Notable institutions that were present included the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) and Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) representing Government, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) United States Agency for International Development (USAID) represented by the Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), World Bank and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as part of the development partners as well as Ntasa Manufacturers & Investment Limited, KAD Africa and KK Foods which are private sector actors who have worked with refugees. Non-government organizations present included Swisscontact, World Vision, and Save the Children among others.
The engagement included a panel discussion on ongoing and upcoming interventions, policies and strategies that promote private sector engagement during which government representatives from MGLSD committed to enabling access to finance especially for women through the Generating Growth Opportunities for Women (GROW) project that aims at supporting female-owned enterprise growth and transition, improving demand-driven enabling infrastructure and facilities for enterprise growth and transition.
The Swisscontact Country Director, Pavlos Troulis, asserted that mindset change among refugees, private sector, Government, development and humanitarian needs to be emphasised to enable the populace in the refugee hosting districts transition from being passive beneficiaries to active project participants with the knowledge, skills, attitude, and capacity that the private sector can work with. He further noted that there is an increasing need for development partners to fund research aimed at capturing market relevant data since this helps to estimate the demand and supply dynamics around various value-chains and helps craft pathways for investment into the refugee hosting communities.
Benjamin Prinz, the Director and Operations Manager of Asili Farms Masindi, asserted that subsidies especially for initial costs such as customer acquisition are relevant when venturing into these communities. He further emphasized that all relevant stakeholders in the refugee space should work in a way that leverages each partner’s knowledge and experience for the betterment of the eco-system It is noteworthy that there was a common appeal for technical education to progress to the needs of the private sector.
In conclusion, Government entities and development organizations committed to fostering increased private sector engagement by improving infrastructure, offering subsidies, and skilling of refugees since these are the most pertinent aspects emphasized by private sector actors.