a program that is going to be supporting businesses within our system to become more resilient, more adaptable. The Business Survival Bootcamp takes care of the immediate demands of businesses in terms of how to run and operate. The program is free and open to entities within the Business Incubator.

How can businesses get in touch with the Business Incubator?

Call us on: 03122226700, 03122224873 or Email us at: OlukaE@stanbic.com, AyaaN@stanbic.com, and OtoaT@stanbic.com


Business Survival Bootcamp

To help African businesses continue to thrive, AMI is offering a free webinar series, with a ‘COVID-19 Business Survival Toolkit’.

Sign up

How Stanbic bank is meeting customer needs in this time of crisis

The COVID-19 Business Info Hub spoke to Stephen Segujja, Head of Enterprise Banking at Stanbic Bank Uganda to understand how the bank is meeting customer needs in this time of crisis.

We will be there for you as a bank. We have supported you when things were going well, and we will support you in this difficult time to get back on your feet


How has the SME sector been affected by COVID-19?

First, about 4,900 companies were actually completely closed. We are talking about 80 to 90% of SMEs. Second, from a lending perspective, we have seen lending to SMEs drop by over 75%. Third, looking at transactions, the number of transactions has dropped drastically by almost 60 to 70%. This all speaks to the impact that COVID-19 has had on the sector.

How is Stanbic Bank supporting its SME customers during this time of crisis?

Stanbic Bank has developed a number of interventions including:

  • Debt relief for up to 12 months, depending on the sector
  • POS machines to facilitate cashless transactions
  • Access to purchase goods from China through a super-agent to avoid the need for travel
  • Financing remains available for businesses still operating in the supply chain
  • Enterprise Online platform to facilitate payments

How can businesses get in touch with Stanbic Bank?

To restructure an existing loan, call your Relationship Manager or Business Banker, or connect with us at 0312226600 or via email at enterprisedirectug@stanbic.com. We also have our social media platforms open open – Twitter  (https://twitter.com/StanbicUG), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/StanbicUg) and blog (https://blog.standardbank.com/uganda) and  website www.stanbicbankuganda.com. We can also be reached 24 hours a day at our toll-free line: 0800250250. Most branches remain open and are operating from 9am to 3pm, Monday through Saturday.

Interview with Stephen Stephen Segujja, Head Enterprise Banking

Q: Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Stephen Segujja and I am the Head of Enterprise Banking, where the SMEs and local businesses sit, at Stanbic Bank.

Q: Can you tell us about the SME sector in Uganda?

The SME sector in Uganda is basically clients who are involved in the day to day running of businesses, local businesses in and around the country. They cut across various sectors. The sectors are oil & gas, manufacturing, trade and commerce, educational sector, the NGOs, and also people involved in infrastructure. Also, not forgetting clients in agriculture and agribusiness. SME stands for small and medium enterprises. What we mean by small is those enterprises who are mainly beginning businesses. They have left the startup stage but are in business between six months and about two years. These are businesses where they have invested some capital between 100,000 to about 3 million shillings. Looking at the people they employ, these enterprises employ between 1 and 5 people. They are small in nature but have potential for growth. What we mean by medium enterprises, they have invested quite a lot of capital in their businesses, from about 3 million all the way up to 500 or 600 million shillings. Looking at how many people they employ, it is between 5 to 15-20 people. We have those that have left the medium stage, which we look after as well. They have usually invested between 1 billion shillings up to 3 or 4 billion shillings. They now employ between 50 – 100 or 150 staff in their businesses.

Q: What challenges are SME clients facing during the COVID 19 crisis?

Looking at COVID and the times we are in, I don’t think there is a segment that has been as hard hit as the SMEs. The reason I say that is that SMEs are involved in value chains, so even when you find a startup, you find that these are businesses that are usually at the end of the value chain or involved in distribution or small manufacturing. The reason why COVID has hit these people the most is because when we talk about disruptions in these value chains, the suppliers are already affected, these supply chains have been cut off much earlier. They were not able to import raw materials in time. The second one is from a local perspective, when we talk about lockdown, you find that because of social distancing, these larger companies have closed down and are not able to supply SMEs. Because of no movement of people, although there is movement or cargo, you find that cargo has not been able to be supplied to the businesses, who then cannot supply it to the final person. So that is in part where the challenges are. Second, looking at the value chain, you can also look at cashflows coming in. There are no buyers at this time, so businesses do not have cashflows immediately. They cannot pay their staff, they cannot pay their suppliers. They have not been able to have the cashflow to purchase and to then supply the final person. This is why the SMEs find themselves in the heat of this pandemic.

Q: Can you give us a quick snapshot?

