KAMPALA, 28 July 2020 – The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), with the support of the government of Sweden, has announced its partnership with four Ugandan companies to develop and scale up digital solutions that address the challenges smallholder farmers in Uganda face.
The solutions, which will initially be applied in the North and West Nile regions of Uganda and Kiryandongo district, aim to unlock the systemic constraints in the agriculture sector with the ultimate goal of improving the productivity of smallholder farmers and consequently boosting the livelihoods of vulnerable families and communities.
Supporting local innovators in Uganda is one of the ways in which UNCDF is working to foster an inclusive digital economy that leaves no one behind.
“As the world is turning to digital solutions to address day-to-day challenges, millions of people in Uganda including smallholder farmers, women, youth and refugees are at risk of being left behind,” said Chris Lukolyo, UNCDF Uganda Digital Lead, Tuesday morning at the Media Centre in Kampala.
“By supporting Ugandan entrepreneurs to build solutions that address particular needs of vulnerable populations, we foster the growth of the digital ecosystem, improve life in these communities and enable excluded groups to become more active participants in the economy.”
The following four companies will receive UNCDF funding:
1. Hamwe East Africa: Using their ‘My Koop’ digital solution. Hamwe East Africa will address the lack of transparency and inefficiency in the agriculture value chain by employing technology that provides forward and backward traceability of the entire value chain for both food and animals.
2. Nilecom: Nilecom together with Mezzanine and ICCO will leverage technology to automate activities of farmer groups. They will do so by creating bulking and aggregation centers and improve access to inputs, financing, insurance, extension services and markets.
3. Cabral Tech Limited: Through their Kilimo call center, Cabral Tech Limited will provide customized agriculture advisory and extension services to the hardest-to-reach smallholder farmers using mobile technology.
4. Quest Digital Finance Limited (Akello Banker): The company has developed a solution that facilitates easy access to farm inputs, expert-extension services, agro – advisory services, tools, and equipment for farmers while providing an option for smallholder farmers to pay, share or hire farming services or equipment on credit
“The Ministry of ICT and National Guidance welcomes these innovations because driving the use of technology to increase productivity in agriculture is one of the objectives of the digital transformation agenda of the National Development Plan III,” said Hon Judith Nabakooba, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance.
“We are witnessing first-hand the role that digital solutions can play in ensuring continuity in sectors like agriculture where disruption of services directly impacts food security and human survival, ” said Hon Vincent Ssempijja, the Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries. “We are excited about the new opportunities that these digital solutions will provide to smallholder farmers.”
Inclusive innovation is one of the workstreams of the UNCDF digital strategy—”Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era”—envisioned to promote inclusive digital economies, specifically in least-developed countries (LDCs), in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
In Uganda, the strategy aims to leverage technology to enable at least one million people access to, and usage of, impactful solutions in the sectors of finance, agriculture, health, education, and energy to improve their wellbeing.
The UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) makes public and private finance work for the poor in the world’s 47 least developed countries (LDCs). With its capital mandate and instruments, UNCDF offers “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development. This last mile is where available resources for development are scarcest; where market failures are most pronounced; and where benefits from national growth tend to leave people excluded.
UNCDF’s financing models work through three channels: (1) inclusive digital economies, which connects individuals, households, and small businesses with financial eco-systems that catalyze participation in the local economy, and provide tools to climb out of poverty and manage financial lives; (2) local development finance, which capacitates localities through fiscal decentralization, innovative municipal finance, and structured project finance to drive local economic expansion and sustainable development; and (3) investment finance, which provides catalytic financial structuring, de-risking, and capital deployment to drive SDG impact and domestic resource mobilization.
By strengthening how finance works for poor people at the household, small enterprise, and local infrastructure levels, UNCDF contributes to SDG 1 on eradicating poverty with a focus on reaching the last mile and addressing exclusion and inequalities of access. At the same time, UNCDF deploys its capital finance mandate in line with SDG 17 on the means of implementation, to unlock public and private finance for the poor at the local level. By identifying those market segments where innovative financing models can have transformational impact in helping to reach the last mile, UNCDF contributes to a number of different SDGs and currently to 28 of 169 targets.