The Government through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development has disbursed Shs421m to help women initiate various commercial ventures under the new Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP).
According to the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Pius Bigirimana, the funds will benefit a total of 94 Women Groups in the districts of Otuke, Kamuli, Kisoro, Nakasongola, Kiruhura, Kaliro and Mayuge.
Otuke got Shs 67.1 million for 8 women groups, Kamuli has Shs 60.5 million for 15 women groups, Kisoro got Shs 70.9 million for 21 groups, Nakasongola received Shs 45.8 million for 19 groups, Kiruhura Shs 68.5 million for 9 women groups, Mayuge got Shs 56.8 million for 14 groups and Kaliro got Shs 51 million for 8 women groups.
Kaliro in particular will receive an extra Shs 30 million to bring their total allocation to Shs 81 million.
“The beneficiary groups are composed of 10-15 members, and for the money sent out so far, there is a total of 1,222 women beneficiaries. It should however be noted that the seven districts that have received funding are part of the nine slated to get funds under the first schedule of disbarment.” Bigirimana said.
The other districts awaiting funding include; Kampala City Council Authority, which was approved to receive Shs 127 million and Wakiso with Shs 211 million.
Districts under the second schedule of disbursement includes; Kalangala, Ntungamo, Bundibugyo, Kayunga and Nebbi. Their fund allocations are yet to be approved.
Files for Koboko, Kitgum and Kibaale are still being reviewed meanwhile the three districts of Moroto, Kole and Katakwi are yet to submit files for funding.
The Permanent Secretary emphasized that the money is to be used by the respective groups to run businesses of their choice; make profit and payback for the benefit of other women in the same districts. He explained that repayments made within the first twelve months (one year) will not carry any interest while repayments made after 12 months will attract a service fee of 5% per annum. The service fee is only incorporated to cater for inflation.
UWEP was initially pronounced by President Yoweri Museveni during last year’s commemoration of the International Women’s Day in Kabale District. Cabinet went ahead to approve the Programme on 3rd February, 2016 before a national launch was done through a Press Conference that was held at the Media Center on 10th February, 2016 by the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.
The Programme is an exceptional Government initiative established with the ultimate aim of helping women gain access to interest-free credit while equipping them with skills for enterprise growth, value addition and marketing of their products and services.
The National Programme Coordinator, Brenda Kifuko Malinga, said the programme is envisaged to increase participation of women in business development, increase their incomes, livelihood security and overall quality of life.
“Through this initiative, the Ugandan woman’s aggregate contribution to national economic development is predicted to grow as they engage in various commercial ventures.” She noted.
She added that UWEP is consistent with national planning frameworks including Uganda Vision 2040 which emphasizes reduction of gender inequality as a prerequisite for accelerating and sustaining social economic transformation. Furthermore, UWEP is in conformity with the regional and global obligations on gender equality and women’s empowerment that Uganda is party to.
Initially implemented in the districts of Wakiso, Koboko, Kitgum, Kisoro, Bundibugyo, Kiruhura, Kaliro, Kamuli, Moroto, Katakwi, Mayuge, Nakasongola, Kalangala, Ntungamo, Otuke, Kole, Kibaale, Kayunga and Nebbi, the Programme has been rolled out to cover all districts and municipalities this Financial Year 2016/2017.
The primary target beneficiaries of the Programme are women within the age bracket of 18-65 years and much emphasis is placed on integrating the most vulnerable categories of women including; Unemployed women, vulnerable Groups e.g. Single young mothers, Widows and Gender-based Violence (GBV) survivors, Women with Disabilities, Women living with HIV/AIDS, Women heading households, Women slum dwellers and Women living in hard to reach areas and ethnic minorities.
The Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) is a Government of Uganda fully-funded project running on a revolving basis under the administration of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development. From 20 districts last Financial Year, the programme is now covering the entire 115 District Local Governments, Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) and 41 Municipalities this Financial Year (2016-2017).
How women access the money
Women form groups of 10-15
They access the Expression of Interest forms from the Sub County or Division within their locality
No physical assets/collateral required
Accessible to both existing and new groups,
Formal registration of groups not a pre-condition for access (but encouraged after access of funds as part of enterprise sustainability).
The programme is implemented through Government structures. The Community Development Officers at Sub Counties and Divisions are the programme Focal Persons.