November 19, 2017

Women’s fund failing to keep up with demand

August 30—The Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Fund (UWEF) is quickly running out of money due to overwhelming demand for loans and the parent government ministry is hard put to find cash to replenish it. It was envisioned that UWEF runs for five years.

“For this quarter, we were supposed to receive UGX16.5 billion (about $4.5 million), but have only received UGX 5.6 billion due to constraints on the budget. We therefore advise the women groups to continue running the projects that they have started with. Those who have not got, should be patient, because this is a revolving fund. If they do not get this year, they will get some other year,” Janat Mukwaya, the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development said recently.

Over a 100 districts leaders from across the country met in Kampala and told the Minister about being besieged with requests from countless women groups. UWEF was created by the government in 2016 to improve their livelihoods by giving them access to credit to start small businesses. It operates as an interest-free revolving fund, however like many other similar government programmes, it is cash strapped.

The participants were meeting over two days under the theme, ‘Accelerating Social Transformation through Promotion of Labour Productivity, Employments and Rights to Vulnerable Groups’.

Peace Tibakuna, the Secretary for Social Services who represented the LC5 Chairman for Bushenyi district, said they were yet to receive funds for this financial year. She said this is causing tension among the women groups that had already been approved to receive the funds. Applicants have to be groups made up of between 10 and 15 members.

She said, “We do not know what to do at this moment. These groups have very organized projects and they are only waiting for finances and we do not have an explanation, because the district has always received these funds first.”

Godfrey Oringa, the Pader district chairperson, said they had received over 88 requests and only 23 groups were able to receive the funds. He asked the government, through the Ministry, to solicit for more funds for women, because they have put the money to good use.

“The women have proved that they are better managers, as they have successfully handled the funds given to them and used it to improve the livelihood of their families. If Uganda is to move away from poverty, we need to put more focus on the women, because they have proved that they care about the well-being of their families,” he said.

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