Mentorship to benefit agribusiness SMEs

Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) owners engaged in different start-up agribusinesses across the country have been equipped with aanced skills mentorship on a holistic approach to manage sustainable enterprises.
A recent mentorship programme in Kampala sought to transcend the usual agribusiness entrepreneurship that emphasises aspects like value chains systems into other areas like human resource management that boosts efforts directed at job creation initiatives.
The current regular agribusiness skills training structured for SMEs are bent on how to bolster agricultural production and productivity through modern agronomical practices, agro-processing and marketing. The programme seeks to blend more ingredients that govern prudent business management.
The initiative facilitated by the Consortium for Enhancing University Responsiveness to Agribusiness Development (CURAD) in partnership with FINAFRICA Institute attracted over 30 enterprises owners.
According to the CURAD managing director, Mr Apollo Segawa, the programme seeks to improve the efficiency in handling enterprise employees, marketing, quality of the product and capturing more value-added products in ways that will increase returns on investments and boost the agricultural sector job market.
“We need to assure agribusiness entrepreneurs of our continued support to ensure their enterprises prosper through modern mentorship, CURAD agribusiness incubation incubates (beneficiaries) should not only use the skills acquired for enriching their enterprises but also create employment and development in their respective communities,” he said.
CURAD founder Joseph Nkandu noted that the programme is already benefitting small private and medium enterprises in terms of deepening understanding of value and marketing dynamics, increasing incomes for the vulnerable youths and women.
Mr Nkandu, who is also the executive director of the National Union of Coffee Agribusinesses and Farm Enterprises aised incubatees to tap into the coffee value chain because coffee is the most traded commodity in the world.

Structuring benefits
One of the participants, Alex Ssebayizzi, who owns a coffee brewing and export firm, Champion Coffee Ltd, based in Ntinda, said after the mentorship he learnt the importance of structuring business.
“I have attended my trainings before but this one has widened my scope and will help me to concentrate on the most rewarding aspects to increase sales,” said Ssebayizzi, who also exports graded coffee berries to United States, South Africa and Australia.
Ssebayizzi joined the mentorship programme after excelling in the CURAD-organised Youth Agribusiness Innovation Challenge in 2013 and 2014.
The training is also part of the follow-up on SME start-ups who participated and excelled in CURAD agribusiness Challenge last year. Some of them had been oriented through CURAD’s Incubation Center, based at the Makerere University Agricultural Research Institution Kabanyolo.
Through competitive process, CURAD offers funding and technical support to incubatees to develop and turn their agribusinesses into profiting making entitles.
He lauded incubatees and Finafrica Institute for successfully completing the mentorship training. He handed over certificates of attendance to each entrepreneur.
Initially, CURAD targeted Makerere University agriculture students and graduates when started in 2009 but it was expanded last year to benefit SME start-ups as well.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor


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