KAMPALA – The Steering Committee of the new Generating Growth Opportunities and Productivity for Women Enterprises (GROW) project has held its maiden meeting today with a resolution to fast-track implementation.
Chaired by Mr. James Ebitu, the Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, the committee approved the Project Operation Manual as well as the work plan and budget to augment the project’s execution.
Mr. Ebitu underscored the pivotal role of the Steering Committee, comprising representatives from various Ministries, Departments, Agencies, and the Private Sector, saying it plays a critical function in the project’s governance by coordinating policy actions, overseeing financial risks and proposing mitigation measures, and providing strategic guidance for comprehensive implementation.
The Commissioner Labour, Industrial Relations and Productivity, Mr. Alex Asiimwe, who is the National Project Coordinator, said the project funded through a USD 217m grant from the World Bank was declared effective in January and since then a host of key milestones had been achieved. He enumerated the project’s national launch by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni during the International Women’s Day in Kiruhura, the national rollout that was held at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds, formation of the Steering Committee, and acquisition of funds to kick start implementation, as part of the key milestones scored so far.
He described GROW as a unique project that will offer an integrated package of services for women entrepreneurs including: Empowerment and Enterprise Development Services; Access to Finances; Gender inclusive workplace infrastructure; and Programme management and policy innovation.
The strategy encompasses the creation and fortification of women entrepreneurs’ networks at district, sub-regional, regional, and national levels. Enriching training sessions to enhance women’s entrepreneurial skills and the provision of trade and sector development services such as marketing, branding, certification for exports, product value chain development, and climate-smart production systems are also part of the blueprint.
Other interventions include the provision of work placements for women entrepreneurs to nurture experience and employability, competitive business grants, the establishment of credit lines through commercial banks, as well as the creation of multi-purpose enterprise and productivity centers along with common-user facilities.
Commissioner Alex disclosed that the project’s design envisions the establishment or upgrading of gender-inclusive facilities, such as markets and trading centers specifically designed for women entrepreneurs. This is coupled with the development, upgrade, or equipping of facilities like childcare centers, sanitary facilities, breastfeeding spaces, digital access points, and training rooms.
The project sets its sights on empowering up to 60,000 women-owned enterprises, including a target of 3,000 refugee-owned businesses. Direct beneficiaries are projected to include 280,000 women entrepreneurs and employees, including 42,000 refugees and 14,000 host community members. Beyond the immediate scope, the project aspires to indirectly impact an estimated 1.6 million individuals through its service offerings.
Up to 295,000 direct jobs and 1,180,000 indirect jobs are anticipated over the project’s five-year timeline while an anticipated 35,000 micro-enterprises and 4,000 small women-owned businesses are expected to transition into small and medium-sized enterprises respectively.
Taking the lead in implementing the project is the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, complemented by the co-implementation role undertaken by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda.