Uganda Development Bank Limited (UDB) in partnership with the ResilientAfrica Network (RAN Lab) announced the UDB i-Growth Accelerator 2017 edition that will focus on supporting commercialization of local start-ups and stimulating a culture of innovation in Uganda so as to contribute to the country’s social economic development.

The i-Growth Accelerator program is an annual initiative that will support individuals to grow and expand their start-up enterprises in all sectors.

For the 2017 edition, the accelerator was focusing on the Agriculture and Manufacturing sectors under the theme; ‘Towards a Smart and Sustainable Agricultural and Manufacturing Sector’.

The Exhibition and final award that took place on 28th, February 2018 at Hotel Africana saw 8 startups emerge victorious and will accelerated from March till June this year.

The selected startups are Gudie Leisure Farm that manufactures Orgapesticide, who were the overall winners, walking away with 7,000 USD (UGX 25 million), Hybrid Hey Machine, makers of a machine that cuts and stores animal hey for as long as nine months, emerged second walking away with USD 2800 (UGX10 million) and Ecosmart Pads who emerged third winning USD 1400 (UGX 5 million). Additional five winners each walked away with Shs I million.

One of the Judges, Anja de Feijter, Executive Director of Agribusiness Support Center (ADC), said

It is apparent that government and all stakeholders pay keen attention to agriculture because of its vital contribution to the country’s social economic development. Adding that ADC’s new agenda is to support smart solutions of making farmers bankable and self-sufficient.

State Minister for Finance, Gabriel Ajedra, called on Youth to embrace agriculture and focus on innovation if the country’s main source of employment is to develop, The Observer reports.

He added that as government, they will continue supporting such innovations by providing funding. He further hailed UDB for looking out to such innovators and giving them financial assistance and also loans at lower interest rates of 12 percent as opposed to the more than 20 per cent that commercial banks give.