KAMPALA—At least 90,000 smallholder farmers are set to benefit from a new UGX 30 billion partnership between Stanbic Bank Uganda Limited (SBUL) and Opportunity International (Opportunity) a leading American global non-profit that works to build global financial inclusion and support the growth of rural businesses in the agricultural sector.
Under the partnership, Stanbic Bank—Uganda’s largest commercial lender by assets, customer deposits, and income—has committed ‘provide financing to smallholder farmers through the provision of agricultural loans at discounted interest rates of no more than 10% annually, while Opportunity shall provide capacity building training to Bank staff to enhance efficiency on Agri-financing, climate resilience, and portfolio management.
Other areas to be covered by Opportunity’s technical assistance will extend to building capacity on smallholder farmer finance, climate strategy, gender awareness in Agri-Finance, women and youth engaged in the agriculture value chain, digitization of the Village Savings and Lending Associations, monitoring & evaluation as well as SACCO, SMEs Capacity Building through the Farmer Support Agent (FSA) Model.
The commitments under the partnership will be implemented under Stanbic Bank Uganda’s COVID-19 response programme—the Economic Enterprise Restart Fund (EERF) through which the lender has been extending capacity building and affordable credit support to farmer, women and youth groups seen to be at the bottom of the economic pyramid.
“EERF is a multi-partner fund pooled together in 2020, to help small Ugandan enterprises recover from the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Stephen Segujja, the Fund Manager.
Through the fund, discounted credit is availed to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), savings and credit cooperatives (SACCOs) as well as village savings and credit associations (VSLAs) to enhance their productivity and provide both digital and technical support in governance capacity building and institutional development.
Opportunity seeks to reach 788,000 smallholders by 2025, specifically improving yields by an average of 25% and sees the three-year partnership with Stanbic Bank Uganda as a major boost towards the goal, according to Opportunity’s Chief Operating Officer, Atul Tandon.
“Smallholder farmers have some of the riskiest and toughest jobs in the world,” Tandon Said. “We want to see a Ugandan smallholder farmer who is not afraid of what will happen tomorrow because this partnership will help skill, tool and empower them to gain more control of their future through assured livelihoods.”
Stanbic Uganda Holdings Chief Executive, Andrew Mashanda has described the partnership as “symbiotic” and will allow the two organizations to leverage each other’s strengths to transform the lives of smallholder farmers, women, and youth through SACCOs and VSLAs.
“And this is precisely why we are big on these strategic partnerships because they allow us to synergize and serve our customers better—that way, we can truly drive Uganda’s growth. Opportunity has over five decades’ experience in financing bottom of the pyramid segments of the market where smallholder farmers lie; through this partnership, they will pass on that technical know-how to our teams which will improve efficiency in serving Ugandan farmers, women, and youth,” said Mashanda.
Timothy Strong, Opportunity’s Head of Agricultural Finance said farmers in sub-Saharan Africa have a pivotal role to secure global food production. “We have found that working with reputable financial institutions such as Stanbic Bank extends training and eases access to finance for smallholder farmers – increasing yields by up to 54% and incomes by up to 63%. If we can help our clients grow more and earn more money,” he said.