The money will be provided in the 2016/17 budget.
Thousands of Uganda women will benefit from a sh53b which government has earmarked to be allocated to poor women to start income generating activities.
According to Pius Bigirimana, the permanent secretary ministry of gender, labour, and social development, the money will be provided in the 2016/17 budget.
Although sh3b was for the first time allocated to the Women’s Enterprise Fund in the current financial year, comprehensive implementation of the project will start in the 2016/17 financial year.
The project is also contained in the 2016-2021 NRM manifesto as one of the game changer projects which will improve the social-economic welfare of Ugandans.
“The overall goal of the Programme is to empower Ugandan women to improve their income levels by providing affordable credit and support access to other financial services to enable women establish and grow their business enterprises,” Bigirimana explained.
Asked whether interest will be charged on the money that will be given to the groups of women, Bigirimana said, “The Women Enterprise Fund will be administered as an interest-free revolving fund. Groups that will repay the revolving fund within the first 12 months of receiving the fund will pay only the Principal without interest. Any repayments that go beyond 12 months shall attract a service fee of 5% per annum to cater for the costs of inflation.”
“Women councils at all levels will be involved in the process of identifying groups for funding. All women irrespective of their political affiliations will be free to access the money,” Bigirimana explained.
The Ministry has benchmarked the Kenya Women Enterprise Fund which also uses a group approach and the revolving fund mechanism as a sustainability strategy of the Programme. According to available information, these have proved effective in terms of covering more women in a short term.
Regarding the breakdown of how the money will be utilized, the accounting officer said out of the sh53b for the project, 70% will directly go to women groups and 30% will go towards institutional support, skills and capacity development.
Women will be required to form groups with a minimum of 10 members and a maximum of 15 members to access funding for their joint businesses.
As the case is for the youth livelihood fund, there will be a sub county committee which will receive proposals for businesses to be funded after which a technical committee at the district level will approve which projects should be funded.
On the eligible beneficiaries, the assistant commissioner for gender Maggie Kyomukama said unemployed women, child mothers, single mothers, widows, women with disabilities, women living with HIV/AIDS, slum dwellers, and women heading households will be given priority.
Justifying the fund, Jane Mpagi, the director gender and community development said only 13.8% of working women are in formal employment compared to 29.9% of working men.
“The unemployment rate of women increased from 2.2% in 2005/2006 to 4.5% in 2009/2010. Women receive an averagely lower pay than men in the private sector with a male to female gap standing at 39%,” she explained.