KAMPALA – UN Women Uganda (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) and Stanbic Ban Uganda have earmarked 15 million dollars (about 56.4 billion shillings) to help lift Ugandan women to economic empowerment.
The partnership was launched Friday, September 29, 2023, in Kampala. Dr. Paulina Chiwangu, UN Women’s Country Representative in Uganda, says when women lag behind, it is not only the women who suffer, but the effect stretches to the country’s economy.
She emphasized the importance of promoting the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society and the private sector, in the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
“This partnership with Stanbic Bank is a confirmation of our shared common objectives to address the interrelated issues of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls and strengthening well-governed, integrated, and inclusive economies. UN Women and Stanbic Bank will also work together in building capacities for women to use ICT facilities within the Women Empowerment Centers,” she said.
Key among other aspects of the three-year partnership include supporting Green Economy Initiatives through tree planting, climate-resilient agriculture, and developing relevant value chains.
Anne Juuko, Stanbic Chief Executive Officer, said the low access to finance still remains a major hindrance to the growth of women-led enterprises, especially the hardship in meeting the collateral requirements at commercial banks.
This means that most women entrepreneurs usually have to start from scratch to build their businesses, hence the decision to collaborate in building their capacity to run and grow their small businesses.
Stanbic Bank through its specialized women’s banking unit, Stanbic for Her, will implement the partnership that seeks to advance women-led enterprises in Uganda, with the aim of ultimately contributing to achieving the desired global gender parity in business.
The partnership aims to contribute to efforts to remove critical barriers such as difficulty in accessing affordable credit by providing critical skills and confidence to engage with financial institutions.
Muchae Gladys, the Stanbic Bank Uganda Country Head for Credit said that ‘Stanbic for Her’ was motivated by the vision to offer financial and non-financial services to unlock the full potential of women-led enterprises.
She hopes that UN Women will explore several possibilities under financial inclusion and access to banking services, to make the funds for women’s groups, through their various Village Savings and Loans Association, safe, and help women in overcoming the post-COVID-19 effects.
“Stanbic for Her’ was motivated by the vision to offer financial and non-financial services to unlock the full potential in women-led enterprises; today we are pleased that the UN Women is joining us in advancing this mission,” she said during the signing.
“Working together with UN Women, we will explore several possibilities under financial inclusion and access to banking services, to make the funds for women groups, through their various Village Savings and Loans Association, safe. We will also collaborate in building their capacity to run and grow their small businesses,” she added, adding that Stanbic for Her, which was started in the midst of the pandemic has reached at least 10,000 women and lent out 56 billion shillings to date.
However, the general problem is, that many people start businesses and most fail before five years. Juuko says that one of the ways to overcome this is to first train the borrowers on business and financial literacy before giving them the money.