World Bank to initiate Shs900bn women entrepreneurs project

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World Bank to initiate Shs900bn women entrepreneurs project
Women entrepreneurs are set to be tooled courtesy of a bumper World Bank funding support

The World Bank is stepping in to facilitate women entrepreneurs to help them advance their business growth.

According to the Private Sector Foundation (PSFU), the $217 million (about Shs900 billion) five-year GROW Project will among other things skill women in business before advancing them grants and credit after a screening.

PSFU, local governments, and post-secondary educational institutions are among the other implementing agencies and partners involved in the project, which will be carried out under the auspices of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD).

Other implementing agencies include, the Uganda Industrial Research Institute, Directorate of Industrial Training (DIT) and any other whose services may be deemed relevant.

Makerere University Business School has already been contracted to draw training modules for the different categories of women-owned enterprises.

Currently, the ministry is undertaking training of district labour officers and community development officers as focal points at the local levels.

Speaking at the training for officers from central Uganda on Friday, State Minister for Gender and Culture Peace Mutuzo said the project would help women also venture into the currently male dominated business sectors like tourism, manufacturing and processing.

“Women brought out their resilience and hold the bull by the horns to get themselves out of poverty," Mutuzo said.

"Cultural practices that held back women from earning-work confining them to home chores have to be challenged.’’

This is partly the centre of work for the focal-point local government officers to ensure mindset change. She challenged them to take the message to funerals and places of worship to get the message to the communities.

"Negotiations with banking institutions that are going to be used to disburse the loans and grants are on to ensure that the funds are not disbursed at the current high commercial rate. Interest on project loans should not be higher than 10 percent as this would run counter to the project objective,’’ Mutuzo noted.

The social development specialist for the GROW project, Mr Geoffrey Kayongo, denied that the project excluded men.

“Men are one way or another beneficiaries. For example, here we are and I am employed by the project," Mr Kayongo said.

"Another example, if a wife got a loan and uses this loan to expand her business that is more income in the home. You can’t say the husband is not benefitting.

"There would be a lot of subcontracting in the execution of the project, and much of this would go to institutions where men are either employees, managers or entrepreneurs.

Joel Acana, a programme officer at the MGLSD and a training facilitator, explained to the participants that firms were divided into different categories based on their size.

Micro-enterprises were defined as those with five employees or fewer and a capital of Shs10 million.

‘’Those with Shs11 million to Shs50 million and six to 50 employees are classified as small scale enterprises while those with capitalization of above UGX50million but not more than UGX100million are Medium scale enterprises,’’ Acana explained.

‘’Those with common businesses but running impressively will be in position to get loans, while grants will be extended to only those with “unique” enterprises and amount up to a maximum of Shs200 million will be extended depending on the category one’s enterprise falls in.’’

According to officials, six thousand businesses are the focus of the GROW project, which is anticipated to have four regional skills centers and common user facilities (in place by December 2027 in order to further project objectives.

It is assumed that a revolving fund would have been created as well for sustainability.

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