KIU, Western Campus – According to the Uganda Business Impact Survey 2020 conducted by the United Nations, 85% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Uganda will experience distress after the lifting of lockdown measures to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey suggested that the government should aid in reducing the existing financial burden on companies and improving their access to affordable capital.
However, the private sector has also played its part in helping out private Small and Medium Enterprises, corporate companies, the informal sector and individuals to lessen the impact of the lockdown on them.
In June, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to launch the COVID-19 Economic Recovery and Resilience Response Program.
According to the MasterCard Foundation and PSFU, part of the 31 billion shillings relief fund will give financial assistance to at least 200 qualifying enterprises whose operations have been affected by COVID-19 to survive and thrive in new and existing local and international markets.
In August, the 97Fund, a Ugandan based Open-end Investment Vehicle managed by Ortus Africa Capital- an investment firm - launched a $1 million COVID-19 Relief Fund to support promising entrepreneurs in the post-pandemic period. The COVID-19 Relief Fund offers US$2,000-US$10,000 to firms with an option of follow-up funding.
Various Ugandan banks have offered relief to customers in the form of loan repayment extensions. Absa gave loan extensions of up to 3 months for SMEs, 6 months for business banking customers as well as corporate and investment banking customers.
Stanbic Bank offered loan holidays to its customers including corporate and small businesses while Centenary bank offered a grace period of 12 months on loan repayments for borrowers affected by COVID-19, which went in effect on April 1.
On September 19, Prudential Uganda, a local insurance firm, extended free Covid-19 cover to its clients until November 30, 2020. The 30-day cover includes a daily 100,000 shillings allowance for suspected COVID-19 patients under mandatory quarantine in government health facilities and a 200, 000 shillings daily allowance to patients in Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
As the economy reopens, albeit gradually, such measures will bring hope to many businesses whose future had looked bleak after the lockdown, which has dragged on for over 6 months.