Looking at the number of companies that actually closed, about 4,900 companies were actually completely closed. We have about 280 companies operating now. We are talking about almost 80-90% of these SMEs actually closed. The second is access to the markets; even from a lending perspective, we’ve seen lending to SMEs drop by over 75%. Third, looking at the number of transactions these SMEs are doing, you find the number of transactions has dropped drastically by almost 60-70%. This all speaks to the impact that this has had on the sector.

Q: What initiatives is SBU undertaking to support SMEs at this time? Please be as specific as possible on what the bank is planning to do by sector.

It is times like these that your financial partner comes in strong to support you. Our clients, our SMEs in this economy, this is when they need us most. There are many things we have done to support demand:

  1. With support of the central bank, we have been able to provide debt relief to our customers. They have allowed us up to 12 months. This 12 months is depending upon the sector because the sectors have been hit differently. It could be a sector like tourism, which will be hit harder for much longer, or it could be a sector like health, which has not been hit as hard. So we have provided moratoriums to support our customers until they are back on their feet.
  2. Because of social distancing, we are supporting our clients that are still operating by helping them to collect their money. To protect the clients and their customers, we have put together Point of Sale (POS) machines, so the clients do not need to go with cash and touch and give out cash. They can go with a card and purchase goods without cash exchanging hands (given the risk of cash transmitting COVID-19).
  3. A third is a solution around FlexiPay. We allow our clients to be able to go to any of our clients to be able to pay.
  4. We also have many agents spread across the country. If a client cannot come to a branch, they can go to an agent to transact.
  5. Another is around clients that are still importing. Cargo has been allowed to continue to come in. Our clients used to travel to China, India, or Dubai. 90% of our goods, especially in trade and commerce, are from China. We have a super-agent in China – Zhejiang International Trading Supply Chain Co Ltd, also known as Guomao that can receive orders without the client actually traveling to China to purchase goods. The goods are put on a ship and sent to Mombasa and then come to Kampala.
  6. Lastly, the economy has not yet closed, and there are some opportunities we have seen in priority sectors, those around health, construction, agriculture. We have our doors open for clients in those sectors that need financing. We continue providing financing to those clients. In the education sector, we have allowed some of the schools to come and access financing to be able to pay teachers.
  7. In regard to our clients who are still in the supply chain, we are providing bridge financing based on invoices so businesses can continue operating. Once receivables come in, they can pay off those loans. We are providing invoice discounting and contract financing around this time. Some clients need small overdrafts to continue running their businesses, paying their workers, running their factories, paying utilities. We are still supporting those clients needing overdrafts around this time. We can provide that within 48 hours.
  8. In terms of enabling our clients to pay their workers, their utilities, all the payments that they have, we have provided a platform called Enterprise Online where they can actually access that payment using the platform.

Q: If an SME needs to refinance an existing loan with SBU, what steps should they take? What other coping solutions are available?

If a client has a running loan with us, the first thing that we have done following support we received from the central bank, we have asked clients to contact their Relationship Manager (RM) or Business Banker (BB) or the branch closest to them to apply for this debt relief. It is important customers actually apply and tell us how many months they need this debt relief. We will do the assessment and come back to the client. We do an assessment and then give you a letter of consent with new terms and conditions and schedule payments to a later stage. If you can’t contact your RM or BB, there are numbers you can call to access someone from the bank who can help at: 0312226600 or we have an email address: enterprisedirectug@stanbic.com. We have also been very proactive. We have called up as many of our customers as we can to get updates, understand what they need, what support we can provide.

Q: How should customers engage with the bank (Call Center, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, etc.)? Have there been changes to branch opening, operating hours, staff availability, etc.?

We have our social media platforms open – Twitter  (https://twitter.com/StanbicUG), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/StanbicUg) and blog (https://blog.standardbank.com/uganda). You can also contact us via website at www.stanbicbankuganda.com. We have adjusted our opening times in line with the government directive. We have shortened our time from 9am – 3pm, Monday to Saturday. Most of our branches are open. You can also contact us at our toll-free line, 24 hours: 0800250250.

Q: What can business owners do now to prepare for a new post COVID business environment?

I always tell people that situations come to allow you to rethink about your business. This is a time when I encourage business owners first of all not to panic. COVID has come but also COVID will go. One of the things is that our SMEs and businesses need to do is look at where they can create more efficiencies within their businesses, digitize within their businesses. Delivery has become the new norm with social distancing. These are things businesses will get used to. Embrace digital – it is very critical at this time. The second thing is around how to expand markets beyond here. Some opportunities have developed out of this. How do you look beyond operating just [in Uganda]? A final thing is to analyze, look at where you are sourcing from, and ask how you can use some of the tools that the bank has created to source goods.

We have a Business Incubator, where we offer non-financial services, support. I encourage our clients to [join the incubator]. It is free of charge. Come and register with us. Here we can discuss how to support you during this time. WE will be there for you as a bank, even in the hard times. We have supported you when things were going well, and we are happy to support you in this difficult time to get back on your feet.