Ugandan Businesses Join Forces to Foster Gender Equality – The Ankole Times

Ugandan Businesses Join Forces to Foster Gender Equality

Monday, October 9, 2023
The AWE project represents a collective effort to empower women-led businesses, promote gender equality, and drive positive change in the Ugandan business landscape.
Olga Nassaali
4 Min Read

MTN Uganda, along with several corporate partners, is participating in a new program called “Advancing Women Entrepreneurs” (AWE). This initiative aims to provide support to formal enterprises led by women, with the goal of helping them thrive.

The AWE project’s mission is to bring about positive changes in business ownership, diversity, and equality within the supply chain. It seeks to recognize and promote the valuable contributions of women in the growing technology industry.

Several organizations have come together as partners in this endeavor, including MTN Mobile Money (MOMO), The American Tower Corporation (ATC), UN Women, The Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), dfcu Bank, Innovation Village, NSSF Hi Innovators, and Outbox.

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Sylvia Mulinge, CEO of MTN Uganda, expressed the company’s commitment to building a more inclusive and connected society. She highlighted the importance of collaboration and emphasized MTN’s annual theme, “Together, we are Unstoppable.”

Mulinge mentioned a 2019 World Bank study, which showed that women-owned microenterprises in Uganda tend to generate 30% lower profits than their male counterparts. She attributed these disparities to lower levels of innovation, reduced use of capital and labor, and sector-based gender segregation.

Furthermore, women entrepreneurs in Uganda were found to use 41% fewer hours of labor, possess 50% less capital, and be 37% less likely to introduce new products compared to their male counterparts.

The AWE project sets an ambitious yet attainable vision. Mulinge stated, “Our goal is to have 250 women suppliers by 2025, with an initial target of onboarding 50 women by the end of this year.”

To support this project, MTN Uganda will be investing $4 million (Shs15bn).

The collaborative effort involves specific roles for each partner:

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  • MTN and MTN Mobile Money (MOMO) will oversee the expression of interest process, ensure women’s participation, and provide comprehensive training and financial support.
  • American Tower Corporation will create business opportunities and assist in selecting candidates.
  • UN Women will raise awareness and strengthen partnerships.
  • The Private Sector Foundation Uganda, dfcu Bank, and Innovation Village will promote entrepreneurship, offer mentorship, and provide financial support.
  • NSSF Hi Innovators will offer brand support and financing.

In a joint statement dated October 2, the partners expressed their commitment to increasing women’s participation in the telecom supply chain, supporting financial sustainability, and creating a more inclusive marketplace.

Representatives from partner organizations also shared their thoughts on the initiative:

  • Adekemi Ndielli, UN Women Uganda’s deputy country representative, emphasized the importance of empowering women and contributing to Sustainable Development Goal 5.
  • Charles Mudiwa, Managing Director of dfcu Bank Uganda, highlighted their long-standing commitment to supporting women entrepreneurs.
  • Alex Rumanyika, Head of Strategy at NSSF, mentioned their alignment with the AWE initiative to support small businesses.
  • Stephen Asiimwe, CEO of PSFU, expressed optimism about the movement and its potential for positive change.
  • Dorothy Kabagambe Ssemanda, CEO of ATC Uganda, addressed the need to change the narrative surrounding women-owned suppliers in engineering projects.

The AWE project represents a collective effort to empower women-led businesses, promote gender equality, and drive positive change in the Ugandan business landscape.

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Born and raised in the heart of Uganda, Olga developed a deep appreciation for the power of storytelling from a young age. Her curiosity about the world and its myriad complexities led her to pursue a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication, graduating with honors from Makerere University. This was just the beginning of her journey into the world of news publishing.
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