By Mulengera Reporters
The East African Community (EAC) Secretariat has, in partnership with African Development Bank (AfDB), unveiled a $13m project aimed at mentoring and empowering women with financial literacy information to enable them make prudent business decisions and deepen their participation in the formal economy.
Christened “50 Million African Women Speak Networking Platform Project,” the three-year initiative is aimed at networking and bringing together women entrepreneurs so that they can learn from each other.
Achel Bayisenge, who is the regional content manager for the project, says there is a lot less successful women can learn from those that have had more successful attempts at undertaking business entrepreneurship and the aim of the project is to bring together both women so that the less advantaged can learn from the more accomplished colleagues so that those starting up don’t have to repeat similar mistakes.
Some women tend to be phobic about financial institutions and formal ways of doing business and as such require motivation and inspiration from those who have successfully tried out things. Bayisenge says gratefully, there are many commercial banks especially Centenary Bank in Uganda’s case that have many products aimed at deepening women inclusion into the formal financial system.
All the women need is mentorship and empowerment to go out and access these specially-tailored products and transform themselves into successful entrepreneurs. The assumption is that once empowered and capacity is built in them, women can easily succeed at business ventures and thereby achieve the financial inclusion objective.
On Friday, the EAC Secretariat team was in Kampala and had an engagement workshop with journalists who were urged to become interested in reporting about matters of financial inclusion for women. The event took place at Grand Imperial hotel and was preceded by similar engagements targeting financial institutions and banks whose executives have welcomed the EAC’s $13m intervention as long overdue.
It’s expected the project will be launched later this year and then implementation and operationalization commence. “There are many success stories which we want to use these networking engagements to be shared with less successful women so that they don’t lose hope but become determined to try again. Even those interested in accessing bank credit are inhibited by lack of collateral and the idea is to train them on how to overcome such obstacles,” says Bayisenge.
Women organizations and groups, including those previously consulted during the thinking process for the 50m women project, will continue to be engaged as the EAC Secretariat moves towards implementation. The idea is to rely on their ideas to determine the best implementation mechanism for the $13m project that will be shared among the 5 EAC partner states.
Its’ something the AfDB is replicating in other parts of Africa leveraging on other regional groupings like ECOWAS and COMESA. This is one way through which AfDB has decided to give back to the African masses by specifically seeking to uplift women who are major participants in production activities especially among the rural households. The idea is to impact on 50m African women by the time the three years for the project elapse. (For comments, call, text or whatsapp us on 0703164755 or email us at email@example.com).