Launch New Program to Support Young Entrepreneurs Hit by Impact of COVID-19

Funded by the Standard Chartered Foundation, the project is part of “Futuremakers” by Standard Chartered, a global initiative to tackle inequality and it aims to support the reestablishment of 600 young entrepreneurs in Nebbi and Lira districts, whose micro and small businesses were especially hard-hit by government restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Uganda.

Launch New Program to Support Young Entrepreneurs Hit by Impact of COVID-19

Although the typically tight margins of micro, small and medium businesses rendered them more vulnerable to the economic downturn in the aftermath of a COVID-19 lockdown, their crucial role in post-COVID economic recovery cannot be overlooked. The establishment of a diverse range of young entrepreneurs contributes to a richer, more varied and more resilient national economy.

“The market for bananas greatly dropped during COVID-19 lockdown. Instead of selling my bananas at a give-away price, I decided to use them as payments to community members who were available to provide labor on my farm. In this way, my business was beneficial in our village,” Kennedy Okirwoth, Erussi sub county, Nebbi district.

ICCO will provide a holistic package of support to vulnerable MSMEs, including business development and digital marketing skills training, linkages to finance and new markets, as well as mentorship and recovery cash grants to facilitate their efficiency and sustainability.

ICCO is a Dutch international organization with a vision of empowered people that build sustainable livelihoods within a society that upholds their rights. Through interventions that focus on blending finance, climate resilient food systems, new technologies and youth entrepreneurship, we seek to strengthen food and nutrition security and economic empowerment for smallholder farmers and SMEs.

According to Helene Van der Roest, Regional Manager, ICCO Central, Eastern, Southern Africa Office,

“In partnership with YBI, ICCO’s High Flyers program was able to facilitate the transition of over 500 youth start-ups in northern Uganda from micro enterprises to small businesses through targeted mentorship and training. We are excited for the partnership with Standard Chartered Foundation, which will boost the program capacity to further strengthen resilience of young entrepreneurs with critical adjustment skills that can contribute to economic recovery in northern Uganda during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Youth Business International and Standard Chartered Foundation are working together to provide crucial support to over 33,000 underserved young entrepreneurs in six countries across Africa, Asia and Europe. Priority will be given to traditionally disadvantaged business owners who have been particularly affected by the COVID-19 economic crisis, including rural, micro and female entrepreneurs, business owners with disabilities and visual impairments and those excluded from formal financial support. The aim of the programme is to ensure that a diverse range of young entrepreneurs will contribute towards a richer, more varied and more resilient economy for everyone.

Anita Tiessen, CEO of Youth Business International, said:

“As the ongoing effects of the pandemic continue to cripple economies and disrupt normal business operations, young entrepreneurs, especially those running smaller businesses and from underserved communities, have been hardest hit. I’ve been inspired by the response of our network, supporting more than 200,000 businesses through COVID last year. The struggle is far from over for many and I’m delighted that YBI with Standard Chartered Foundation’s new funding will help us expand and continue this crucial work and help more than 33,000 businesses get the support they need to survive and thrive to contribute towards a richer, more varied and resilient economy for everyone.


As of 1st January 2021 ICCO has joined forces with Cordaid and continues as one organization under the name Cordaid.

ICCO’s international website will remain online for the time being and can be visited here or go to Cordaid: