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Refugees to gain land ownership for easy credit access.

Refugees to gain land ownership for easy credit access.

As the Ugandan government aims to foster economic sustainability among refugee communities, it is considering a plan to grant land ownership rights to refugees. This initiative aims to reduce dependence on international humanitarian assistance while opening avenues for refugees to access credit from financial institutions.

At the moment, migrants are given temporary agricultural land plots with no ownership rights. The administration is in talks to create a comprehensive plan that would give refugees more authority over the land that has been allotted to them, in cooperation with foreign agencies.

Speaking at the launch of a digital-based refugee women financing program, State Minister for Trade, Harriet Ntabazi, emphasized the significance of providing refugees with land ownership rights. She highlighted that this move would complement the government’s efforts in building trade and agricultural infrastructure within refugee settlements.

The initiative also saw the partnership between UGAFODE Microfinance and Soko Uganda, an initiative supported by the Uganda Manufacturers Association, Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, and Abercom Uganda Technologies Limited, aimed at facilitating online trading of Ugandan-made products.

State Minister Ntabazi underlined the importance of the refugee sector in technology transfer, which contributes to the economic growth of the host country. With some refugees lacking plans or means to return to their countries of origin, Uganda seeks to integrate them into its development projects.

The Office of the Prime Minister encouraged financial institutions to create initiatives promoting financial inclusion for refugees, particularly through digital platforms. Brenda Wiwo, a community service manager in the refugee directorate at the OPM, expressed concerns about the exclusion of male refugees from the programs. She urged Soko and UGAFODE to extend the project to all refugee settlements.

The partnership between Soko and UGAFODE initially targets settlements such as Nakivale and Kyangwali in Western Uganda. UGAFODE Chief Executive Officer, Shafi Nambobi, revealed plans to expand such initiatives to settlements in other parts of the country within two years.

As part of the partnership, Soko will provide training in business skills and market access to small and micro-entrepreneurs. The beneficiaries will have the opportunity to sell their products through the online platform, covering various categories such as food items, crafts, textiles, and other locally produced goods.

Given the increased importance of digital platforms in business operations, especially in the post-Covid era, this e-commerce partnership aims to empower entrepreneurs financially. Payments for products sold online will be facilitated through the platform, with funds deposited into the beneficiaries’ accounts with UGAFODE.

Nambobi emphasized that UGAFODE extends loans to both refugee and host communities without requiring collateral. Instead, businesses act as a guarantee or security for loan repayment, enabling financial support for those who lack traditional forms of collateral. This innovative approach seeks to uplift refugee communities economically, providing them with sustainable means of livelihood.

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