The minister said the Government adopted the initiative to ensure that Ugandan women entrepreneurs have expanded access to capital, business information and networks across Africa to strengthen their businesses.Two million women from Uganda will be selected to join the African Women Speak Digital Networking Platform Project.This is Africa's project intended to boost women in business.Sarah Kanyike, the state minister for disability and elderly affairs said Uganda was set to launch the project.The minister said the Government adopted the initiative to ensure that Ugandan women entrepreneurs have expanded access to capital, business information and networks across Africa to strengthen their businesses.The project was launched in November, 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda during the global gender summit organised by the African Development Bank.Dubbed the 50 Million African Women Speak Networking Platform, the project will be implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in partnership with the East African Community Secretariat, the Ministry of East African Community Affairs and the United Nations Development Program and the African Development Bank.Kanyike explained that the project provides an online networking platform to connect 50 million African women in business from 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).
The online social network enables women in Africa to learn from each other, share lessons and experiences as well as conduct business.
It is accessible at: womenconnect.org. It is also downloadable as an app at the Google and Apple online stores.In Uganda, like in most African countries, women are the majority players in the small businesses and informal sector.Women face many challenges in accessing finances needed to grow their businesses.
They also lack networks, information and opportunities relevant to their business needs.The minister while addressing journalists at the Media Centre about the project said that Sub-Saharan Africa has over 13 million formal and informal small and medium-sized enterprises owned by one or more women."Only 16-20% of women entrepreneurs are able to access long-term financing from formal financial institutions to scale up their businesses," Kanyike said.
She noted that weak property rights deprive women of collateral and tangible assets.She added that legal barriers impede business women's economic activities and cultural barriers discourage them from thriving.The project is in line with the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5 on achieving gender equality and empowering women and girls by the year 2030.
"It is in our national interest to have women on to this new platform to tap into the opportunities at the continental level," Kanyike said.