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STATEMENT

BY

MR. PIUS BIGIRIMANA

PERMANENT SECRETARY

MINISTRY OF GENDER, LABOUR AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

DURING

A PRESS CONFERENCE ON THE APPROVED CABINET PERFORMANCE


MEASURES FOR THE

UGANDA WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP PROGRAMME (UWEP).

UGANDA MEDIA CENTRE, KAMPALA


9TH APRIL, 2019
The Executive Director, Uganda Media Centre,
The team from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, and,
Gallant Members of the Press,

The Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) is a revolving fund


initiated by the Government of Uganda with the main objective of increasing women
access to affordable credit.
This is intended to enhance financial inclusion, promote entrepreneurship
development and effective participation of women in the economic development of
the country.
The Programme started off in was initiated in 19 Local Governments plus KCCA in
the 2015/2016 Financial Year and starting Financial Year 2016/17 it was rolled out
to all Local Governments in the Country.
The Ministry of Gender, Labour and social Development was handed the mantle to
implement the Programme and it’s my pleasure to report to you that the Women
Entrepreneurship Fund has been a great success so far1.
Currently in its fourth year of implementation, the Programme has received Shs
85,483,476,837, representing only 14.6% of the overall approved budget of Shs.
585,000,000,000.
So far, 9,381 women projects have been financed, directly benefitting 117,551
women.
In its creation, UWEP was intended to address the challenge women face in
accessing credit from the formal financial institutions like Commercial banks.
The banks still regard women to be uncrediworthy because they lack collateral
among other improbable reasons.
UWEP has demystified this and shown that women are actually credible debtors than
any other demographic.
For example, to-date, we have recovered Shs7, 069,684,946 out of the Shs
8,710,321,031 that is due for repayment. That represents an 80.1% repayment rate.
If indeed women were not creditworthy they couldn’t have had such impressive
recoveries.
And remember that our credit is unsecured. We don’t take security from the women.
Their groups act as security. The Commercial Banks are fully aware of this
impressive women performance since all funds are disbursed and recovered through
accounts held in commercial banks.
Our desire is to see Commercial Banks opening up more facilities for women and
cutting back on the stringent requirements.
As a Ministry, we intend to build on the achievements to ensure that we make it even
simpler for the women to access credit and entrepreneurial skills.
Given feedback generated through performance monitoring visits, we sought
Cabinet approval of core changes to ensure that we serve the women better.
i. As enumerated by Mr. Ofwono Opondo, reducing the minimum group size
to five (5) women from ten (10) will enhance group cohesion. The group
approach was adopted because it is cost effective and enables members to
co-guarantee each other to secure revolving funds/loans, since most of the
beneficiaries cannot provide collateral (assets as security).
ii. Cabinet also approved our request for flexibility in management of
enterprises to allow groups decentralize management of their enterprises
into individual and/or mini- groups where applicable. This means group
members can borrow money and finance individual enterprises. BUT they
remain collectively responsible for the loan repayment.
iii. Disburse funds directly to approved women beneficiary groups’ accounts
from the Bank of Uganda. Previously, funds were sent to a special
Programme account at the district from where funds would be passed on
to group accounts. With the new Cabinet approval, the Ministry of Gender,
Labour and Social Development will henceforth send money directly from
Bank of Uganda to group accounts. This will go a long way in solving the
delays we have experienced in some Districts and Municipalities.
iv. Closely related to that, women groups will also maintain only group
members as Signatories to group accounts [that’s the Chairperson,
Secretary and Treasurer]. Previously, the women groups had the Sub-
county Chief as a signatory to their account.
v. Women have been running Current accounts in the Commercial Banks,
which are costly to maintain. Cabinet approved that groups open and
operate Savings Accounts so as to reduce on operational costs. This will
be a great relief to the women.
vi. For groups that have completed repayment but wish to scale up to their
activities/innovations, the Ministry is opening a window within the
Programme to support such groups. We shall work swiftly to refinance
groups that want to scale up.
vii. To match the growing trend of financial management and ease
repayments, the Programme will integrate use of technology such as
through developing ICT platforms for monitoring project implementation
as well as Mobile Money for easing the repayment process especially for
hard to reach areas. This eliminates transport costs and time wasted in
travels to make repayments at Commercial Banks.
viii. To mitigate losses arising from unforeseen calamities like extreme
weather, the Ministry secured Cabinet approval to explore possibilities of
in-building affordable insurance products to safeguard beneficiaries
against risks during project implementation such as through the
Agricultural Subsidy Scheme in collaboration with the Agro-Consortium.
ix. Currently the Programme targets women aged between 18 and 65 years
but I am glad to report that the upper age limit cap was lifted from 65 years
to 79 years. This opens opportunities for more women. With the age of
beneficiaries under the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment
increased to 80 years, the Ministry is happy to incorporate women in the
65-79 age bracket into the women entrepreneurship Programme.
x. Also, the increased Resource Allocation for Institutional Support to 20%
from the current 15% will provide additional resources for the training,
technical support and supervision of groups. This hugely contributes to
the groups’ success.
xi. Henceforth, the Ministry will keep a keen eye on and prioritize enterprises
in value addition so as to enable the women set up small scale cottage
industries and therefore have a high multiplier effect on job-creation. I call
upon women to submit more projects in this area.
xii. We also want to support women enterprises to tap into new profitable
ventures and opportunities such as in the Pharmaceutical Industries,
Construction sector, extraction of plant and animal oils, wheat, technology
among others.
xiii. This will go hand in hand with creating backward and forward linkages
through collaboration with research and enterprise incubation centres for
purposes of promoting innovations and product development.
xiv. The Ministry would also like to see enhanced collaboration with other
actors to create common user facilities such as Maize millers, Animal Feed
Mixers, Extractors to support the Women to undertake processing of Oil,
Carpentry, Leather Tanning, among others so as to enhance exports
xv. Another unique area where we want to invest is the Music and
Film/creative Industry. We call upon women with ideas in this field to
apply for funding.
xvi. As I conclude, we are elated by the Cabinet’s approval of the idea to allot
women quotas in public procurement at local and National level. At least
30% of all Procurements should be provided as local content by the
women. This will open markets for the women and empower them
economically.

With these new changes, women are on a guaranteed path to contribute a significant
share to national development. This is in line with the Programme goal.
Lastly, I implore you the media fraternity to identify women who have benefited
from the fund in your areas and allocate them space to talk about how the Programme
has impacted their livelihoods. Through that, we shall all be making a contribution
to national development.
I thank you.

Pius Bigirimana
PERMANENT SECRETARY
MINISTRY OF GENDER, LABOUR AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT