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Entrepreneurship impact to Ugandan women empowerment

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Added 23rd March 2016 12:16 PM

In many developing countries, SMEs make a particularly large part of the economy, but available data suggest that very few of them grow into larger businesses. About 31 to 38 percent of formal SMEs in developing economies are owned fully or partly by women.

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Rodgers Naijuka is the assistant researcher, Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development

In many developing countries, SMEs make a particularly large part of the economy, but available data suggest that very few of them grow into larger businesses. About 31 to 38 percent of formal SMEs in developing economies are owned fully or partly by women.


By Rodgers Naijuka

In his inaugural Speech in 2008, the US President, Barrack Obama made what became a very famous remark; “The Road ahead will be long, the climb will be steep…..but America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight….that we will get there” The same can be said about the entrepreneurship training for women.

In many developing countries, SMEs make a particularly large part of the economy, but available data suggest that very few of them grow into larger businesses. About 31 to 38 percent of formal SMEs in developing economies are owned fully or partly by women.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are often viewed as potential engines for innovation, employment, and social mobility, and promoted as vehicles for economic growth. Where as in the past the focus for SMEs was on doing business through personalized mentoring, today an element of training in entrepreneurship skills has become very vital.

In Uganda, researchers are evaluating the effect of standardized business skills training on business performance as compared to more personalized mentoring services as at 30th June 2015, the Youth Livelihood programme under Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development has carried out training for 71,866 beneficiaries of whom 3,211 beneficiaries are women. The Ministry is targeting to have more women trained under this programme.

In addition to the Ministry efforts, an international non-profit organization known as Techno Serve is implementing a business training program called Women Mean Business (WMB) in four cities in Central Uganda Kampala, Entebbe, Jinja and Mukono. Since 2008, almost 600 women have received business skills training through the WMB program. A market survey of SMEs in these four cities, conducted by Innovations for Poverty Actions, revealed that approximately 54 percent of all businesses interviewed were owned or managed by women.

However, owners of small businesses - and especially female entrepreneurs - may lack management skills and information about how to access financial services and other resources, limiting their ability to improve and grow their businesses. For example, although women own nearly 40 percent of businesses with registered premises, they obtain only 9 percent of all credit disbursed.

Therefore, the impact has greatly improved in the following areas;

 Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is increasingly providing new opportunities for entrepreneurs to access market information, communicate with customers and provide a new channel for buying and selling products. In particular, the global explosion in mobile technologies in many developing countries has led to increased and more affordable access to ICTs.

There is increasing entrepreneurial awareness and skills among women engaged in small and micro enterprises. Over 3832 women have benefited from the enterprise training workshops conducted by SWEP (Strengthening Women Entrepreneurs Project).

The majority of these (90%) are rural women – whose access to such services has previously been hindered by various factors including the unavailability of such services; high costs; limited mobility; low literacy levels and time constraints that disproportionately affect these women.

Entrepreneur Trainings have equipped women with skills to grow and develop their enterprises. Many of the urban women entrepreneurs have adopted a more professional approach in the management of their enterprises including the institution of proper financial, human resource and quality management systems.

Increased access to market opportunities while at the same time showcasing their potential. Some of the groups met reported that these events have improved their understanding of the market requirements; and they have as a result, taken the necessary steps to improve and/or diversify their products.

However, Lack of finance is a major constraint to the growth of female-owned enterprises Access to finance is often cited as a main constraint to the growth of female-owned enterprises.

Furthermore, Legal constraints in the area of family law and inheritance can determine a women’s ability to own property and access collateral for financing. The institutional and legal environment is critical to the growth of female-owned enterprises. Laws regulating the private sphere specifically those regarding marriage, inheritance and land can hinder women's access to assets, which can be used as collateral when securing a loan.

Finally, The Government of Uganda through Ministry of Gender Labour and social Development has initiated Uganda women entrepreneurship Programme to strengthen capacity of women through entrepreneurship programme. It is estimated that over 10,000 women in the whole country will be provided with adequate entrepreneurship capacity and skills.

In addition, UWEP is also in conformity with the regional and global obligations on gender equality and women’s empowerment that Uganda is party to. These include the East African Community Treaty (EAC, 2000), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) calls upon member states to establish Women Fund Programmes where do not exist.

Like Peter Drucker said “Entrepreneurship is neither a science nor an art. It is a practice.” Once the women of Uganda embrace it as a practice, they will surely get there.

The writer is the assistant researcher, Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development

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