GROFIN SGB FUND- A solution to unemployment

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) collectively constitute about 90% of private sector production and employ over 2.5 million people.  According to a national small business survey carried out by Financial Sector Deepening Uganda (FSDU) (2015) there is limited access to finance because they don’t have collateral, legal requirements shortcomings and high interest rates.

Statistics also show that more than 70% Small and growing businesses don’t survive the first three years of operation. This is because according to a study by Grofin Small and growing business Fund, a fund cut out to support SMEs, of lack of access to appropriate business finance or capital, lack of business support and lack of an enabling environment.

The Fund was co-created by GroFin, a pioneering SME development finance organization and Shell Foundation, an independent charity, based on their 11 year track record of providing vital support to under-served SGBs in Africa and the Middle East together with the German development bank KfW, a seasoned founder of structured funds.

GroFin operates in Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, and Nigeria.

The Fund is robust and is in partnership with Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries, Norfund, and the Dutch government through the Dutch Good Growth Fund (DGGF) and KfW development bank from Germany.

The GroFin SGB Fund seeks to address these challenges by providing African entrepreneurs with an integrated solution of patient growth finance, tailored business support, and access to markets. Based on the viability of an entrepreneur’s business and growth plans, and not the availability of collateral, entrepreneurs will be able to access loans ranging from US$100,000 to US$1.5 million for a period between two and six years.

The GroFin SGB Fund invests in the form of local currency, medium term, self-liquidating debt that has a repayment structure which is aligned with the business cash flows.

The fund is keen on investing in high-impact sectors such as healthcare, education, agro-processing and energy in addition to other sectors that support inclusive growth. It should be noted sole proprietorship isn’t considered and are only considered if the there are plans to convert them into companies as part of pre-investment business support.

Small and Growing Businesses are key to development in developing countries because they contribute 90% to the jobs in those countries. The GroFin SGB Fund is a welcome investment in Africa and it is exceptional that it seeks to support and encourages more women and youth to take part in entrepreneurial activities. The fund plans to create over 47000 jobs by supporting over 9800 entrepreneurial ventures over the next 10 years.

The job market is going to get a boost with this as skilled and unskilled workers will get a share in this great investment. The impacts of development accelerated by the businesses can measured by the social infrastructure created after their inception.

If you want to learn more about  how you can get access to finance for your business check out the website www.grofin.com as the fund has been launched in Uganda!

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POT BELLY

He sat with his belly hugging his knees, the weight of its bulk sinking him lower and lower into the grey cushioning of the sleek black range rover. The sun was glaring out of the sky like a beggar who had been handed a bible instead of money and the heat watered his clothes.

“Go and pick her up”, he sharply told the driver.

He was seated at the back of the beast. He always sat at the back for caution; his lofty perch on the social ladder wouldn’t let him ride shotgun.

The driver, a herculean in a white turtle neck with a bald neck sat at the front staring into nothing, waiting for another instruction. The two minute silence was a threat he knew so well and so he leaped out of the vehicle to pick her.

The fat man seated inside the car with tinted windows flicked his watch, Kadogo the driver had spent only spent ten minutes away but it seemed like an eternity.  His brow drowned in sweat. Where was he? He couldn’t open the window that would be clumsy, He couldn’t risk getting out of the car; nobody must see him. And so he sat, sweat dripping impatience stretching time as the sleek black car sat with him outside Nana Hostel. Nana is a popular hostel with throngs of lustful fathers and greedy daughters in the parking lot at any one time of the day, and this being a Friday it was not shy of the stereotype.

“I’m sorry boss she took long to get out of her room”, mouthed the burly man as he took his position in the car.

“Next time your body will be found in the sewage trenches of Kalerwe”, came the bellowed reply.

There was silence.

BABE, don’t get annoyed, I had to wait for Nancy to come back we lost the key”, cooed the new entrant in the vehicle.

Faux gold loop earrings clung against each other like cutlery as she extended her yellow hands with blood red nails to rub his belly. He chuckled. He liked it when the young girls rubbed his belly; it made him feel something his wife had failed to make him feel in a while. Rose perfume permeated the sweltering prison.

