Museveni launches new women entrepreneurship project billed as magic bullet

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Museveni launches new women entrepreneurship project billed as magic bullet
President Museveni launches the project

President Museveni has launched a new women entrepreneurship project that he says, if taken serious, will not only uplift women but also help leverage their ability to tap from other government programmes.

The World Bank-funded Generating Growth Opportunities and Productivity for Women Enterprises Uganda project, that is being promoted locally under the acronym GROW, is designed to increase access to entrepreneurial services that enable female entrepreneurs to grow their enterprises in targeted locations, including host and refugee communities.

The President launched GROW, which by the World Bank and local officials appears is the magic bullet to socioeconomic empowerment of women, in Katakwi District during the International Women’s Day.

The initiative, started on June 17, 2022, and declared effective on January 20, 2023, is poised to drive significant economic transformation by empowering women entrepreneurs across the country.

With a project cost of $217 million (Shs846bn), including $40 million (Shs146bn) earmarked for refugees and host communities, the GROW project is a testament to the government's commitment to fostering inclusive economic growth.

Spearheaded by the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development (MGLSD), with the Private Sector Foundation Uganda as an implementing entity, the project aims to increase access to entrepreneurial services for women-owned enterprises in targeted locations.

According to Dr Ruth Biyinzika Kasolo, deputy national GROW coordinator, the project's development objective is clear, to facilitate access to entrepreneurial services that enable female entrepreneurs to expand their enterprises, with a particular focus on host and refugee districts.

Over 60,000 female-owned enterprises, including 3,000 refugee-owned businesses, are set to benefit from the project, Katakwi inclusive impacting the lives of 280,000 women entrepreneurs and employees, including 42,000 refugees, 14,000 host community members, and 1.6 million indirect beneficiaries.

The project has an extensive awareness campaign design that targets key stakeholders, including Members of Parliament and district leaders, have been successfully conducted across all sub-regions.

Strengthening Women Entrepreneurs Platforms (WEPs) has been prioritized, with the assessment and engagement of 522 such platforms underway.

Access to skills for enterprise development forms a cornerstone of the project's strategy.

Technical and trade-specific skills training, provided by prequalified firms in thirteen districts, will equip women entrepreneurs with the tools needed to thrive in their respective sectors.

The launch of these training activities, scheduled for the second week of March 2024, represents a significant milestone in the project's implementation.

Partnerships with various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) further underscore the government's commitment to supporting women's entrepreneurship.

Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with entities such as the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), and Dairy Development Authority (DDA) aim to enhance the capacity and competitiveness of women entrepreneurs across various sectors.

Access to finance remains a critical component of the project, with initiatives such as business grants competitions and facilitation of credit aimed at enabling women entrepreneurs to expand their businesses.

The announcement of interest rates capped at 10% per annum by his Excellency The President on International Women's Day underscores the government's resolve to address financial barriers faced by women entrepreneurs.

Investments in infrastructure and facilities, including multipurpose service and production centers and common user production facilities, aim to provide women entrepreneurs with the resources needed to scale their businesses.

The construction and equipping of these facilities, scheduled to commence in August 2024, will further enhance the enabling environment for women's entrepreneurship.

As the GROW Project gains momentum, it holds the promise of unlocking the full potential of women entrepreneurs across Uganda. With a firm foundation laid and a clear roadmap ahead, the project represents a beacon of hope for inclusive economic growth and empowerment in the years to come.

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