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UN Women and Stanbic Bank Join Forces for Women’s Economic Empowerment

un women and stanbic bank join forces for womens economic empowerment
un women and stanbic bank join forces for womens economic empowerment
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A recent survey conducted by various organizations has revealed that achieving gender equality worldwide could take between 140 to 300 years, with a recent report commissioned by UN Women suggesting a 200-year timeline. This estimate is based on the current level of efforts toward gender parity and the challenges hindering progress, emphasizing the need for increased efforts.

In response to this, UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) has formed a partnership with Stanbic Bank Uganda worth $15 million (approximately 56.4 billion shillings) aimed at promoting economic empowerment for Ugandan women.

Dr. Paulina Chiwangu, UN Women’s Country Representative in Uganda, highlights the broader impact of gender inequality, explaining that when women lag behind, it affects not only women but the entire population and the economy. She emphasizes that the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals relies heavily on the success of SDG 5, which focuses on Gender Equality.

The three-year partnership will focus on enhancing the skills and capacity of female entrepreneurs in areas such as financial and business management, value chain marketing, access to cross-border markets, and improving their access to affordable credit.

UN Women, a UN agency dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment worldwide, aims to ensure that every woman and girl can fulfill their full potential. Dr. Chiwangu stresses the importance of involving individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society and the private sector, in promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.

While UN Women has been running programs in Uganda, especially in the north through women’s groups, this partnership will enable them to expand their reach, targeting over 100,000 women, including women refugees.

Stanbic Bank, through its specialized women’s banking unit, Stanbic for Her, will spearhead the partnership’s implementation with the goal of advancing women-led enterprises in Uganda, ultimately contributing to global gender parity in the business sector.

The partnership aims to address critical barriers, including difficulties in accessing affordable credit, by providing essential skills and boosting confidence when engaging with financial institutions.

Muchae Gladys, the Stanbic Bank Uganda Country Head for Credit, expresses the motivation behind “Stanbic for Her,” which is to provide financial and non-financial services to unlock the full potential of women-led enterprises. She hopes that UN Women will explore various avenues related to financial inclusion and access to banking services, ensuring that funds for women’s groups, through Village Savings and Loans Associations, are safe and assist women in recovering from the post-COVID-19 effects.

Anne Juuko, Stanbic Chief Executive Officer, highlights the persistent challenge of limited access to finance, especially the difficulty in meeting collateral requirements at commercial banks, which hampers the growth of women-led enterprises. To address this issue, the partnership focuses on building the capacity of women entrepreneurs to effectively manage and expand their small businesses.

“Stanbic for Her,” initiated during the pandemic, has already reached at least 10,000 women and disbursed 56 billion shillings in loans. However, the broader issue lies in the high failure rate of new businesses, often within the first five years. Juuko suggests that one solution is to provide business and financial literacy training to borrowers before extending financial support.