A tight red dress fastened her body together and the display of yellow thighs was what the fat man needed. The orange hair on her head made his eyes teary she reminded him of a colourful piece of corn candy from back in his childhood; he pained for it then and he pained for her now. Her hair looked like the hide used to make crowns for warriors and her eyes were always colored with excitement. He didn’t care that it was feigned because he liked her.

She made him feel young. She was energetic, yellow, and stupid just like the doctor ordered.

She barely spoke sense; he would give her money so that she could talk about the plan for the money. Konshen’s concert, Peruvian hair- women like having things that are not theirs, shoes, and all the nonsense a 23yr old bimbo would spend money on although for a fact he didn’t know her age and she didn’t know his either. Their business was not about age.

We are going to the usual place in Mukono”, the fat man told Kadogo as he stretched his hand to touch the thigh that was beckoning him and the car purred to life as it set off.

A white Toyota corona that had been revving since the burly man had entered the parking lot followed the black range rover.

Mrs. Ponku had had enough. After 20yrs, she had to accept that her marriage was not working because of the scourge of infidelity and she was bombarded by stories of husband roaming hostels-picking up different young girls. She was plump dark lady who had aged gracefully with a head that was covered in grey hair which she proudly showed off. It had earned her the name Mzungu.

Mzungu told her sister about her woes. Her sister who was an agony aunt convinced her to call the popular TV Show Lady Scovia of the famed CHEATERS and today Mzungu was seated with Scovia and videographers from ABS TV. They had responded promptly even after short notice. The black range rover had moved out of Kampala and the uncertainty of the tango had made her start biting her nails, a bad habit she had acquired ever since she started planning to expose Mr. Ponku.

The Black range rover parked in the only available spot exclusive at the HIGH CLASS HOTEL. Scores of expensive cars littered the parking lot.

Mr Ponku stepped out of the range rover when Kadogo opened the door. Kadogo towered over the rotund frame of his boss. A few seconds later a yellow girl emerged from the vehicle and she placed her arm on the waist of her partner. They wobbled into the bar.

Mzungu remained in the car with the Avengers- Only for a while. She entered the hotel and started frantically searching for her husband. After thirty minutes she managed to force her way into the private bar. The conviviality of the room was easy to explain- swarms of old men sat with visibly younger girls as they watched obscenities on the stage.

Ponku you shameless Idiot!!!”, screeched Mzungu.

I… I…I… can.. explain Mzungu”, Ponku replied meekly.

“Explain what?!” Mzungu countered, her verbal attack just picking up momentum.

She leaped onto his table and slapped the head lights out of the girl who was facing down. The TV crew was already in action, as other young girls scampered to hide away from the cameras. The half-naked women on the stage looked disconcerted by the recent turn of events. They gathered their props and run off the stage.

Mzungu threw the platter of meat off the table. She mustered all the energy she could and kicked her sweating husband in the stomach. He yelped.

STOP! Please stop! Let me explain” cried Ponku.

Mzungu blinded with fury couldn’t hear what he was saying. She had come to teach him a lesson. She started throwing plates at him. Hotel security flooded into the room and tried to hold her back.

Let that idiot explain”, she screamed over the two burly that were holding her back.

That girl! I don’t know what she wants from me”, explained Ponku as he begun to regain his wits and a faint light bulb went off in his head “She follows me everywhere I go! She brought me here by force and bought me steak. In fact thank you for coming you have saved me a great deal”, he added without flinching.

There was silence.

WHAT?” screamed Mzungu.

Laughter rang out in the room.

Mzungu who was heaving and panting felt the bile fade out of her like chilliness of the morning when the sun rises in the morning. She was married to a fool and she knew it. The guards had let her go while they were laughing at Ponku’s excuse.

The crowd had gathered in record time. They lambasted his behavior and jeers were the soundtrack to the movie.

She picked up a pile of plates and aimed for Ponku’s belly, his most beloved asset.

For my children”, she screamed as the plates hit Ponku.

He thunderously fell to the ground.

