How Uganda Development Bank is advancing women’s empowerment 

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This text is sponsored by UDB

Patricia Ojangole, the managing director of Uganda Improvement Financial institution (UDB), views her function on the helm of the financial institution as greater than only a job – it’s a robust platform to empower ladies. Since taking the reins in 2012 she has been a tireless advocate for gender equality inside UDB. Her optimism is infectious, and below her management, the financial institution has seen a notable enhance in feminine illustration: “45% of the Financial institution’s employees are feminine, with over 20 females serving in numerous managerial roles,” she tells African Enterprise. 

Ojangole attributes this progress to the Financial institution’s tradition of inclusivity and merit-based development, which she notes has helped foster a piece setting the place all employees, no matter gender, can thrive and attain their full potential. 

“I don’t consider that girls are much less succesful than males in relation to work. I subsequently expose them to the identical alternatives which might be accessible to males and provides them the identical expectations that I count on from male colleagues. That is our tradition and work setting during which we respect everybody,” she says. 

Crucially, UDB isn’t solely selling gender equality inside its ranks, but in addition extra broadly in Ugandan society. It’s doing so by means of a set of economic services and products particularly designed to cater for the distinctive wants of girls in Uganda. A shining instance of that is UDB’s Girls Financing Phase. Established in 2021, this enterprise unit is devoted to the event of gender-responsive monetary services and products. Its mission is threefold: supporting ladies entrepreneurs, investing in sectors that predominantly make use of ladies, and addressing ladies’s shopper wants.

Offering funding and coaching 

UDB’s flagship ladies’s financing product is its Girls Prosper Loans product. Ojangole notes that the product is a key element of the Financial institution’s gender-lens funding plan. “Girls Prosper has emerged as a robust impression funding technique that mixes pursuing monetary returns with pursuing gender equality and social well-being.” 

She believes that the product’s early success underscores its relevance in addressing an unmet market want. “In 2023, after one yr of rolling out this product, 16% of the particular programme tasks funded had been women-owned as outlined by the Financial institution’s standards.” 

Ojangole notes that the Financial institution has allotted as much as 20% of its core capital for financing qualifying enterprises below the Financial institution’s “Particular Packages” provision, which exists to serve SMEs, women-led companies, and youth-linked ventures. Past its personal monetary dedication, UDB goals to catalyse new sources of finance and convey about monetary improvements, such because the introduction of Mortgage Ensures, to assist women-owned enterprises with collateral challenges. On this regard, UDB and the African Assure Fund (AGF) entered a partnership value 16bn Ugandan shillings (roughly $4m) in January to boost sustainable lending to qualifying enterprises below the financial institution’s Particular Packages proposition. 

Coaching is one other essential element of UDB’s proposition to women-owned enterprises. By its Enterprise Accelerator programme, UDB supplies coaching to each present and potential shoppers. Ojangole says that over 2000 ladies have benefited from the initiative within the final 18 months. “UDB employs a mixture of coaching and incubation programmes, advisory in addition to technical assist to fulfill this aspiration.”

A number of research have proven that coaching programmes can equip ladies entrepreneurs with important enterprise expertise, similar to monetary administration, advertising, and strategic planning. This may also help them make knowledgeable choices and run their companies extra successfully. 

UDB has additionally entered into partnerships with a number of ladies’s organisations across the nation to strengthen its enchantment and attain extra potential ladies shoppers. “The Financial institution has partnered with umbrella ladies’s organisations with a membership of two.5m ladies member enterprises based mostly on a mutually useful relationship.” 

Digital monetary providers key for girls

Digital monetary providers are a sport changer for girls, rural populations and different teams which were historically missed by the formal monetary system. UDB is among the gamers main the cost in Uganda, with a eager concentrate on increasing its digital choices to ladies farmers. 

The Financial institution has solid partnerships with fintech companies to boost credit score entry to smallholder farmers. One such partnership with fintech agency Ensibuuko Applied sciences supplies short-term seasonal loans to smallholder farmers in distant areas with financing wants as little as 50,000 Ugandan shillings (roughly $12). All the course of, from utility to approval and disbursement, is digital, with funds transferred on to the farmers’ e-mobile wallets. This fintech resolution, dubbed Agriconnect, goals to increase credit score to the underserved on a big scale. Ojangole notes that these digital initiatives are complemented by conventional choices just like the UDB Girls Prosper Mortgage.

Ojangole, nonetheless, contends that regardless of robust development in adoption of digital monetary providers by ladies in Uganda, sustained efforts are wanted to convey ladies on par with males. In line with the Nationwide Monetary Inclusion Technique – developed by the Financial institution of Uganda and the nation’s finance ministry – ladies are trailing behind males in utilising digital monetary providers. The gender hole is clear in using cell cash, with solely 25% of Ugandan ladies utilizing it, in comparison with 38% of males. 

Moreover, ladies are at a drawback in relation to proudly owning accounts, making digital transactions, saving, borrowing cash, and understanding monetary providers. In line with Ojangole, this gender disparity persists in each digital and non-digital monetary inclusion. She believes that the reply to getting extra ladies to make use of digital monetary providers lies in investing in modern financing options. 

Dreaming large 

“The vast majority of financially excluded ladies are within the casual sector and hard-to-reach areas, which requires modern financing options to succeed in out to them. Improvements in digital monetary inclusion with a particular concentrate on ladies is, subsequently, crucial to enhance the monetary inclusion standing of the ladies.”

In line with Ojangole, feminine entrepreneurs in Uganda mustn’t shrink back from dreaming large. With backing from lenders like UDB, these ladies are inspired to scale up their companies for a extra important financial and societal impression.

“Whereas the federal government of Uganda has efficiently helped ladies to begin small companies by means of initiatives such because the Uganda Girls Entrepreneurship Program, extra feminine entrepreneurs want to maneuver into the bigger enterprise area to drive Uganda’s industrial transition.” 

Ojangole believes that African monetary establishments can take a leaf out of UDB’s guide. By implementing specialised lending and enterprise improvement providers for girls, they will advance ladies’s financial empowerment. Nevertheless it doesn’t cease there. Ojangole insists that monetary establishments should monitor and doc their progress in advancing ladies’s empowerment, making certain they maintain themselves accountable to their commitments. “The Financial institution, each month, tracks sustainability indicators with a concentrate on enabling inclusive prosperity.” 

Supply: african.business

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