Private Sector and UNDP discuss opportunities in refugee settlements and the Songhai Development Model, during a post Uganda Solidarity Summit meeting

Jul 25, 2017

Ms. Yemesrach Workie, UNDP’s Senior Economist makes a presentation on the opportunities for Private Sector in the Refugee hosting areas of Uganda. (Photo Credit: UNDP Uganda 2017)

Kampala - A post Uganda Solidarity Summit conversation on Private sector engagement in refugee hosting districts was has called on members of the private sector to take advantage of the opportunities that come with the having refugees in the country.

The meeting organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) was aimed at making a case for private sector investment in refugee hosting districts.

Uganda has twelve refugee hosting districts mostly which host refugees from South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Burundi among others.

“Refugees offer a 1.3m people strong market for the private sector in these 12 refugee hosting districts in Uganda,” Ms. Yemesrach Workie, the UNDP Senior Economist said while making a presentation on private sector engagements in the refugee hosting districts.

She added that government and development partners were already present in these districts offering social services which left plenty of space for Private sector to go in and provide extra services.

“Opportunities in refugee hosting districts are available in health, education, trade and tourism,” Ms. Workie emphasised.

Refugees come with knowledge and skills that can be used in the countries they are hosted. They also provide a market for good and services.

The Private sector can work with them to innovate new solutions to the situations they are facing in settlements especially since the areas they settle in attract significant infrastructure investment from Government and development partners.

“While still pursuing its bottom line, the private sector has a critical role to play in providing for immediate humanitarian needs, as well as supporting refugees participate in economic development and job creation,” Ms. Workie said.

The United Nations family including UNDP have partnered with the Private sector globally to create jobs – in Jordan for example UN partners with Microsoft to provide jobs for refugees, displaced Iraqis are also able to join the workforce thanks to a partnership between UNDP and Toyota.

“We really have no excuses for taking up these opportunities in the refugee hosting areas. Refugees are also many times people who have been working in their own countries and from whose skills we can benefit from,” Mr. Patrick Bitature, the Chairperson the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) said during the meeting.  

Ms. Almaz Gebru, the UNDP Country Director, informed the participants that UNDP had published investment profiles on the refugee hosting districts highlighting the key sectors for investment. She called on them to make use of them as they prospect for opportunities in those areas.

He added the refugees also need services that the private sector can provide and called on the PSFU members to take advantage of the opportunity to provide these services and support both the Government and Development Partners in their work with refugees and their host communities.

The meeting also introduced the Songhai model to the Private Sector. The model is an integrated system of development that seeks to reduce poverty, unemployment and food insecurity by strengthening the technical and organizational capacities of communities to produce efficiently and sustainably. UNDP together with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development will be piloting the model at the Kampiringisa Model Farm.

“These meetings are intended to provide a platform for networking, sharing knowledge and facilitating learning. This is what UNDP is about and we encourage you to contact us if you would like information on how to take part in these effort,” Ms. Gebru said as the meeting drew to a conclusion.