Stanbic, UN Women commit to supporting more female-owned businesses in Uganda

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Stanbic, UN Women commit to supporting more female-owned businesses in Uganda
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As the world continues to celebrate the international women’s month, Stanbic Bank Uganda has re-echoed its commitment in supporting and empowering women led groups.

This call was made  during the annual Ring the Bell for gender equality conference at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala.

The international women’s theme for 2024 is: “Invest in women; Accelerate progress.”

Cathy Adengo the bank’s head of sustainability said as a signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), Stanbic ranks high in elevating women across board.

The key WEP principles include promote gender equality throughout the workforce; introduce gender equality standards and supporting gender-equality themed investment products.

Accelerate the pace at which women ascend to corporate board and senior leadership positions and provide guidance, training, mentoring, and education to market participants on gender equality and the role of gender diversity in business performance.

“These WEP principles speak directly to our purpose as Stanbic which is Uganda is our home, we drive her growth. We believe that by implementing the above principles we will not only create greater opportunities for women across our organization, but also further other efforts to promote gender equality across the private sector,” Adengo said.

Adengo said Stanbic has initiatives that include Stanbic4Her, the Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA), and the Ignite Women’s Leadership Programme that are all geared towards helping women realise their full potential.

“Our Stanbic4Her initiative was designed to remove the critical barriers to affordable credit and provide critical tools to grow women’s businesses in Uganda. To date, we have over 6,580 female customers and have extended over shs 98 billion worth of loans to support the growth of women in business. These loans are subsidized to make them more affordable and accessible for women,” she said.

Adengo said Stanbic Bank also provides free financial literacy and capacity development for women owned businesses, delivered through the Stanbic Business Incubator. This involves training sessions that empower them with competitive abilities to succeed in a world of business.

Working together with the UN Women office in Uganda, Adengo also highlighted how the bank is exploring several possibilities under financial inclusion and access to banking services, to make the funds for women groups, through their various Village Savings and Loans Association (VSLA) safe.

“Stanbic also has the Ignite women’s leadership programme. This is a women’s leadership development programme that focuses on empowering and growing women within the organisation. The training has positively impacted over 400 women across the organisation. With over 1,500 employees, 50% are women and 250 women hold managerial positions,” Adengo said.

Paulina Chiwangu, the UN Women Country Representative hailed companies like Stanbic that have continued to empower women at different levels.

She said, the Ringing the Bell by Exchanges around the world, sends a powerful message to the global community, that gender equality is not just a distant aspiration, but a fundamental human right and a driver for development and prosperity for all.

“I have continuously told people everywhere I go, that we cannot achieve the Sustainable Development Goals if gender equality is not given priority. If you analyse all the 17 SDGs, you will realize most of them are directly attached to gender equality.”

Chiwangu noted that what was witnessed today is a symbolic testament of the power of coming together to promote gender equality. Financing gender equality is a prerequisite for achieving Agenda 2030.

Josephine Okudi Ossiya, CEO Uganda Capital Markets Authority said ringing the Bell for Gender Equality provides an opportunity to harness the power of diversity to achieve gender equality.

The event is a joint global initiative among UN Global Compact, UN Women, Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, International Finance Corporation: IFC, World Federation of Exchanges and Women in ETFs.

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