In an effort to boost Uganda’s renewable energy sector, key stakeholders met at the “Renewable Energy Business Accelerator Dialogue,” to address critical issues surrounding Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the renewable energy industry.
The initiative, organized by Belli Advisory and supported by GIZ Energizing Development (EnDev) Uganda, enabled beneficiary companies to receive training and mentorship in the areas of Strategic Planning, Investment Readiness, Marketing, Operations, Human resource management and Financial management.
The event, held under the theme “Empowering SMEs for Sustainable Growth,” focused on the significant role SMEs play in driving economic development, innovation, and wealth creation in Uganda, as emphasized in the 2022 Uganda Investment Authority report.
With over 2.5 million Ugandans employed in this sector, accounting for 90% of private sector development, their pivotal role cannot be overstated.
The service sector, which includes energy SMEs, makes up 49% of the total SMEs in Uganda, contributing at least 44% to the nation’s GDP.
However, despite their substantial contributions, renewable energy SMEs face various performance-related challenges, primarily stemming from ineffective business governance and limited access to finance.
“Even as we are talking about energy efficient stoves, we are ultimately driving at eliminating usage of firewood and charcoal altogether, and that is why we want to support these SMEs which are producing energy efficient technologies, to open up their markets and make their products affordable,” said Jacob Etunganan, one of the facilitators at the event.
The World Bank’s 2020 report revealed that SMEs struggle to secure mainstream financing from traditional banks due to factors such as a lack of collateral and inadequate record keeping.
Even SMEs with the requisite documentation still face difficulties in raising capital, with micro SMEs often considered high-risk and receiving less priority.
The Renewable Energy Business Accelerator Dialogue aimed to address these pressing issues by emphasizing the role of business development support services in preparing renewable energy SMEs to attract investors.
The dialogue delved into the challenges faced by businesses in accessing financing, the apprehensions of financiers, and the potential of BDS in bridging these gaps.
Additionally, the event explored innovative strategies for harnessing BDS to position these companies for long-term success.
Belli Advisory, the organization behind this transformative dialogue, believes that growth, innovation, and sustainable development are the way forward for the SME landscape in Uganda.