I’m not famous yet.

mask

I slam my 8th cigarette butt into the once white but now brown ash tray on the table. I am alone as usual, sited in the mostly dimly lit part of the room facing the piano; the giant bearded piano that is in the far corner of the dimly lit bar.

It’s a shadow of its former self, as what once used to be black is covered with scratch marks that speak of an old age.

I live in this not so crowded bar but not many people know that. They know me as quiet lady who sings blues every night and neither do they know that I sometimes dance in a moving band called Bad news. Bereft of talent, we diligently scout the city looking for sympathy by singing folk songs for drunkards in the markets and taxi parks and though we barely make money off it, but the tired jokes and feeling of togetherness is worth it. I don’t have many friends, my ‘careers’-that’s what normal people call it, hasn’t given me that freedom.

I wanted to be a star. I wanted to be on the list of greatest artist of all times that was hung on the lilac wall of Sound radio; my favorite radio station. I visited it once when I had just started performing jazz music and I spent the whole experience at the studio staring and trying to memorize whatever was on the walls; faces, names, lyrics, star poses and none of them was mine. I knew then that I had to appear on the list. My interview with the radio presenter was exhilarating and we got so many enthusiastic callers that day that I didn’t sleep all night.

I sigh as I exhale in misery. This bar’s history is etched on my memory like veins on a leaf. I know the sound of the front door when they open it in the morning-it is my alarm clock, the light that seeps through old card board that makes the walls of my room at the back of the bar when the windows are opened wakes me up totally, I know which customers prefer cold beer, warm beer, vodka, soda. I know it when a husband is cheating on his wife with a co- worker. I know it when Moses, the handsome energetic bartender is feeling blue; bless him. I know it when the crowd isn’t into my art-my music. I can feel their negative energy consuming me like darkness after twilight, creping slowly but with an effect that can’t be denied.

It makes me happy, yeah, for I can read the crowd and change to what they like. I live for them.

I would have been a star if it wasn’t for that night.

My voice is angelic and I know it. I can see it in the crowd’s eyes when I sing one of their favorites, “Don’t forget me in the water”. They weep for my fate and often times I have interrupted the rain of tears with cheeky interludes.

That night; the memories still haunt me and my skin still remembers the feel of the flames licking it. Nobody knows what happened and all I remember was waking up to the flames engulfing me. The fire; he stole my face, he almost took my soul and he made off with my skin. The pain flashes across my mind but the scars linger on; I see them in my career and when I face myself in the mirror and now all am left with is singing to a drunken crowd in a bar.

Singing with a mask on and at least then they love me.

I have to reassure myself and my friends in the singing band, the bar owner who has let me live here all these years; all 8 of them. I have to reassure them that I still want to be a star on my own show. My body screams for it like the afternoon sun. I want it. I will be a star.

“Hey Mollie, We want a song!” a common reveler yells.

The bell rings around the bar and the decision is unanimous; I have to sing. I step out onto stage dressed the same way I do every night; in a mask, a wig, a long sleeved dress and a jacket. That’s what they know me for here and nobody knows my story or even bothers themselves to find out. I lazily walk over to the piano and my fingers gently caress the first key they find. “Do” I feel the adrenaline rush through my body like it’s the first time, I hear the clock strike midnight and my mouth like a cage door springs open and  lets lose; setting free my tongue that rushes forth like a bird in search of freedom. Together they  begin a mating call, sing a song in unison.

My night has begun, it’s midnight and I’m not yet famous.

Mean Meetings, Big Parties & Starved Marriages

I agree.

The CHRONICLES of Eristaus

This was written by my friend and brother Paul Turyagumanawe and posted here with his permission. He implores the challenges that face Ugandan weddings today. He tackles the fact that weddings in Uganda today seem to be synonymous with having money or being rich. Worse still people would spend what they don’t have/earn to have a huge wedding party at the cost of even a good marriage. There seems to be a misconception that a wedding and a marriage are the same.


