UGANDA – As part of its palladium jubilee celebrations, marking a significant milestone of attaining 75 years of existence, Uganda Breweries Limited, subsidiary of East African Breweries Limited held a panel discussion, chronicling the brewer’s journey over the years since 1946.
What was clear from the start is the fact that UBL has weathered the storms and thrived thanks to its sustainable business model and culture of doing business the right way, from grain to glass, riding on ethics and integrity.
The panellists discussed UBL’s contribution to the growth of Uganda in the last 75 years and highlighted their expectations for the future, with the brewery at the center for the next 75 years.
“We are celebrating our ability to change with the times, our championing of hope, our journey of excellence and resilience. We have made healthy profits, and we have also contributed to the country’s socio-economic transformation,” said UBL Corporate Relations Director, Juliana Kagwa.
Jimmy D. Mugerwa, Non-Executive Director – East African Breweries Limited, revealed that since 1946, the company has made a significant contribution to the socio-economic transformation of Uganda by paying an estimated Ush 7.4 trillion (US$2.1 billion) in taxes to government. Last year alone, UBL paid Ush 420 billion (US$119m) in taxes to Uganda Revenue Authority.
Other than contributing hugely to Uganda’s tax basket, the company has worked with a variety of partners including government agencies, private sector, civil society and the community at large to initiate, fund or support various projects.
Ensuring better income for locals
A few years ago, it launched the Local Raw Materials Program, supporting farmers to grow raw materials used in the manufacturing of beer including sorghum, barley, maize and cassava.
A total of 32000 farmers annually have benefitted from the program benefiting approximately four million households. UBL has invested an estimated Ush 20 billion (US$5.68m) annually in promoting agriculture.
“We provide seeds, technical advice, fertilisers and also link the farmers to financial institutions for financial services. We also buy the produce from farmers at competitive prices,” said Mark Ocitti Ongom, the former UBL Managing Director.
The Managing Director, Alvin Mbugua, said the company’s recent partnerships with government agencies like Operation Wealth Creation and NAADs for growth of raw materials will also assist farmers.
Other than working with farmers a further 22,000 Ugandans are involved in its supply and distribution value chain.
“We are custodian of some of this country’s top talent, which we have exported to countries like the UK, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Tanzania and Kenya. We currently directly employ 270 permanent staff and have over 500 contractors” highlighted UBL.
UBL better’s the society
UBL has further continued to seek to make a real difference in its communities through various Corporate Social Investment programs including; Water for Life Program on which it spends about Ush 4 billion annually to enable over 2 million Ugandans to access clean water.
Being an advocated of environmental conservation, the company through its “Running Out of Trees (ROOTs) Campaign” has seen an estimated 4.7 million trees planted since 2005.
Under its scholarship programme which sponsors disadvantaged students to progress to Tertiary Education, it has an annual expenditure of Ush 1 billion (US$283,000).
Its other flagship programmes include the Red Card Initiative aka DDAD [Don’t drink and drive], which UBL has spent Ush 20 billion (US$5.68m) over the past decade.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Uganda Breweries did not let the government bear the burden alone.
Since 2020, they have made contributions in the form of medical equipment, sanitizers and fuel worth Ush 100 million to the Government (Ministry of Health) and various local communities.
The company has also extended support to bar owners and their employees worth US$1 Million through the Raise the Bar program to support safety practices in over 2,000 outlets (bars and restaurants) in accordance with stipulated SOPs e.g., handwashing kits, masks, temperature reading equipment, Point of Sale materials communicating SOPs and training bar and restaurant staff in SOPs and Health guidelines.
Its product portfolio has grown over the years from its flagship product Bell Lager in 1950, to becoming the biggest alcoholic beverages company with the richest brand portfolio consisting of 10 beer brands, 42 spirit brands, 3 ready to drink brands and 1 non- alcoholic beverage.