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UGEFA’s GFDF23 Drives Financing Solutions for Green SME Investments

UGEFA’s GFDF23 Drives Financing Solutions for Green SME Investments

NOVEMBER 2023 | Kampala, Uganda

The Uganda Green Enterprise Finance Accelerator (UGEFA) Programme recently hosted the Green Finance Dialogue Forum 2023 at Mestil Hotel in Kampala, focusing on the theme "Innovative Pathways to Scale Green SME Investments." Fully funded by the European Union (EU), the event served as a dynamic platform for over 110 participants from banks, donor organisations, green businesses and SME support ecosystem organisations, engaging throughout the day in insightful discussions and interactive sessions aimed at catalysing green sector financing.

The morning started with welcoming remarks by Sanne Willems, Team leader Green Transition and Private Sector, Delegation of the European Union to Uganda, and adelphi’s Manager Camilla Shaerman. Ms Willems: “Today we’re here to celebrate the achievements of the UGEFA Programme and to see how to continue leveraging funds for green SMEs”.

The morning panel session discussions revolved around addressing the existing funding gap for national green development priorities. Emphasis was placed on the banking sector's increasing interest in green sector financing, driven not just by risk mitigation but also by emerging market opportunities. Denis Mugagga, Head of Climate Finance Unit, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development: “We are taking green action. If our bank is green, the whole financial sector will be green”.

The morning panel discussions also addressed regulatory frameworks and demystified challenges faced by banks in green sector financing. The session culminated in identifying success factors and strategies to mobilise and deploy green climate finance effectively. James Junguru, Stanbic Bank: “The UGEFA Partnership is key to support enterprises meet the requirements needed to access finance”. Mr Junguru was joined in stage by two other bank representatives, Hannington Wasswa, Director of Commercial Banking, Bank of Uganda and Fred Kato, Equity Bank.

A vibrant showcase saw over 25 enterprises presenting their initiatives in sectors like coffee and soap production, clean energy, and sustainable tourism. Additionally, the event featured pitches by five UGEFA-supported green entrepreneurs, spotlighting their innovative ventures aimed at sustainability: Mwambu Wanendeya from Carico Café Connoisseur Ltd; Isa Kamuhangire from Bamusalim Services Ltd; Shallot Ninsiima from Whitesky 256 SME Ltd; Gerald Birungi from Green Creek Ecofarm Ltd; and Fred Ijjo from FOB Consult Ltd. Watch their pitches here.

A significant moment unfolded during the partner banks ceremony where the six UGEFA partner banks solidified their commitment to supporting green SMEs in Uganda, signing a symbolic agreement to unlock finance for sustainable initiatives. Representatives of Equity Bank, Yako Bank, Opportunity Bank, Stanbic Bank, dfcu Bank and NCBA Bank took part in the ceremony.

The afternoon panel session focused on exploring innovative instruments and approaches to facilitate and de-risk green sector financing. Cristina Bănuţă, Programme Manager Access to Finance, Agribusiness and Land, Delegation of the European Union to Uganda: “The EU is mainstreaming the green aspects in all its programmes”. The discussion underlined the need for a national taxonomy, which the EU will be working on, together with the Climate Finance Unit from Uganda’s Ministry of Finance. Hugh King, Private Sector Climate Change Adviser, British High Commission Uganda, Noah Owomugisha, Head of Green Growth and Business Development Services, aBi Finance Ltd, and adelphi’s Camilla Shaerman further shared experiences, highlighting solutions to current challenges and emphasising success factors for accelerating the mobilisation of green climate finance.

The event was followed by interactive breakout discussions aimed at ideation and co-creation of solutions to harness green finance opportunities. These sessions cantered on crucial questions regarding 'Financing Who?', 'Financing What?', and 'Financing How?' - pivotal aspects in driving impactful investments in the green sector.

Camilla Shearman from adelphi, Brian Mangeni and Patrick Seremba from Einstein Rising, and Peter Owori from REIGN moderated the discussion to identify the green SMEs looking for support and access to finance, and how to connect support offers and ensure the right support reaches the right SME at the right point in time. Engaged participants identified the need to create national ecosystem standards to identify what is considered bankable, and highlighted the need for integration of financial institutions along the process to define eligibility.

Rainer Agster from UGEFA, Ancel Ochino Bwire from Ancywax, George Bryson from Ichuli Consulting, and Fred Opio from Reinvent Business Solutions moderated discussions to define what is considered green and how to assess this on a practical level, as well as how to design green lending products in a commercially viable and accessible way. Participants underlined how partnerships and cooperation are key to building awareness and pipeline of investments, and how there is a need for systems and schedules for collecting the impact data from existing and green portfolios.

The Green Finance Dialogue Forum 2023 proved to be a collaborative platform fostering innovative strategies, partnerships, and insights to propel the growth of green SMEs in Uganda. The event marked a significant step towards leveraging finance for sustainable and impactful ventures, contributing to Uganda's broader green development agenda.


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European Union
European Union

Finding XY
The Green Enterprise Finance Accelerator is funded fully by the European Union and implemented by adelphi research gGmbH and Finding XY