Equity bank extends to rural areas to help youth

By Edwin Muhumuza

Equity Bank Uganda and DYNAMIC-(Driving Youth-Led Agribusiness and Microenterprise) program have launched a partnership to bring access to formal financial services closer to the youth through Equity’s Bank’s agency banking and digital finance model,equi-duuka.

Executive Director Equity Bank, Anthony Kituuka while speaking to Capital Radio,noted that they will be targeting 126,000 youth in nine districts in Northern Uganda including Agago,Kabong, Lira ,Abim and others. He added that ‘Equity has a financial structure , the money to lend if they want to borrow, capability to train them and using Equi-Duuka’s as our agency banking model to plant Equi-duukas everywhere and have the banks financial services accessible to farmers .’he said.

Agriculture is traditionally and has been a no–go area for many commercial banks in Uganda due to the immense risk associated with farming. This on account of poor farming methods, unreliability of markets and uncertain weather patterns

However Kituuka said that they see opportunity in northern Uganda especially, peace, flat terrain of land as well as rain. ‘We will ensure partnerships that link farmers to processors and markets, transforming farmers from small holders to agribusiness while engaging youth aged between 15-24 years.This in various aspects for example in research ,finding markets, improving farm techniques, access to financial services. Now Goal has the largest pool of youth whom they want to get engaged in gainful employment.’

GOAL Uganda, Country Director ,Jennifer Williams said that the growing youth population in Uganda is a great opportunity for the country’s economic development. ‘Creating decent and dignified employment and self-employment for this young population is our main objective in DYNMAIC program. The partnership with Equity Bank will definitely help to achieve this objective” she said.

DYNAMIC Program Director Netsaalem Gebrie noted that the partnership is meant to increase financial inclusion in northern Uganda and as a program they want to ensure increase in youth employment through providing whole skill training, vocational training ensuring

The head of Agency Banking, Julius Musiime when asked about the uncertinities such venture is likely to face said they were prepared for the risks because of the experience obtained at group level in Kenya,even in other areas of Uganda including Kasese with cotton, northern Uganda in Atiak with Sugarcanes. ‘Our role is to ensure that we support them and there is also a bit of financial literacy, connecting them to agricultural extension workers to ensure they embrace the best practices as well as markets to ensure that all their produce is sold. We are seeing it as an opportunity.’ He said.The total value of investment in the partnership is over Shs.200million.