Parliament Questions World Bank Grant for Women Entrepreneurs

PAC Raises Alarm Over Misallocation of Shs803 Billion World Bank Grant for Women Entrepreneurs

Parliament Questions World Bank Grant for Women Entrepreneurs
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The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has raised concerns about the use of a Shs803 billion World Bank grant intended for the Generating Growth Opportunities and Productivity for Women (GROW) Project.

According to the Auditor General’s report, although the grant’s primary aim is to support established women-led businesses, a significant portion is being allocated to mind-set change programmes, infrastructure development, and competitions, rather than directly aiding the women entrepreneurs financially.

The project, which began in January 2023 and will end in December 2027, targets female-owned enterprises across all districts, municipalities, and cities.

However, during a meeting with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and the Private Sector Foundation on Monday, June 17, 2024, it was revealed that only Shs133 billion was allocated directly to women, with some funds given out as loans at a 10 percent interest rate. Committee members criticized this, noting that the government was charging Ugandans interest on money received as a grant.

Committee Chairperson, Hon. Muwanga Kivumbi, expressed concern over the distribution of expenditures, revealing that only Shs33 billion of the total grant is allocated to direct financial support for women-led enterprises, while the majority is used by the Ministry of Gender and the Private Sector Foundation for secondary activities. “Out of the US$217 million, only US$35 million is available for women to borrow, which is unacceptable,” he said.

Alex Asiimwe, the Commissioner for Labour, Industrial Relations and Productivity at the Gender Ministry, stated that the grants would target sectors where women are predominantly engaged and have potential for scale and job creation. These sectors include agribusiness, manufacturing, and hospitality, with a focus on foods, beverages, crafts, and decorations.

Aggrey David Kibenge, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Gender, informed the committee that the grant foundation required a holistic approach, despite its focus on women already in business. “The project is structured to address more than just credit issues because providing credit alone might not help if women cannot access it through banks,” he said.

Hon. Fredrick Angura, MP for Tororo South County, called for a re-evaluation of the grant’s allocation to ensure that a larger portion directly benefits the women entrepreneurs.

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