'The Entrepreneur Stories': Ice production for the Ugandan fishing industry

Since 2014, DGGF - Financing Local SMEs has been a driver of improved access to finance for the missing middle in frontier markets and has supported the creation of over 45.358 jobs. Behind this number of jobs created are the stories of inspiring entrepreneurs who, with the trust and support from the DGGF investment funds, have been able to maintain and create jobs, stimulate innovation, and drive inclusive economic growth, even amidst the Covid-19 pandemic. ‘The Entrepreneur Stories’ series shows a glimpse of the business- and daily activities of the DGGF SMEs financed. This time we introduce Norman Batuma, director of Ice Industries Uganda Ltd.

“The Entrepreneur Stories”: Ice production for the Ugandan fishing industry

Flake ice for the Ugandan fishing industry

Ice Industries is a producer of flake ice for the fishing industry and the hospitality sector, the product is mainly used to keep fresh products cold. Ten years ago, Norman noticed that the local fishermen desperately needed ice and saw the potential for larger quantities of ice to be provided to the local fishing communities, at lower prices. The fishing industry is vital for the economy of Uganda as it provides a livelihood for tens of thousands of fishermen and their families and stimulates fish distribution. With an investment from the African Rivers Fund (ARF), Ice Industries was able to replace old machines by brand new ones, built a bigger permanent cooling unit and with that doubled its production and storing capacity. Norman: “It takes patience to build a business”. The future of Ice Industries looks bright as the company is planning on increasing its production level of ice and tap into wider markets.

Men working on ice production for the Ugandan fish industry.

Investing in Africa with XSML

The African Rivers Fund, managed by fund manager XSML, targets growing, well-managed small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the Central & East African region covering Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Uganda, the Republic of Congo and surrounding countries. ARF differentiates itself with its focus on mezzanine financing in combination with hands-on business advisory. The fund is named after the two most powerful rivers in Africa: the Nile and Congo Rivers that embody the potential of the Central- and East African region. In 2016, the African Rivers Fund had its first close and became part of the DGGF investment portfolio. As per Q1 2020, more than 100% of ARF’s capital is invested in 28 portfolio companies, spanning a range of sectors in different countries.