By Joseph Bahingwire
Gudie Leisure Farm, a social enterprise providing agribusiness development services to youth-owned micro and small enterprises (MSEs) in the agricultural sector, has embarked on an aggressive drive of highlighting investment opportunities in Lango to the public.
Gudie has dedicated the month of April to Lango sub region by organizing the Lango Region Spotlight aimed at sensitizing the country about the investment opportunities in the area, generating support for young entrepreneurs within and from across Uganda that are already investing in it, and celebrating its rich cultural heritage.
The spotlight featured 3 major events including Lango region business symposium that was held on April 1, a cottage industry investment show and dinner on April 2 at Gudie Leisure Farm in Najeera from April 4-7, 2023.
Speaking at the business symposium, Prof Gudula Naiga Basaza, founder and managing director of Gudie Leisure Farm, described the event as an opportunity to put a spotlight on the lango region, an educative a process and an opportunity for potential investors to cease the investment opportunities already in the region.
“In this region spotlight we have a number of events including a business symposium, cottage show showcasing what the young people who were incubated are doing in their communities and the cultural immersion is to encourage people to appreciate the culture of Lango, its food, its art and craft and history through visiting museums,” she said.
Prof Basaza noted that to create significant change in Lango, there is need to attract various investments into the region and called upon the region’s leaders to play the proactive role of exposing and convincing the private sector and other would-be investors that Lango does indeed have the ability to generate for them worthwhile returns if they invested their resources in the region.
“This is why as a private sector actor that is investing especially in its young entrepreneurs, we have embarked on creating investment promotion platforms through which the region’s leaders, youth, business community and government can highlight the commercial opportunities the region offers and also promote Lango’s beautiful culture and people – starting in the central region – Uganda’s major business and trade hub,” she stated.
According to Pro Basaza, Lango region has a population of more than two million people, over 70 per cent youths and with arable land that if properly exploited can feed the world.
Gudie Leisure Farm has so far incubated youths from 41 parishes across the lango region picking six from each parish who were incubated and trained and went back to their communities to implement what they learnt and train other youths in the region.
Currently, over 9600 youths are within their network and working within their value chain and some already have products that they can sell on any market shelf in the world.
“As an incubation center, the Gudie Leisure exposes people to modern farming methods to enable them do agriculture in the most efficient way. This is partly through leasing of agriculture equipment,” she explained.
Teddy Owot Ogong, Dokolo’s Gudie district agent and a business leader from the region, said Lango hosts some of the most talented youth in the country who are eager to become active participants in the socio-economic transformation of Uganda.
“In Dokolo and Amolatar, for example, we have incubated and trained over 400 youth in several market-relevant agribusiness skills since 2021. These young people want to join hands with the Private Sector to exploit the region’s resources for Lango’s communities’ and Uganda’s benefit,” she said.
Daniel Ojambo, an agriculture specialist at the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda, said PSFU is working with Gudie Leisure Farm as they aspire to create jobs for about three million Ugandans in a period of ten years.
“Our model is similar to what Gudie Leisure Farm is doing that aims at harnessing the potential of big companies to make them socially enterprising. We are asking them to open up and allow other people to crowd in using a market systems development where the big company decides to open the sourcing of raw materials from the young people,” he said.
Ojambo noted that PSFU has been moving across the East African Region trying to source for markets for the Ugandan products to expose business people and to make business deals to grow Ugandan businesses across the region.
Felix Okot Ogong, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Dokolo County appreciated Gudie Leisure Farm for the initiative to support young people from Lango region.
Ogong, who has also played a key role in promoting investments in Lango, argued that Lango being a youthful sub region with over 70 per cent of the population being below 35, there is need for harnessing their efforts and ideas to make them more productive.
“We have a lot of investment opportunities especially in the agricultural value chain production that needs to be developed. I think more investment in this sector will help employ many of our youths,” he said.
He said most of the youth are employed in agriculture but have not yet exploited their full potential. He thus called for increased investment in form of advance technology into the sector to improve their youths’ productivity.
Okot noted that changing the mindset of the youth will give them hope and make them empowered to engage in productive agriculture.
The longtime legislator said there are so many investment opportunities in the tourism sector, the financial sector, health services, and education services in Lango region.
Okot appealed to investors to take investments in the region since government has put up favourable infrastructure that can facilitate their business growth.