Friends, we have come of age at a time when the biggest part of the marriage is the wedding day.
An American friend told me a while ago that if you come to Uganda for a wedding ceremony and fly back immediately, you may go away thinking that Uganda is a land of only rich people. It was meant as a joke, but seriously, when it comes to…

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Flea market: Green Jeans

Shoes! Shoes! 10,000shs only, a man yelled in my left ear just as he extended a firm grip on my arm. His voice was the loudest in my circumference considering the choir of vendors singing discount songs in the market.

Sister! Nice shoes, he said in forced English as he tightened his grip on my arm.

I winced in pain and said OK. I wanted him to let me go. This is what happens in the flea market. It’s filled with a mob of vendors who are more than willing to harass customers if that’s what they have to do to make a sale. He let me go.

I looked down at the bevy of animal print shoes. I found it rather uncanny that the display was meticulously uniform ranging from ankle boots to flats, every one of them had black spots.

Sister, which one do you want? The vendor asked in an anxious tone as he squatted onto the torn tarpaulin. I pointed at one of a pair of flats and the vendor offered to help me put it on. Great! First class service in the market, i wished that he would  offer me a drink, dreams! I put my foot in, the wetness of it’s inside felt ticklish and I stifled a giggle. In the flea market, most of the shoes are usually wet. This is a perfect decoy and on a good day one would buy worn out shoes easily. I took off the shoe despite the vendor singing songs  of praise, he even called my large flat foot small! I lifted it towards the dim flashlight hanging from the shelter, a torn umbrella because it had fitted well. I scratched the sides and flakes of paint came flying off. A little more probing made the vendor uncomfortable and he snatched the shoe from my hands. But not before I had seen its true coat, the purple animal print shoe must have been a dirty brown shoe when it left the factory. A tirade of insults followed my discovery and I quickly walked to another stall.

I spotted a lady watering apples, a mechanism designed to make apples appear chilled despite having spent the whole day sun bathing. I licked my lips. I was still thirsty.

A lady who was visibly not small in any aspect was inspecting the clothes on a nearby stall. She hissed at the mockingly tiny clothes on display. The vendor on my stall managed to get her attention and when she looked at him he  shouted, Hey Smallie! She thunderously marched away like a hen, a mother hen retreating from a dog. He snickered.

I was at the jeans stall and I ravaged through the smelly pile, yes second hand clothes smell like detergent, sunscreen and other smells I can’t put a finger to. I landed on a pair of boot cut Levis that were just what the fashion doctor had ordered. I didn’t need the persistent songs of praise from the vendor to buy them. I hastily paid for them and spent my whole journey back home imagining how I would look like in them. I had always wanted a pair of green trousers. I knew what should shoes I would wear them with and the coat, and lipstick, ha ha this is my only lie. I never know what to wear.

I reached home, bounced into my bedroom and  immediately tried them on. I had trouble lifting them past my legs. What are my legs? Drums? It didn’t feel good at all. I wiggled and then pulled them up to the thighs. At this point, they seemed to have exceeded their expansivity, mark you they were not spandex, I’m a fool! I put my right leg forward in a manner only a salsa class would have taught and the right side was covered! Aye! Aye! Captain! I makarenad and the left side of the jeans went up slightly. Redemption is coming!  My backside was a display of vulgarity. I had a duty to zip up and close the button. If I were a bottle of syrup, my pained jumping up and down would be justifiable, it’s always shake before you use with them. No, I a human being who  was being molested by jeans, clothes! My fingers burned with the burden of pulling up the trousers. I sweated with despair. My green jeans dream was burning like the Kampala sun. They couldn’t fit! I should have bought the shoes, I thought to myself. I decided to lay on my bed and made spasm like movements. I had seen this work before. It didn’t work. Wearing the trousers had turned into yoga class! I lifted my knees to my chest and folded them just as pulled up the trousers. Voilà! Finalement! They FIT! I laughed uneasily. The trousers felt like being inserted into the minced meat machine at the abattoir. But they fit and that’s all that I cared for. Just as I was zipping up, I felt the sides loosen up. They are spandex after all i convinced myself as I tied the button and all the saints in the threads of the hips gave way. I felt my legs sigh with freedom. My money went to waste in under an hour. My mind screamed this is a horrible show fast forward. My tongue clicked on the roof of my mouth, I was still thirsty and I had bought torn trousers.

