Accessing finance is difficult for women in Uganda. With property passing from male to male, it’s difficult for women to offer any collateral to lenders.
Despite this, nearly 40 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are owned by women. These businesses employ nearly two million people.
DFCU Bank, a commercial bank in Uganda, recognises the important role women have to play in the country’s development. To help women entrepreneurs overcome the challenges they face, DFCU Bank set up a Women in Business programme in 2007. This programme supports 6,500 businesswomen with training, networking opportunities, preferential borrowing rates, and mentor programmes.
The support the programme offers include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Offering professional women access to finance through salary loans
- Offering female traders unsecured lending of up to $20,000
- Supporting rural women to set up investment clubs in order to pool savings
“ The women are so motivated because they have to run their families, they have to make sure their children have a quality life, that they go to school, and that they have medical care. Once they go into business they have a reason for being in business, to support their families to have a quality life”
Dr Gudula Naiga Basaza, Vice Chairperson, DFCU’s Women Business Advisory Council
Supporting businesswomen and their employees
Clean Plus Professional Services is a successful business with high-profile clients ranging from banks to government offices. Its founder and managing director, Yvonne Katamba, watched it grow over ten years from a single employee with an annual turnover of $2,000 into a business with 175 employees and a $275,000 annual turnover.
Initially, Yvonne found it difficult to find a bank willing to let her open a business account. She turned to DFCU where conditions are much more favourable for a start-up business. A lease of $14,000 allowed Yvonne to purchase a vehicle, a scrubber machine, and a vacuum cleaner. She was also able to benefit from the Women in Business program, which provided training and networking opportunities.
“ I’m so proud. From where we started, at home with on employee, and now it’s such a big company. We are able to write good proposals to the bank and get money.”
Yvonne Katamba, Founder and Managing Director at Clean Plus Professional Services
Margaret Bako is a supervisor at Clean Plus Professional Services, having worked there for six years. As a single mother, she uses her wages to pay her rent the school fees for her two children.
Over the past decade, Yvonne has helped many women like Margaret build their careers and increase income. A majority of Yvonne’s employees are women aged 18-30 – many with minimal education. The company offers training and also encourages employees to attend evening school classes.
“I’m using the money to pay my children’s school fees, to pay the rent, feeding myself also. Actually, I want them to be in the future better. Better than me.”
Margaret Bako, Supervisor at Clean Plus Professional Services