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This case study explores the growing and diversifying mass media industry and its interaction with rural entrepreneurs in Uganda. It tracks the establishment of business-focused radio programmes initiated by a small enterprise development company, FIT Uganda, and explores the development of information channels representing rural entrepreneur needs. Through a 'Making Markets Work for the Poor' (M4P) approach, the case study documents the underlying constraints on communication that exist within poor communities. It also explains how development implementers might encourage crowding-in and improve the quality and impact of small business programming at local and national levels, through the use of radio.
FIT Uganda’s intervention proved that a developmental media service targeting the poor was commercially viable. The following activities ensured that significant market system change was achieved.
- The Ugandan radio industry saw growth of small business programming. The majority of programmes started without direct donor input.
- Small business programmes are capturing significant market share. Commercial companies are showing growing interest in reaching the small business audience, and advertisers are reaching a traditionally difficult segment of the market.
- The radio programmes have enhanced the voice of rural business at local and national level. The programmes have stimulated policy, legal and regulatory change.
The intervention seeks to address the absence of effective and diverse business information serving the poor. Rural entrepreneurs function in a challenging business environment and lack the basic information to make informed decisions. The intervention challenges these constraints through improving the availability of information to rural entrepreneurs.
- The case study makes use of qualitative research methodologies to address FIT Uganda’s experiences in promoting a commercial service industry that seeks to enhance the voice of rural entrepreneurs.
The case study offers a perspective on the potential impact that improved communication services can have on agricultural production. It is useful for anyone interested in the role played by the media, specifically radio, in Uganda, and its developing agricultural sector. This might include communications specialists, but also development practitioners and researchers.