SEED National Dialogue Forum 2018 sparks scale-up in eco-inclusive enterprise support and financing in Uganda
Uganda is among the first countries to embrace and adopt the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and remains steadfast in its commitment to sustainable development and green, inclusive growth. The SEED National Dialogue Forum 2018 (20 June) and Practitioner Lab Climate Finance (19 June) at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala were a continuation of ongoing conversations in Uganda about the role of the private sector and climate-smart enterprises in driving the transition to a socially inclusive and green economy.
Realising green and low-carbon economies in Uganda: How can we support, finance and replicate successful eco-inclusive business models to trigger action?
The SEED National Dialogue Forum 2018 in Uganda mobilised 80 representatives from enterprises, financial institutions, policy-makers and business development service providers to develop approaches and fortify partnerships that address central challenges to and capitalise on the successes of eco-inclusive entrepreneurship. The Forum was moderated by Magdalena Kloibhofer and Jonas Restle of SEED, with the support of Edirisa Sembatya of Finding XY. Eco-inclusive enterprises in Uganda and beyond are tackling global challenges by designing innovative, socially inclusive and environmentally sustainable solutions for clean energy, climate-friendly agriculture, and waste management. These solutions improve living standards and generate new opportunities for sustainable livelihoods in the transition to a low-carbon, inclusive green economy. Eco-inclusive SMEs have the proven capacity to lead this transition – with the support of key stakeholders and customised financing and business development opportunities.
Stakeholders unite to scale-up enterprise success
SEED was honoured to kick-start the event with the opening remarks of Joshua Mutambi of the Ministry of Trade, Industry & Cooperatives and Cédric Merel of the European Union on the status of climate-smart enterprises and the drive for a green economic future in Uganda.
Dr Mutambi emphasised the progress that has been made:
The introduction of resource efficient and cleaner production methods and practices in industries in Uganda has resulted into several achievements, including reduced energy consumption, improved fuel wood consumption, reduction in carbon emissions and greenhouse gases, as well as productivity improvements.
- Joshua Mutambi, Commissioner, Ugandan Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives
Mr Merel shared lessons from the EU’s Switch Africa Green programme – a SEED partner and the largest EU Programme promoting sustainable production and consumption in Africa. He celebrated the central role of small- and medium-sized enterprises in Uganda’s sustainable development, noting that:
Since SMEs account for approximately 90% of all Ugandan enterprises and 80% of employment in Uganda, they are critical to the large scale uptake of a green economy model and green job creation in the country.- Cédric Merel, Head of Cooperation, Delegation of the European Union to Uganda
Co-creating instruments to support, finance and replicate eco-inclusive business models
Following on from the highly motivational speeches, attendees not only were invited to share in the success of eco-inclusive entrepreneurship but actively engaged during the panel and roundtable discussion in jointly prototyping tangible instruments to support, finance and replicate successful eco-inclusive business models. The panel and roundtable discussion called on the expertise and insights of Julius Magala of UNCDF, Jay Patel of Village Energy Limited (SEED Award Winner), Juraj Ujhazy of AFC Agriculture & Finance Consultants GmbH, and Miguel Leal of Wildlife Conservation Society.
Despite the significant contributions of SMEs across sectors in Uganda, these enterprises continue to face significant barriers to realizing their full potential. In order to break down and overcome these challenges, the SEED team facilitated a prototyping session to design enabling programmes, policies and financial instruments that support and scale-up eco-inclusive entrepreneurship in Uganda.
At their tables, participants collaborated on solutions for effective SME support, ranging from
- Improved Business Development Services (BDS) and funding for BDS;
- Fortifying partnerships between private and social sector stakeholders;
- Dissemination of innovative technology;
- Programmes for financial literacy and investment readiness capacity-building; and,
- Development of markets for renewable energy supplies to SMEs.
Showcasing achievements in eco-inclusive entrepreneurship and partnerships
SEED and experts at the National Dialogue Forum are acutely aware that these instruments do not operate in a vacuum. Their relevance and usefulness depend on the context within which they are implemented; and are shaped by the unique characteristics of each enterprise they are designed to support. The voices of multiple enterprises present at the Forum ensured that processes of support instrument co-creation remain answerable to beneficiaries at the base of the pyramid.
The story of a Replication Journey, as told by Sanjay Patel of SP Renewable Energy Sources Pvt. Ltd and Herbert Murungi of Rural Environmental Sustainability Initiative (RESI), shed light on the invaluable support that SMEs can provide each other through SEED Replicator partnerships. Mr Patel and Mr Murungi partnered to adopt SP Renewable Energy Sources Pvt. Ltd’s business model for biogas production, proven successful in India, to the Ugandan context.
Mr Patel stressed the importance of the National Dialogue Forum to his efforts to replicate his business model and its positive social and environmental impacts in other global contexts, starting in Uganda:
Our reason [for participation in the NDF]: to make double the income of rural farmers… It has a lot of social advantages, to empower local women in rural areas. We want to train them on how to install, how to maintain and in the future how to manufacture.
- Sanjay Patel, SP Renewable Energy Sources Pvt. Ltd (SEED Replicator Orginator)
Mr Murungi advocated B2B partnerships between SMEs:
We met Patel through the SEED Replicator programme, and because of his business model’s uniqueness, we decided to take it and replicate his business model. Our first meeting with Patel, he made it clear that all he wants to see in the world is a just world – where people have clean energy and the environment is protected. And when he said that, we were like ‘this is the right person to work with’. It is now coming to one year in our Replication journey, and I must say that things are moving on smoothly and we are set to install our first plant [22 June] in our host community.
- Herbert Murungi, RESI Rural Environmental Sustainability Initiative
(SEED Replicator Adopter)
Other exemplary eco-inclusive enterprises were present during the Forum’s enterprise exhibition. The exhibition allowed attendees to meet the innovators and try out the products of thriving enterprises that have established profitable eco-inclusive businesses across sectors.
Momentum builds: Attention on Climate Finance for SMEs in green economy agenda
Common among these enterprises was the expressed need for additional and continued financing, customised to the unique needs of eco-inclusive SMEs. The one-day Practitioner Lab Climate Finance, which preceded the National Dialogue Forum on 19 June, catalysed the experience and expertise of around 60 practitioners from financial institutions, investors, and banks to identify, co-create innovative prototypes, and design the next generation of climate ﬁnance products. These financing products aim to help to supply to climate-smart enterprise by reducing risks, enhancing expected financial returns or bridging existing infrastructure gaps in Uganda. The Practitioner Labs in Uganda are part of an ongoing series of Labs, with upcoming Labs in India and Thailand.
Both the SEED National Dialogue Forum 2018 and Practitioner Lab Climate Finance events in Kampala are part of the implementation of “Financing and capacity building for micro and small climate-smart enterprises: Filling the gap of the missing middle”, a project supported by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety via the International Climate Initiative (ICI) and of "Promoting Eco-Entrepreneurship in Africa", a SWITCH-Africa Green multi-country project in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, South Africa and Uganda.