Ugandan women entrepreneurs have been urged to formalise and ensure consistence in both quality and quantity, to tap into the opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
According to the Uganda National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (UNCCI) acting secretary general Blessing Immaculate Owomugisha, women account for 70% of entrepreneurs in Uganda but only 40% operate formally.
She said this has deprived them the opportunity to tap into big markets and also stand to lose bigger opportunities under the 1.4 billion people AfCFTA market.
Owomugisha who was speaking during the 2021 Women’s Entrepreneurship day celebrations held in Kampala, recently said informality has seen almost 90% of women-businesses collapse before celebrating their first birthday.
The event was organised by the Women’s Entrepreneurship Day Organization (WEDO) Uganda ambassador Damali Ssali, supported by HiPipo, Stanbic Business Incubator, UNCCI, and Met Media.
The WEDO founder and president, Wendy Diamond said the non-governmental organisation seeks to encourage women worldwide to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, with the goal of inspiring hope and alleviating poverty.
She noted that historically women worldwide have been under-paid, undervalued, underrepresented, underfunded and underestimated and thus the movement seeks to correct this historical global imbalance.
WEDO uses ambassadors to spread its mission and message to empower women and girls to become active participants in the economy by igniting a network of women leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs to initiate start-ups, drive economic expansion and advance communities around the world.
This is done through building and catalysing of the vital networks of like-minded individuals and organisations that women business leaders need to realise their full potential and change the world.
“It is inspiring to see women across the globe unite for a single cause. By donating their time, effort and resources to WEDO, they are not only celebrating, supporting and empowering women in business in over 100 countries but also contributing to global unification,” Diamond said.
Building on the successes of WEDO, the ambassadors across the globe are set to initiate programs, campaigns and mentorship programs with regions adopting entrepreneurial support programs that showcase new business ventures in technology, food production, fashion, retail, environmental and educational enterprises being launched.
Diamond said that empowering women worldwide and investing in their futures helps to drive and promote economic vitality and security locally and globally.
Diamond said this year’s focus is on the impact of Artificial Intelligence, Fintech and Blockchain Technologies, the disruption happening globally, and the important, pivotal role women play.
The WEDO Uganda ambassador Damali Ssali alluded to how the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on Ugandan women entrepreneurs, saying that majority lost their working capital, businesses and livelihoods.
Ssali, who is also the Ideation Corner author and founder, noted that while informal cross border traders, 70% of whom are women, exported goods worth $500m in 2019, all this was lost following the border closures as governments instituted lockdown measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“Today we celebrate and recognise women entrepreneurs who have fought hard and strived to keep their businesses afloat during this period. These women have demonstrated resilience, tenacity, courage, adaptability and unwavering persistence to ensure that their businesses survive,” Ssali said.
Women Entrepreneurs celebrated.
Among the celebrated women was Laura Nakigozi, a poultry farmer who at the peak of the lockdown had to sell eggs at a loss due to lack of demand.
Unlike other poultry farmers who quit the business, Nakigozi later managed to bounce back into business with the continued easing of lockdown measures.
Shamim Nirere, the Izere education founder and team leader on the other hand was forced to resort to start imparting critical thinking, leadership, problem-solving skills and communication skills to pupils using an online platform due to the uncertain future of reopening schools.
As for Ephrance Eunice Namugenyi, the Business Store Manager Kuzimba Services resorted to an online web application to aids estate, site/ home building by providing fast engineering solutions and online purchases of building materials.