The Steering Committee of the new Generating Growth Opportunities and Productivity for Women Enterprises (GROW) project convened its inaugural meeting on Tuesday, with a resolute determination to expedite implementation. Led by James Ebitu, the Acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development, the committee ratified the Project Operation Manual, and endorsed the work plan and budget, thereby bolstering the project’s execution.
Ebitu underscored the pivotal role of the Steering Committee, a conglomerate of representatives from various Ministries, Departments, Agencies, and the Private Sector. He emphasized its critical function in project governance: coordinating policy actions, overseeing financial risks, suggesting mitigation strategies, and providing strategic direction for comprehensive execution.
Alex Asiimwe, the National Project Coordinator and Commissioner of Labour, Industrial Relations, and Productivity, highlighted the project’s significant achievements since its USD 217 million grant from the World Bank was declared effective in January. These milestones encompassed the project’s national inauguration by President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni on International Women’s Day in Kiruhura, the subsequent nationwide launch at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds, the establishment of the Steering Committee, and the acquisition of initial funds to initiate implementation.
GROW stands as a distinctive initiative, offering an integrated array of services for women entrepreneurs, including Empowerment and Enterprise Development Services, Access to Finances, gender-inclusive workplace infrastructure, and Program Management and Policy Innovation. The project strategy entails cultivating and reinforcing networks of women entrepreneurs at district, sub-regional, regional, and national tiers. It involves enriching training sessions to enhance entrepreneurial skills and delivering trade and sector development services like marketing, branding, export certification, product value chain development, and environmentally conscious production systems.
Additional interventions encompass work placements for women entrepreneurs to cultivate experience and employability, competitive business grants, the establishment of credit lines through commercial banks, alongside the creation of multi-purpose enterprise and productivity centers, coupled with common-user facilities. Commissioner Alex revealed the project’s design envisions gender-inclusive facilities such as markets and trading centers specifically tailored to women entrepreneurs. This aligns with the development, enhancement, or equipping of facilities like childcare centers, sanitary amenities, breastfeeding spaces, digital access points, and training rooms.
The project’s aspiration is to empower up to 60,000 women-owned enterprises, including 3,000 refugee-owned businesses. Direct beneficiaries are projected to comprise 280,000 women entrepreneurs and employees, including 42,000 refugees and 14,000 host community members. Beyond the immediate scope, the project aims to indirectly impact an estimated 1.6 million individuals through its service offerings.
Over the span of five years, the project anticipates generating up to 295,000 direct jobs and 1,180,000 indirect jobs. Moreover, an estimated 35,000 micro-enterprises and 4,000 small women-owned businesses are expected to transition into small and medium-sized enterprises. The Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development spearheads project implementation, bolstered by co-implementation efforts by the Private Sector Foundation Uganda.