Orphan black:

Orphan black is a BOOM BOOM POW!! It is the khaleesi to those poor dragons called my destructed mind. It’s hard for me to watch like 10 seasons of a TV show, Grey’s anatomy fans are definitely martians. But I love me some orphan black! Cloning was virgin territory, aside from the religious Zero hour where they tried cloning Jesus ( ah cmaan, Jesus? Cloning God, you are in God’s image!). And Orphan black seemed to be the North star to this mystery. And yes it is. I’m entirely into the show and going on about its important revelations is not for today. We may not need cloning after all we have friends ( who may not look like us but are like us anyway) who are like these clones.

1. Sara Manning: CON
Great job science and trying to figure out how we can out live diseases and live longer, and many other reasons for cloning. We don’t need to science to have friends who are cons. Many people have that one friend who will always find a way to leave a place with a little present or souvenir. And I am not talking about taking the miniature lotion and travel soap from a hotel room, after all, they paid for it! It’s about that friend who never leaves a fancy restaurant without getting a free plate of food because the one that was served to them had a cockroach, they skillfully planted in after eating half the meal. Its about that friend who leaves with a napkin/fork/knife or anything they can lay their hands on in a fancy restaurant.  Its about that friend who even after hearing the taxi tout’s iteration that the fare is 1000ugshs, will board the taxi and offer to pay only 300shs because that’s the price they want. When asked why she takes unsuspecting restaurant’s napkins, Tracy said unabatedly, They have many!

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2. Elizabeth Beth Child’s: Police detective

As a Ugandan, police detective sounds like chinese, Xin Can Hugaxin ( I hope that’s not an insult, please universe). We know of CRIME PREVENTERS. If you ask me, since I have never seen them in action, I think they stand with bats on the road side waiting for crime to happen and swing it away before it flourishes. If anything our police detectives detect money, after looking at you they sheepishly smile and ask you questions like do you know how that room looks like? And boldly describe the money they want. I want the brown or the red one! Not straying, we all have a detective friend. They always have a theory to everything. Why Ritah was dumped, her boyfriend was cheating. But first, who is ritah ? No, she isn’t your friend. Or that friend who is always following the rules. They won’t go out to the beach because the weather man said it will rain. When in a strike, they are the ones who keep reciting the rules being broken. That friend who knows every musicians background story, how Nicki minaj is a Nigerian ( roman consumes all her pidgin English, LOL). They are the ones who confront suspects of “crimes” committed against the gang. They know why the chicken crossed    the road

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. Sigh.

       road. S

igh

.

3. Alison Hendrix : Soccer Mom
Everybody had that one friend who is perfect. Hair, perfect! Clothes, perfectly ironed! Composure, perfect! Meeting deadlines, 200%! Time keeping, perfect! These are friends who can take time off to tutor you how to style your hair in 5mins or even can offer to do chores so that you can keep up to date with neatness. However, they battle with the craziest addictions like beating up their lovers, OCD, name it!

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4.  Helena : Assassin
This is the shooter friend. The one who always destroys the enemy. This is the friend who always advocates for people’s rights. The friend who screams at the conductor for using the wrong route. The friend who will have a bar fight that isn’t even his own. This is the friend who hatches plans to get back at your ex and boy do they always work! This friend is absolutely bonkers! This is the friend who receives phonecalls and shouts over the phone to the callers telling them to l

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eave him/her alone. Highly effective. mc

5. Cosima Niehaus : The connection
In all the chaos, amongst a group of friends, cosima always has a way of calming everybody down. They are  one of the biggest reasons why you are all still friends. But they suffers from multiple personality disorder because how can one be close to all those different people?! Cosima still remains an enigma despite you all thinking that you know her and has

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a clever solution for every problem.

And I have left out Rachel Duncan because I DON’T LIKE HER, also I don’t wish people to have friends who manipulate others because they think they are superior. Who needs clones? I don’t!

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