No Money, No Problem

By on March 14, 2022

Uganda is praised around the world for a number of things. Two of those things are that we have a very young population and that we are an exceedingly entrepreneurial nation. And this reflects quite a lot in our everyday lives because almost everyone I know has some form of business they are running. Everywhere you turn, there is a Ugandan working hard to set up and run a business. Granted, a good number of these businesses don’t live to see their first birthday but overall, the spirit of entrepreneurship hovers over the country’s young population. 

Starting a business in Uganda isn’t rocket science. You just need an idea, a few shillings, a whole lot of confidence and a very resilient soul willing to take the hits when they come, because they will come. Once you venture into the jungle that is business, you soon realise that things are not as easy or fun as they appear. And because many of us are willing to fake it till we make it, giving up is usually not an option – that is until you realise you might as well throw in the towel before the business sucks the life out of you.

One of the reasons why several Ugandan businesses never make it to their first birthday is the issue of financing. And it is the same reason many Ugandans stay in the same old cycle of poverty – there is very little in the way of credit that is available to them. Most institutions that offer credit are uninterested in the plight of businessmen or women but rather in their own success.

It is quite heartwarming, however, that lately, there are several institutions that have decided to step into that space and provide some level of relief to some of these small businesses. There are now more and more institutions offering soft landings for people and businesses looking for some form of financial relief. 

There are three specific innovations that have caught my attention in the last few weeks.

The Unsecured Low-Interest Loan 

For a typical Ugandan business owner, getting a business loan is a tricky process. It is the reserve of businesses that have a wealth of assets that they can afford to use as collateral. Most financial institutions will not have any discussions with you for a business loan unless you are willing to let go of certain worthwhile assets. Sadly, not everyone has access to these assets. The guys at Numida have made things quite easy by offering unsecured and low interest loans to business owners. Numida is a provider of unsecured credit facilities to African micro & small businesses. With these guys, there is no paperwork involved (because it’s 2022, duh!), no collateral involved and no strange hurdles involved. And what’s even better, you get the loan processed within 2 to 24 hours and the cash is sent straight to your phone, How about that!

No site visits, no ridiculous letters from LCs, Village Chiefs or area witchdoctors. No long queues or waiting periods.

With Numida, all you have to do is download the app, fill in a few details about your business, take some pictures to prove that you really do have a business and then submit. And in under 24 hours, the money gets sent to your Mobile Money account just like that. If you own a business and are struggling for financing, these are your guys – no question about it. 

The Solar Loan Guys

A universal problem that many businesses in Uganda struggle with is the problem of power. The inability of one to fully trust that there will be no power shortages has sent several business into the pits of despair. But what if you were able to secure high-quality solar power alternatives with a legitimate financing plan? The guys at Village Energy are offering some pretty sweet deals to any home or business owner hoping to shift from the traditional reliance on UMEME to harvesting of Solar energy.

Priding itself as a Community Solar Expert, Village Energy will come over to your premises, look at your energy needs and set up a system that caters precisely to those needs. And when this is done, they will make sure you and they can monitor the system at all times. They also offer a warranty of two years, a period in which they have technicians on standby for regular maintenance and tech support.

Now here is where it gets interesting. Village Energy is partnering with a number of financial institutions to make sure that after they’ve done their assessment and given you a bill for your solar energy needs, you can then have a payment plan with institutions like Housing Finance, Finance Trust Bank, Equity Bank and a number of SACCOS around the country. Basically, they are trying to ensure that everyone can access Solar Solutions without having to break the bank. And to make things even better, they have a campaign that is running all the way till 31st March. In this campaign, they are offering discounts of up to 25%. If you were wondering when the time to get Solar for your Hospital, School, Hotel, Office, Factory or Farm was, this is the time.

 An iPhone for everyone?

The vast majority of Ugandans who would be considered the middle class, are great admirers of iPhone products. The pricing of these products usually sends them scampering towards the Android product stalls. And for a long time, it has been the reserve of fairly wealthy people to own iPhones. However, the guys at Sage Buyers have decided to step into that gap and create a platform where Ugandans can now own gadgets without having to part with an arm and a leg. The plan is quite simple; Sage Buyers has partnered with Lipa Later which offers hassle-free shopping at over 300 partner stores while one spreads one’s payment over affordable and flexible monthly instalments. The two are ensuring that you pay just 10% of the amount that an item costs, take it, and then pay the rest of the money over a period stretching up to 12 months. The campaign, named Pay Sage Later, is essentially meant to ensure that more people are able to own some of their dream gadgets without having to practice witchcraft, rob a bank or organise a car wash. 

The truth is that not everyone has chunks of money lying around so they can access business financing, get solar equipment or own an iPhone. But with institutions like Numida, Village Energy and Sage Buyer, one gets the feeling that even the low-income earner who is diligent enough can be able to access some of these things. 

The challenge now is for people to take advantage of these opportunities without abusing them, misusing them or letting them go by. 

For now, though, the average person can have a smile on their face because, despite the harshness of the economy, there are a few folks willing to offer some kind of support to those of us who are struggling. 

“Finance is not merely about making money. It’s about achieving our deep goals and protecting the fruits of our labour. It’s about stewardship and, therefore, about achieving the good society.” – Robert J. Shiller

Bernard
a.k.a Beewol
The Talkative Rocker
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