Women entrepreneurs play a substantial role in socio-economic growth and development of Uganda through creating employment especially to the vulnerable populations especially women and youth. We acknowledge that in Uganda and East Africa at large, women entrepreneurs contribute close to 60% of private sector production and play a crucial role in income generation.
Despite the significant contribution by this category of entrepreneurs, the business mortality rate of women-led SMEs in Uganda is very high as majority close down before completing a year in operation. This has worsened due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In light of this, Capital Solutions together with Mkazipreneur launched the 360° women entrepreneurs Network on the March, 17 2022. This is an exciting end-to- end solution that will address the deep rooted gender biased in the entrepreneurial eco system.
The 360° WEN is an innovative tailored solution for urban and semi-urban based women entrepreneurs in order to scale their businesses, access to finance, network and mentors both Gender based investors and peers in business. This initiative is implemented by Capital Solutions Ltd in partnership with Mkazipreneur, with support from Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) Gender Equality Action Labs and The United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The Action Labs are part of the ANDE Gender Equality Initiative (AGEI), established in 2019 with the support of USAID and the Visa Foundation, to build supportive entrepreneurial ecosystems in emerging markets that are responsive to the ways in which women have been subjected to gender bias and institutional exclusion. The project provides a 360° solution to tackle the most pressing challenges persistently faced by women entrepreneurs. In East Africa, there are no networks providing this end-to-end solution to foster an ecosystem to support women-led businesses and drive the gender lens ecosystem.
The hybrid launch event was graced by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives Ms. Geraldine Ssali Busuulwa who noted that women need the right training, access to financial services and encouraged them to keep in the fight since they are always at a disadvantage.
She thanked the sponsors of the 360° WEN Programme and pledged to continue supporting the initiative
Ms Edna Karanja, Senior Programme Coordinator Aspen Network of development Entrepreneurs (ANDE) while speaking at the event noted that ANDE is excited to partner with Capital Solutions and Mkazipreneur to provide an end to end solution to support women led entrepreneurs and foster gender equality for 100 women entrepreneurs in Uganda and ensure women businesses grow and have access to funds.
She added that the Programme will address some of the pressing societal challenges women entrepreneurs face including gender stereotypes, access to market and limited access to finance.
The 360° WEN is designed for women entrepreneurs in East Africa and specifically Uganda, seeking to expand their business development knowledge, increase their impact measurement and financial management skills, be investment ready and make lifelong connections. The program will support 100 women entrepreneurs at start up and scaling level with trainings and mentorship sessions within a period of one year.