Call for Agri-Processing and digital technology Proposals under the START Facility Fund

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3rd Call for proposals for START Facility
By :
Baluku Geoffrey

Kampala, UGANDA – The Support to Agricultural Revitalisation and Transformation (START) facility invites proposals for commercially viable agro-processing (active value addition) investment projects in northern Uganda.

The eligible small and medium enterprise (SMEs) include projects in five sub regions of Karamoja, Acholi, Lango, Teso and WestNile.

According to Deus Tirwakunda, the START Facility Project Manager, SME’s in the Karamoja sub region that will benefit from access to a customized mix of financing, business and project development services include districts of Abim, Amudat, Kaabong, Karenga, Kotido, Moroto, Nakapiripirit, Nabilatuk and Napak) while Acholi will cover Agago, Amuru, Gulu, Kitgum, Lamwo, Nwoya, Omoro and Pader district.

Other northern Uganda subregions considered include Lango; which covers Alebtong, Amolatar, Apac, Kwania, Dokolo, Kole, Lira, Otuke and Oyam district; Teso – includes Amuria, Kapelebong and Katakwi districts while the districts of Adjumani, Arua, Pakwach, Koboko, Maracha, Moyo, Obongi, Nebbi, Madi-Okollo, Yumbe and Zombo are considered as part of WestNile.

Mr. Tirwakunda notes that, the service lines will be managed by Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and Uganda Development Bank Limited (UDBL). This he said, is intended to offer access to affordable medium-term finance through provision of Business Development Services and seed capital in the form of concessional loans with an annual interest rate of 10%, reimbursable grants for SMEs impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, technical assistance grants and project based partial credit guarantee schemes.

Africa Tembelea understands that this funding is expected to contribute to increased food security, improved maternal and child nutrition, and enhanced household incomes as a key outcome of the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU). DINU is a Government of Uganda programme supported by the European Union for an amount of 132,8 Mio EUR (approximatively 603 billion UGX).

In order to benefit from this facility, businesses must be an agribusiness entity registered in Uganda under the Companies Act, a cooperative formed under the Cooperative Societies Act, trade association or similar business representative organization legally established in Uganda and located in one of the five subregions.

Additionally, applicants must be able to demonstrate their experience and capacity to manage activities corresponding in scale and complexity with those for which financial support is requested as well as to provide, from its own resources or in combination with other shareholders, equity equal to at least 25% of the total cost of the project.

The START Facility call for applicants also indicates that equity contribution of owners is mandatory and may come in form of land, plant and equipment or cash.

In the area of finance, Africa Tembelea has learnt that the capital expenditure required from an applicant must be at least 75% of the total project cost. However, non-capital costs which are direct to the project and necessary for carrying out the project may be accepted up to 25%.

For funds meant to cover the project financing gap requested from START Facility, this may range from UGX40m – UGX400m.

According to Tirwakunda, the total project size can be 3 times the financing gap, while leveraging extra funds from other institutions should be sought where necessary.

The project manager also reveals that priority will be given to enterprises including apiary, cassava, coffee, groundnuts, livestock, rice, sesame, sorghum, soybean, and vegetables. He, however adds that these value chain projects should contribute towards economic empowerment of women and youth, development of refugee hosting areas and reduction of environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

– How to apply –

All applications for the facility will be done online and the application form can be accessed on www.start.go.ug. The online forms are also available on the PSFU and UNCDF websites at www.psfuganda.org.ug or www.uncdf.org.

Tirwakunda, however says that, “no hard copy or email applications will be accepted,” adding that the deadline date remains March 15, 2021.

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