In low- and middle-income countries, the private sector creates employment and plays a key role in economic development and poverty alleviation.
However, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises often lack the skills, finance, or supportive business environment to grow. For some groups, such as women, launching or growing a business is even more difficult due to social and cultural norms.
OPENING UP THE UGANDA’S ROAD INDUSTRY TO 300+ SMALL FIRMS
Uganda’s road sector has long been dominated by big, state-owned and often foreign companies. Smaller businesses struggle to acquire the necessary equipment to deliver road construction and rehabilitation contracts.
Meanwhile, because of the perceived high risk of default, banks are often reluctant to lend to small contractors and provide them with a guarantee that would cover the client in case of poor performance.
Within the DFID and EU-funded technical assistance CrossRoads programme, IMC has established a £2 billion Construction Guarantee Fund (CGF) that provides half of the guarantee requested.
The CGF strengthened banks’ confidence and improved small contractors’ cash flow as they no longer needed to use all their funds as a guarantee. It also increased competition, profitability, cost effectiveness and investments in the country’s road sector.
The fund's innovative nature was recognised in 2014, when it received the UK Association for Consultancy and Engineering Research, Studies and Consulting Advisory Award.
To learn more about the programme, download the booklet CrossRoads - Five years of Progress.
Partnerships that benefit Nepali farmers and entrepreneurs
CONNECT is part of the Rural Access Programme in Nepal and has linked 3,000+ subsistence farmers with businesses that now purchase their agricultural goods in long-term agreements. Those farmers now have steadier demand and income and can plan for the future, while local banks can confidently provide loans to new rural markets.
CONNECT has selected 228 women, the Hamri Didis (in Nepali, 'our sisters'), who have been trained by our partner Unilever Nepal to work as rural sales agents.
As a result, rural communities now have access to essential products and income-generating opportunities.
Multinationals like Unilever and banks such as Prabhu Bank Limited can now sell their products and services to remote communities, which would otherwise be inaccessible.
CONNECT has also appointed 427 young women for the leadership role of Yuva Vayus (‘Youth Wind’).
They mobilise the commercial farmer groups to which they belong and help them have their voices heard within their community and beyond.
In 2017, we received the UK Association for Consultancy and Engineering Collaboration Champion of the Year Award for CONNECT.
CROSS-CONTINENT BUSINESS VENTURES THAT IMPROVE AGRICULTURE AND HEALTH PROSPECTS
The DFID-funded Connect to Grow programme matches Indian innovators that help the poor with African and south Asian businesses with a market opportunity in health or agribusiness.
The idea is that both can grow more effectively when partnered together. The programme, implemented by IMC with Innovation Alchemy and Ashley Insight, provides the advisory support and grant funding that has built 20 partnerships.
One partnership brings India’s water ATMs, manufactured by Akshay Swach Jal, to Kampala through Ugandan importer Sparkles.
These water ATMs offer access to safe affordable water with cash or prepaid cards.
Through another partnership, Indian company Bharath Agrovet transfers its expertise in producing cheap yet high-quality poultry feed to Zimbabwean agribusiness Grain Solutions. This, in turn, helps local farmers to improve livestock production.