TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has launched a Fund worth USD 7.6 million to support businesses with innovative projects that work towards enhancing the transport and logistics sector in East Africa.
This is the second edition of the Fund dubbed the Logistics Innovation for Trade Challenge Fund (LIFT).
It has funded nine projects to the tune of USD 10.9 million since it’s inception. Four were from Kenya, three from Uganda and two from Tanzania. None was from Rwanda.
According to Anataria Karimba from TMEA-Rwanda, this is a chance for private businesses to get financing for their ideas that will reduce transport costs and boost trade in the region.
“This is an opportunity that all private sector firms should jump at. All it requires is innovative ideas that can facilitate lower costs in transport and logistics,” added Karimba.
The LIFT Fund aims to reduce investment risk in transformative technologies that will make a difference to the region’s trade and logistics efficiency. To benefit from the Fund, companies in logistics are required to submit their proposals with each successful project legible for grants between $150,000 and $1 million.
The companies will also be required to match at least 50 per cent of project value.
“I think one of the biggest challenges is the lack of awareness that such funds exist. This is someone putting in money to de-risk your business. The private sector in Rwanda is yet to understand that such facilities exist,” Karimba said.
David Mitchell, LIFT Fund manager, said: “It’s an open invitation for entrepreneurs here to say, ‘I’ve got a project. Can I work in partnership with people, to develop that project so that it becomes more competitive?’”
William Mwiseneza, the operations manager at Spedag one of the largest logistics companies in Rwanda said that it was high time local entrepreneurs and businesses to jump on such opportunities.
“We need to be more proactive because we are a landlocked country. We need to look at 10 years to come. Kenya and Uganda are going crazy about these projects because they know that logistics is the future,” he added.