It has been over a decade since the Women in Business programme was launched in Uganda during the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). To mark this momentous day, ahead of the 2018 CHOGM that will be held in London in April, the British High Commissioner H.E. Peter West CMG hosted a reception at his residence where he recognised 5 exceptional women who are part of the dfcu Women in Business programme.
The Women in Business programme, which was started by dfcu Bank and enjoys a mentorship partnership the Cherie Blaire Foundation, now boasts of over 35,000 members. 23,000 of these members have been trained in running a business and financial management, with a key focus on increasing the women’s access to financial services and credit facilities.
Although women make over 50% of Uganda’s population, a huge percentage of this number do not have adequate access to finance – the Women in Business programme is addressing this inequality. This lack of access is attributed to low financial literacy, such as, keeping adequate profit and loss accounts, writing business plans and articulating projections -all are key skills in accessing bank credit.
Of the over 35,000-member pool, 4,000, are thanks to the programme now credit-ready, and have received business loans from dfcu Bank to boost their businesses.
The British High Commissioner, H.E. Peter West CMG commented: “I welcome this opportunity to congratulate and recognise talented Ugandan Women in Business. The initiative for celebrating women in business was launched during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda in 2007 by dfcu Bank. Next month the UK will host CHOGM in London under the theme ‘Towards a Common Future’. Trade and gender equality are among the priorities that the Commonwealth Heads of State will discuss. So it is timely to recognise the success of the initiative and to thank everyone involved for their hard work and dedication.”
In 2012, the Women in Business program constituted a five all-female Women in Business Advisory Council, which has a wide scope of expertise to support the bank in gender focused strategy formulation as well as build the capacity and develop the business skills for the women to enable them to continuously make informed business decisions as a primary goal.
According to Rosemary Mutyabule, a member of the dfcu Bank Women in Business Advisory Council, dfcu understands the difficulty women face with limited working capital, lack of collateral to secure loans, limited market information, networks and so much more. “Financial literacy, which is a core element of the programme, plays a major role in ensuring that women who make up a higher percentage of the population have the requisite knowledge, skills and confidence to make informed choices as far as financial management is concerned and more importantly take advantage of the financial services available.”
“When women are more financially literate, they are more productive and are able to make a significant contribution to the economy,” she adds.
A further milestone that was achieved since the Women in Business campaign was launched in 2007, was the opening of the Women in Business Advisory Center in 2015. This is a one-stop-shop for critical business services like
financial and business-to-business advisory services.
The dfcu Women in Business program has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Uganda Law Society, Institute of Certified Public Accountants as well as Makerere University School of Business to further train their members on crucial business matters of law of contracts, accounting best practices and best business management practices.