Uganda gets over Shs800bn to empower women in business

Uganda gets over Shs800bn to empower women in business

By Andrew Cohen Amvesi

ARUA. The government of Uganda has received a US Dollars 217 million grant (about Shs836.9bn) from the World Bank to implement a five-year project aimed at empowering women in business.

Some-of-the-women-who-turned-up-for-the-meeting-at-Muni-University-on-Wednesday.-Photo-by-Andrew-Cohen-Amvesi.

The project dubbed ‘generating growth opportunities and productivity for women enterprises (GROW) project in Uganda’ will be implemented by different partners through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

According to Geoffrey Kayongo, the Social Development Specialist for the GROW project, of the USD217M, USD40M (about Shs154.3bn) will specifically go to the refugees and their host communities.

Geoffrey-Kayongo-speaking-to-journalists-shortly-after-the-sensitization-meeting-at-Muni-University.-Photo-by-Andrew-Cohen-Amvesi

He said the project is looking at enhancing the enterprises of women entrepreneurs across the country.

“Of course, we are looking at enhancing micro enterprises to transition to small and then helping the small to transition to the medium enterprises. The project is looking to benefit over 30,000 women enterprises and the total number of beneficiaries that are expected to benefit is 1.6 million in the whole country,” Kayongo said during a sensitization meeting organized by the ministry for some selected women entrepreneurs in the West Nile sub-region at Muni University on Wednesday.

“The project has four components. The first component in short is all about providing support; sensitizing the women about the project, offering them training on the enterprises that they want to enhance. After this first component, then we get into the second component that now helps them to access the finance. After the access to finance, then we have that component that now deals with the establishment of the structures that will ensure that what has been provided to these women is sustainable and the fourth component is all about management,” Kayongo explained.

A-woman-stresses-a-point-on-the-project-before-Minister-Kwiyucwiny-at-Muni-University-on-Wednesday.-Photo-by-Andrew-Cohen-Amvesi

He said for now, they are still in the first component of the GROW project which is based on the principles of equity, transparency and impact sustainability.

Kayongo noted that the money is going to be channeled through banks and it will be accessed by the beneficiaries at a small interest rate of less than 10 percent.

Speaking during the function, Mary Afoyowroth, a businesswoman from Pakwach district appreciated the government of Uganda for bringing the GROW project which she said will help the women to grow their businesses.

Afoyowroth, a graduate of Information Systems intends to access the money and invest it in expanding her Internet Café into an IT skills training center in Pakwach town.

Similarly, Hon. Dr. Betty Odongo, the former Nebbi district woman MP commended the government for always thinking of empowering the women in the country.

“First of all, when you empower a woman, you empower a community because once a woman has money in her hands, you will know very well that the children are going to be taken care of their education, their health, their nutrition and even some women these days are looking at decent housing for their families. So, once you empower such a woman, you will know that the community is empowered,” Odongo said.

She, however, observed that the challenge is, there is so much money that they say is for women groups or women entrepreneurs but when it comes to the criteria, they are so stringent for women to access the money.

While presiding over the function, Grace Freedom Kwiyucwiny, the state minister for Northern Uganda acknowledged that they have heard those challenges where women have found it very difficult to access loans as capital.

But she assured the public that the GROW project is going to be an opportunity that women will now be reached at the grassroots.

“So, what is taking place now is an induction and introduction of this program to the women entrepreneurs themselves. This is the first time this program is meeting them and this is the first time they are also expressing their views about it. I want to appreciate them because they have raised pertinent issues including what group is going to benefit, including what percentage of interest rate including a number of challenges they have brought up and so, I appreciate them and I’m happy that the Assistant Commissioner has taken note of the issues being raised,” Kwiyucwiny said.

“I really appeal to our local leaders not to relent in mobilization and I also appeal to the beneficiaries to ensure that they use the funds for the right purposes. One of the reasons why we fail is we apply for something and we use the funds for something else. Automatically, that is a failure. I really want to appeal to our people to get the resources that are going to be given to us and let us use it for the right purposes,” Kwiyucwiny advised.

Reports indicate that Uganda has the highest number of women in business-entrepreneurship in Africa and that is between 24 to 44 percent of all businesses.

However, many of these enterprises are in micro and small, and most of them don’t grow to the transition from micro to small or small to medium, a reason the GROW project has come to address the challenge.

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