Strengthening Uganda’s Economic Growth with Support to Women Entrepreneurs


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Woman selling vegetables in Naalya market. Credit: Rachel Mabala
Woman selling vegetables in Naalya market. Credit: Rachel Mabala

Women’s economic empowerment is key to quickening and strengthening Uganda’s path to inclusive and sustainable economic growth.  Women’s entrepreneurship holds a critical place in Uganda’s efforts to revive its economy from multiple global and domestic shocks including the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet there are programming gaps, that when addressed will support the growth and productivity potential of women entrepreneurs. The benefits of investing in women’s job skills and growth-oriented entrepreneurship will accrue not only to women, but to all Ugandans, says the 18th edition of the Ugandan Economic Update: Putting Women at the Center of Uganda’s Economic Revival.

According to the Uganda Jobs Strategy for Inclusive Growth, micro, small, and medium enterprises created within the past five years now generate over 50% of formal jobs, and household enterprises provide employment for 3.1 million households. The 2020 Mastercard Global Index of Women Entrepreneurs estimated that women own nearly 40% of all businesses. However,  women entrepreneurs earn 30 % lower profits than men and women business owners in Uganda face gender specific barriers, including lower access to capital, and segregation into lower-value sectors.  

To unlock the potential of women entrepreneurs in Uganda, a comprehensive package is needed to address key barriers in a comprehensive manner. The new Generating Growth Opportunities and Productivity for Women Enterprises (GROW) Project will support a multi-sectoral program of customized services that empower women entrepreneurs and transition their enterprises, from micro to small and, from small to medium, as well as improve their productivity.

Women exhibit craft-items at Kololo grounds during the during the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (Bubu). Credit: Rachel Mabala
Women exhibit craft-items at Kololo grounds during the during the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (Bubu). Credit: Rachel Mabala

GROW’s components will tackle key barriers through:

  1. the provision of enterprise development services including training (technical, life-skills, digital), business advisory services, and women’s networks that facilitate market linkages, value chain and transforming negative social norms that prevent women from engaging in business activities.
  2. increased access to finance for women entrepreneurs to transition from micro enterprises to small and medium enterprises.
  3. enabling inclusive infrastructure through common-users’ facilities and childcare.
  4. support project management, policy innovation, and evidence generation. These components include host communities and have specialized activities that address the specific needs of refugee women entrepreneurs.

GROW’s team will work with World Bank teams focused on  Social Inclusion and Sustainability, Social Protection and Jobs and Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation and collaborate with the Gender Team. Given the innovative nature of the project, the Africa Gender Innovation Lab has played a key role in its design and  will also support implementation in order to document lessons learned and support impact evaluation.

Similarly, the GROW team will continue its collaboration with the Women, Business, and the Law program to address policy constraints for women entrepreneurs in Uganda.

The project will also work closely with external partners such as the Gates Foundation, development partners, women entrepreneurs’ associations, and academia. GROW represents the largest and most comprehensive effort to support women’s economic empowerment in the country under the leadership of the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development in conjunction with the Private Sector Foundation in Uganda. It is expected that the project will create a solid platform for dialogue, exchange of experiences and action towards women’s economic empowerment.



Margarita Puerto

Social Development Specialist, World Bank

Join the Conversation

January 24, 2023

Positive intervention for women in enterprises.

Leticia Nakitende
April 06, 2023

This article is quite interesting and I would love the organization I work for to support in achieving the goals. also, the women in our network/database across the country would benefit from this.
Good Job for supporting women

Alfred Okiru
October 13, 2023

This is a very good opportunity for our feminist who are venturing passionately into the small scale business area. Indeed they are worth being uplifted to be able to prevail over the overwhelming poverty in our nation and continent at large.

Dr. Peter Michael Owiny
May 15, 2023

Good thought. Though the article would articulate some of the and sub-Saharan Africa experiences to justify what the article claim to be achievement for Uganda. Are there no better lessons from other countries that Uganda need to borrow?

Narinda Darious
June 13, 2023

I love the organization, women empowerment is key to the gender equality and i consent to support the initiative, given opportunity i labor to deliver well to communities.

Hannington Aso-Lee Onyadrile
June 23, 2023

What is the criteria for women with petty or micro businesses to access the GROW funding, especially the rural poor?

Update me on a matter related to this project. I'm waiting to interact more as time goes.

Thank you.

August 07, 2023

The GROW project is a good intervention for Women entrepreneurs by way of economic strengthening of their enterprises.

The project will end in 2027 will there be some consultancy opportunities like mid term review of the project to address project impact.

Mwanja George
September 05, 2023

Good intervention for women , hope the needs assessment will be perfect. what does each individual woman entrepreneur need in terms of financing, training, infrastructural support etc in order to grow the enterprise?

Herbert Opus
September 05, 2023

commendable efforts and request for joining and participating in the golden opportunity

Herbert Opus
September 05, 2023

How i can also tap such golden opportunity because i work and house many women members in the community and this would be great opportunity for developing from micro level to small, medium enterprise levels.

Murungi Cricent
September 05, 2023

Am really happy for this program because it is all about empowering women. It will help us to grow big as we generate more income and profits for our small businesses.

Namwita Anne Angella
September 08, 2023

Eager to partake on this opportunity for the grassroots ladies especially the single mums struggling to make both ends meet . with God all will be well the struggle continues thanks in advance

Umutesi Lorreta
September 28, 2023

Information is sanctity, How many women groups have benefited from this project? How many rural women can articulate
and understand the process?

Esther Ataparachu
September 28, 2023

Thumbs up for work well done on Women. Who qualifies for the program?

Gats Mc photography
September 28, 2023

Am in love with this article
Women empowerment is everything to the world

Linda Layet Oloya
September 28, 2023

What is the criteria for me to access the fund . I own a small business that deals in seeds production and i work with small
holder farming groups in the rural area , most of them are women and youth. we have been getting small loans from the bank to support them .

Topacho Agnes
October 13, 2023

This is a good initiative. For long we have struggled with accessing capital and lacked business and financial management training.How do I access and benefit from this program as a small start up in the rural area?

Aparo Jennifer
December 04, 2023

This is a good article and to me it has come in time. I have just ventured into bar soap making and I really need skills training how do I get more information not only for myself but other small scale women Entrepreneurs around me.

Juliet Ngobi
December 04, 2023

This is a very nice opportunity for women to uplift their status in our nation.
We the leaders we will make sure that we support this project to ensure that we sensitise our communities about THE GROW PROJECT.