Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) rolled out a $1 million (about Shs3.7 billion) fund that will support a number of programs aimed at facilitating safe re-opening of bars.
According to officials, the program dubbed Raising the Bar – will be implemented by Bell Lager, UBL’s flagship brand -- alongside the Infectious Disease Institute (IDI).
The initiative is being financed under the $100 Million fund that was earmarked by Diageo, the parent company of UBL – to facilitate its affiliates globally to support their local business partners and boost their capacity to reopen their businesses under the respective national guidelines.
Officials say the initiative will facilitate training of people that run happening establishments in areas crucial to the prevention of the spread of the Covid-19.
UBL Managing Director Alvin Mbugua says the Raising the Bar initiative is the Brewery’s effort to work in tandem with the government to support efforts to raise the capacity of bars and enable them to adopt new practices to operate safely.
Bars and other similar establishments were closed in March 2020 to curb the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
Their continued closure has severely impacted the economy and led to loss of jobs and significant decline in revenue.
“Bars are an integral part of Uganda’s socio-economic ecosystem. They provide employment both directly and indirectly, contribute significantly to real estate through rental incomes, contribute to the agricultural sector through sourcing of food supplies and Raw Materials and contribute to trade and several auxiliary services (security, transport etc.),” Mbugua said.
An estimated 1.3 million people formerly employed by this sector are now redundant and estimated revenue loss of Shs2.5 trillion across the value chain is inevitable at the current rate of business operations. Between March and May 2020, according to Mbugua, UBL sourced only 1,500 tonnes of barley from farmers out of an initial projection of 3,500 tonnes.
“We hope that this initiative shows our leadership as Uganda Breweries to the relevant authorities and demonstrate to Government that we are committed to work together in the fight against this pandemic even as we seek for the re-opening of bars,” he said.
The Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Amelia Kyambadde reiterated that Government was cognizant of the adverse impact of continued closure of bars on the economy.
“Our number one priority has been the health and safety of Ugandans, and so far, the government is doing a commendable job on that front giving us good optimism that the conversation on bar reopening should start happening featuring the relevant stakeholders,” she said.