Stakeholders from research, academia and the private sector have urged government and other concerned parties to critically monitor Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) to overcome glitches, which have since jostled the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP).
The calls arose during a consultative meeting organized by the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) under the INCLUDE Platform on December 20th, 2016 at EPRC conference hall.
“We need to monitor and help government identify gaps, which can be addressed to ensure consolidated progress,” Dr. Sarah Ssewanyana, the Executive Director EPRC counseled.
She added that UWEP is one of the flagship programmes under the National Development Plan (NDP), which requires a close watch to avoid glitches detected in the YLP.
Corruption by district officials, male domination of projects, budget inadequacy, and weak monitoring systems are some of the problems undermining the YLP loan according to various reports. Vagaries of weather also grossly affected rainfall dependent agricultural enterprises, and this is exacerbated by absence of irrigation systems.
There are mixed fears that these problems could as well fail the newly launched Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme.
Hassan Mbaziira the Manager Monitoring and Evaluation Unit- UWEP, Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development said awareness campaigns are conducted by Community Development Officers and thus women know when the money arrives at the Districts. He added that they have endeavored to clarify that UWEP is not a donation from the president, contrary to how YLP was viewed.
Regarding monitoring, Mbaziira said when funds are disbursed; a monitoring team goes on ground to ascertain whether the projects for which finances were requested for have received the funds and are being implemented.
Sarah Kyejjusa, who presented findings of the progress on women entrepreneurship work in Uganda, named lack of business certification as a barrier to UWEP targets since it bars access to credit and better market.
However, Lokeris Modester from Uganda Investment Authority informed participants at the workshop that small businesses could as well be registered without necessarily incorporating them with the registrar of companies.
Dr. Madina Guloba, a Research Fellow with EPRC, pointed out that due to lack of uniqueness in business enterprises being established within certain localities, a substantial share shut down within the first 24 months of operation due to businesses not being profitable, personal reasons and problems of accessing finance.
Madina added that given the low levels of literacy among rural women entrepreneurs, a comprehensive business development approach has to be developed for them.
Ms Fatumah Nanziri Senior State Attorney, Department of Legal Advisory Services, Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, said there is no legal framework to protect female entrepreneurs.
She called for drafting of either independent acts or amending existing business laws with lacunas to protect female entrepreneurs.