UGANDA, Kampala | Real Muloodi News | Uganda Development Bank (UDB) will help 2 million women entrepreneurs access finance at more affordable rates than those currently available. This comes as a response to complaints that women entrepreneurs often have a more challenging time accessing funding to grow their businesses. It is especially true for small-scale operators who say that previous government packages excluded them.
Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) have previously criticised UDB for setting loan terms that are financially challenging for many Ugandan entrepreneurs to meet, such as a minimum loan portfolio of USh100m, at least 2 years of books of accounts, and registration with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau.
In collaboration with Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Ltd (UWEAL), UDB will offer 50 to 100 million loans to women entrepreneurs. This money is to be broken down into smaller packages and redistributed to 2 million women.
Barbara Ofwono, the chairperson of UWEAL, says their interest rates are between ten and twelve per cent, which is much lower than the rates offered by banks and microfinance, which can exceed twenty per cent.
Ofwono says, “So we have agreed with UDB and they will finance 2 million women and we’re now preparing the women.” “There’s going to be an economic boom because 2 million women getting funding to revamp and grow their businesses is a great thing economically.”
Ofwono also said that currently, their major problem was that many Ugandan women entrepreneurs are not registered. However, UWEAL has 65 registered groups, as such they will be the starting point when giving out the loans. But other cooperative societies shall also be included.
According to Connie Kakihembo, UWEAL Chief Executive, UWEAL is registering all Ugandan women entrepreneurs for proper planning and advocacy.
She said, “We are reaching out to all women entrepreneurs through the help of their leaders, to know what they are doing and where. So this is part of the profiling. It’s an ongoing exercise.”
Women business leaders have earmarked this month as the month of the woman entrepreneur. Their theme is “Against All Odds for Women Entrepreneurs.”
They hope to tackle issues like access to markets, finances, government opportunities, and services, like participating in public procurement and paying taxes.
Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) acknowledged its systems are disadvantageous to women taxpayers. Innovations like TIN registration and other URA online portals are not user friendly and have created more problems for users.
Irene Mbabazi Irumba, Assistant Commissioner Research and Innovation at URA, says they are making their systems more user friendly. She also advised that women adopt digital technologies, like invoicing, using the EFRIS system, which she affirms is easy to use and would solve many record-keeping issues.
The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA) revealed that women account for less than one per cent of the procurement market in Uganda. And it has to be corrected.
Sheila Nakiwala, the head of advisory services at PPDA, says, “there are many opportunities, but the women lack information on how and where to find these opportunities. Because they’re always in the papers and now, they’re on our website. So, we’re training them on where and how to get the information, but also how to prepare and file a winning bid.”
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