Initiative to Empower Women in Uganda through Financial Support and Business Training
In a recent survey conducted by various organizations, it was found that achieving gender equality worldwide may take anywhere from 140 to 300 years, with a UN Women-commissioned report indicating a 200-year timeline. This estimation is based on the current level of efforts toward gender parity and the existing challenges in the way.
To address this issue, UN Women (the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) has partnered with Stanbic Bank Uganda in a $15 million (approximately 56.4 billion shillings) initiative aimed at promoting the economic empowerment of Ugandan women.
Dr. Paulina Chiwangu, UN Women’s Country Representative in Uganda, emphasized that when women lag behind, it has broader implications for society and the economy. She highlighted the importance of achieving SDG 5, which focuses on Gender Equality, as it significantly impacts the attainment of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
Over the course of three years, this partnership will enhance the capacity of female entrepreneurs in areas such as financial and business management, value chain marketing, cross-border market access, and affordable credit accessibility.
UN Women, a global agency dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment, has a mission to ensure that every woman and girl can fulfill her potential. Dr. Chiwangu stressed the need for active participation from individuals and groups outside the public sector, including civil society and the private sector, in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
While UN Women has been running programs in Uganda, especially in the northern regions through women’s groups, this partnership aims to expand its reach to benefit over 100,000 women, including women refugees.
Stanbic Bank, through its specialized women’s banking unit known as “Stanbic for Her,” will execute this partnership, with the ultimate goal of contributing to global gender parity in business. The partnership seeks to address key barriers, such as limited access to affordable credit, by providing essential skills and confidence to interact with financial institutions.
Muchae Gladys, Stanbic Bank Uganda’s Country Head for Credit, expressed the bank’s vision to provide financial and non-financial services to unlock the full potential of women-led enterprises. She hopes that UN Women will explore various possibilities for financial inclusion and access to banking services to make funds available to women’s groups, particularly through Village Savings and Loans Associations, and to help women overcome the post-COVID-19 challenges.
Anne Juuko, Stanbic’s Chief Executive Officer, highlighted that limited access to finance remains a significant obstacle to the growth of women-led enterprises, especially in meeting commercial banks’ collateral requirements. To address this, the partnership will focus on building the capacity of women to manage and expand their small businesses.
“Stanbic for Her,” initiated during the pandemic, has already reached 10,000 women and provided 56 billion shillings in loans to date. However, one common challenge faced by many entrepreneurs is business sustainability, with a high rate of businesses failing within the first five years. To address this issue, Juuko emphasized the importance of providing business and financial literacy training to borrowers before extending financial support.