Reflex Eco Group – Uganda News
by Stephen Otage (Local journalist)
The Acumen Fund, an American social impact investment fund, using poverty as an investment product has launched operations in Uganda targeting peasant farmers as beneficiaries.
The fund which is already operating in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Ethiopia, is coming to Uganda with a $367m investment to finance the capital needs of the poor particularly along the agricultural value chain so as to spur growth of enterprises. It is anticipated that the fund will facilitate the production of agricultural in puts, increasing access to health care as well as affordable and renewable energy.
According to Duncan Onyango the fund director for East Africa, the fund is financed by the Melinda & Gates, Rockefller and the Soros family Foundations. He adds that the fund is implementing the aspirations of its funders among which include providing affordable solutions in water and sanitation, education, housing and financial services like agricultural micro-finance to the poor.
In an interview, Mr. Onyango said the fund is already operating in the Northern district of Gulu where it has invested $5million in cotton ginning benefiting 55,000 farmers already.
“We are looking at attracting entrepreneurs who will be game changers by building businesses which are impacting on communities. We also want to attract investors in leadership to change the way communities tackle poverty,” he said.
He added that in Kenya, the fund invested $30m in a seed company producing high yielding hybrid maize that has had an impact on 300,000 farmers, while in Rwanda, the fund has invested in a coffee processing firm while in Ethiopia, the fund has got approval to start poultry and animal feeds production.
He said the overall desire of the fund is to ensure that there are industries along the value-chain.
“We would like to see more investments in agriculture, water and sanitation. We would like to see people who operate toilets as businesses through turning waste into fertilizer, businesses providing clean water solutions for cooking and drinking,” he said.
According to Mr. Onyango, J.P Morgan the leading global financial services firm last year estimated that for the last four years alone, social impact funds as an emerging financial market targeting the rural poor have reached $4bn and close to 300 impact investors have been registered across the world.
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