The Government of Uganda, through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development (MGLSD) is set to launch the ‘50 Million African Women Speak’ networking platform project on 1st December at Serena Hotel.
The project provides an online networking platform to connect 50 million African women in business across 38 African countries from the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and the Economic Community for West African States (ECOWAS).
It is an online social network that allows women in Africa to learn from each other and be able to share lessons, as well as conduct businesses.
Speaking to the press at Uganda Media Centre, the Minister of State for Disability and Elderly Affairs Sarah Kanyike said that in Uganda, like in most African countries, women are the majority players in the small businesses and informal sector.
They however, she said, face enormous challenges in accessing finances needed to grow their businesses while they also lack networks, information and opportunities relevant to their business needs.
“Weak property rights also deprive women of collateral and tangible assets while legal barriers impede their economic activities and cultural barriers discourage women from thriving as entrepreneurs,” she said.
She added that the platform comes at a time when sub Saharan Africa hosts close to 13 million formal and informal Small and Medium-sized Enterprises with one or more women owners, yet, only 16-20% of women entrepreneurs are able to access long-term financing from formal financial institutions to scale up their businesses.
“Our intention is to also bring onboard women entrepreneurs who do not belong to any umbrella organization. It’s our great conviction that the project will compliment other running Government efforts aimed at addressing the key development challenges faced by women- owned small and medium enterprises,” Kanyike added.
This Project is also in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls by the year 2030.
“It’s therefore in our national interest to have more women onto this new platform to tap into the opportunities at the Continental level.”
Kanyike revealed that government has engaged with umbrella organizations that support women entrepreneurs and have generated a lot of enthusiasm for bringing the platform to their members.
These include; Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited (UWEAL), KACITA Women’s League, Private Sector Foundation (PSFU), Uganda Manufacturer’s Association, Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA), Cross-border Associations, Market trader Associations, and civil society organizations.
Kanyike added: “We believe that the launch will build enthusiasm for the platform among the different stakeholders and also avail us an opportunity to brief stakeholders about the objectives, use, and benefits of the 50 Million African Women Speak Digital networking platform.”
She noted that these and many more initiatives focused on women’s economic empowerment will close the financing gap and enable access to information for women in business, ultimately leading to growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for African economies.
Kanyike further called upon leaders at all levels to take interest in the platform and popularize it among their constituents for the advancement of women businesses and consequently national growth.
“I also encourage the media to give prominence to the platform so that more women are made aware of its existence and use,” she urged.