The growth of Ugandan women in business remains a challenge

The growth of Ugandan women in business remains a challenge

There have been many efforts to empower Ugandan women by moving them from the kitchen to putting them at the forefront of trade and commerce. These efforts aim not only to contribute to its financial independence, but also to strengthen the country's economic base.
There is certainly a growing number of successful women in business in the country. This is good but many women continue to do small-scale businesses.
At the heart of this crisis is an ecosystem involving banks, the private sector and academia, trying to help the average Ugandan woman become another Oprah Winfrey.
Despite trainings and women empowerment programmes, women like Ms. Sarah Kiampere are still far from achieving growth in their businesses.
Ms Kyampaire owns a cosmetics and soap manufacturing company. After her husband died, the widow, in her late thirties, was left to provide for her nine children. It was not only the need for financial independence that drove her into business, but also the need to feed and maintain a roof over her children's heads.

The resident of Busukuma, Wakiso District, says that after she acquired the necessary skills in 2013, she started making kushanana jelly in 2014.
Three years later, she still sells seven to ten jars of this jelly every week at Sh5,000. As she talks about why she was unable to grow her business, she reveals that doing business as a woman is still difficult due to failure to recapitalize the company.
“I started this business with Sh30,000. However, it was difficult to grow from Sh30,000 to Sh100,000 because I had to utilize every profit without reinvesting. Whatever profit I make, I spend because my children have to feed and go to school .
Its inability to reinvest in the business has cost it some customers due to erratic supply.
“When I get some money, I produce a few boxes of the product, and then my customers have to wait a month or more because I don’t have the capital,” she says.

According to Centenary Bank's Business Growth Manager, Mr. Michael Gjingo, more than 65 percent of Uganda's business professionals are women but they face major challenges.
He says women in business lack the additional collateral with which they can obtain credit to capitalize their businesses.
What's more, high levels of illiteracy still make business growth very difficult.
“Most of them have dropped out of school. “They go into business as a last resort, so it's not like they've been trained on how to run a business.”
“The issues with lack of education are that bookkeeping is not correct, financial management and customer care is not correct,” he adds.
Successful companies choose the right principles that push them to another level. However, according to Mr Abe Mutumba, a lecturer at Makerere University Business School, women face a number of challenges faced by business growth.
He admits that recording transactions on their own terms without necessarily having an accountant present is a major hurdle.
“They lack simple record keeping where they have documents like receipts and vouchers so that they have a record of defense that justifies their ability to supply or deliver when they negotiate for a contract. If they need a loan, they have a record of that.”

He attributes this to ignorance and mistrust of spouses, but without records, businesses cannot expand.
Mr. Mutumba admits that these women find it difficult to balance income from different businesses.
“They tend to mix different sources of income because most of them are owners of investment projects,” he adds. “You find someone who works in raising pigs and poultry and has a wholesale store, and balancing income, expenses and profits becomes complicated.”
However, Ms. Ruth Musuki, Head of Skills Development Facility at Private Sector Enterprise Uganda, says women in small businesses need to focus on achieving the business goal of one enterprise before setting up another.
“Identify your priorities, narrow your list down to one thing and try to set actions annually so that you are able to achieve what you want to do, one by one,” she says.

In addition, for most women, separating their personal income from work income is not easy at all.
“I haven't separated my income,” says Ms. Quimpere. “I know I shouldn't mix the two, but when the need arises I use what's there.” “I don't make budgets, and I can't follow them because of the needs of the house,” she admits.
Ms Musuki says personal budgets are a must and can enable women to manage their finances.
“When you run a business, you have to know how much money you're paying yourself out of it. Once you know that, you'll know how much you're spending to sustain your life.

Business success
Winning formula
Mr. Jjingo suggests that women should do the work properly, widely, and widely, so that the work expands within the same line to get more profits.
For Mutumba, women must keep proper records, manage finances well, and continually learn through associations with a diverse group of business-minded people.
Women have to look at their businesses as separate entities because they are then able to balance their different business portfolios and decide which ones to focus on.

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