Uganda Breweries Limited (UBL) has announced a partnership with the Infectious Disease Institute (IDI) to launch “The Raising the Bar” program which will support bars to re-open safely and rebuild customer confidence once government allows them to resume operations.
According to officials, the raising the bar program is adapted from UBL mother company Diageo’s $100 million raising the bar program that seeks to facilitate the affiliates globally to support their local business partners and boost their capacity to reopen their businesses under the respective national guidelines.
In Uganda, this program is being facilitated under the Uganda Breweries flagship brand of Bell Lager which will inject a $1 million(shs3.6billion) fund towards the logistical and physical requirements of the program.
The program has been developed in partnership with the Infectious Disease Institute, which among other things, will be the driver to provide awareness training for bars, recreational facilities and similar establishment personnel in the requisite knowledge, social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures that are important in the prevention of COVID-19 transmission in establishments that carry Uganda Breweries Products.
Speaking at the event to demonstrate preparedness of the brewery to support the bar reopening, UBL Managing Director Alvin Mbugua said that as a business, they applaud and support government’s preparedness and response efforts to COVID-19, noting that the new program is aimed at ensuring bars adhere to standard operating procedures.
“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. However, Covid adversely impacted the different players within our value chain including farmers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and bartenders. This program will help them safely return to business once government allows,”Mbugua said.
According to the UBL Managing Director, it is estimated that over 1.3 million people employed by the sector are now redundant and an estimated revenue loss of shs2.5 trillion has been occasioned across the value chain.
“Between March and May 2020, UBL sourced only 1,500 tonnes of barley from farmers out of an initial projection of 3,500 tonnes) and a lot more real and unrealized revenue across our value chain. 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,”Mbugua said.
Speaking at the same function, Trade Minister, Amelia Kyambadde reiterated that government is cognizant of the adverse effects that closure of bars has had on the livelihoods of the population and government through reduced taxes.
“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,”Kyambadde said.
The minister noted that the initiative by UBL will ensure that bar businesses in Uganda benefit from international best practices in the management of their operations during the pandemic but will also ensure they keep their customers and staff safe.
“I will endeavour, in my capacity as the chairperson of the Trade and Transport Committee of the COVID-19 Taskforce to engage my colleagues to deliberate upon the possibility of reopening the bars now that we are assured of the strict adherence of SOPs.”
Under the initiative, the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), a leader in health systems will deliver health training and capacity building support tailored to the existing realities to the outlets.
The Infectious Disease Institute will also undertake to carry out a needs assessment and propose a suitable training or capacity building program to meet the needs identified but also develop appropriate messaging content for regular public communications for UBL to disseminate to bars, recreational facilities and similar establishments across the country.