Young agripreneurs in northern Uganda face many crucial challenges: few loans are available, most charge enormous interest and require collateral that few agripreneurs have. Agripreneurs are often viewed as risky by creditors and rural Micro Finance Institution staff show a low level of digital literacy. With most youth in the informal sector (90.9%), entrepreneurship/self- employment is critical. Few programmes here focus on access to finance, and even fewer support Micro Finance Institutions (MFIs). Less than 20% can access credit in East Africa, and for agripreneurs in Uganda it is even more difficult. 

Nevertheless, many initiatives only provide skills training but do not focus on access to finance for investment in agribusinesses. We do not know any other organisation in Uganda that works closely with MFIs to help them make affordable agricultural loans available and accessible for (young) agripreneurs. 

We propose to work with RUFI (Rural Finance Initiative) to solve this problem by linking high-potential youth farmers with an MFI to access a newly developed agricultural loan with a low interest rate. RUFI has already signed an MOU to pilot this with ICCO, combined with a pilot of the digital Agricultural Credit Assessment Tool (A-CAT) developed and tested by ICCO.  

The credit assessment tool tracks the costs of agricultural performance and revenue, enabling smart decisions about the loan amount, minimising risks for both agripreneurs and MFIs. The A-CAT uses (continuously updated) information on inputs, prices, market information, agronomics, weather, etc. for the assessment.

The programme will train RUFI loan officers on the tool and support them during its use. A manual A-CAT will be implemented first, to help loan officers learn until the entire process is automated, before the digital version is customised to the MFI and context. Once proven, the system can easily be translated into other geographies, laws and languages for use with young agripreneurs everywhere, including the 35 countries where ICCO now works.

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