Why women entrepreneurs must embrace tech

Ruth Asasira

What you need to know:

  • With the reopening of the economy, women entrepreneurs need to level up and take advantage of opportunities to propel their businesses to the next level.

According to an article titled ‘Unlocking the potential of women entrepreneurs in Uganda’ and published by the World Bank, Uganda has a strong culture of entrepreneurship, including among women. It is one of only seven countries worldwide that has achieved gender parity in terms of the number of women driven to pursue entrepreneurial activities.

The Fourth Edition of the Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs ranked Uganda at (38.2 percent) of total female business owners - an indication that nearly four in every 10 business owners in Uganda are women. The report also noted a disproportionate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women entrepreneurs around the world, with 87 percent saying they have been adversely affected.

Despite the fact that women entrepreneurs own at least 31 percent of all registered Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Uganda (SMEs make up at least 70 percent of the economy, contributing 20 percent of GDP), they still face a myriad of issues such as the fact that they are concentrated in sectors that were heavily hit by the economic downturn, the pronounced digital gender gap in an increasingly virtual world, and the mounting pressures of childcare responsibilities, leaving them most vulnerable.

With the reopening of the economy, women entrepreneurs need to level up and take advantage of opportunities to propel their businesses to the next level. According to Rosemary Mutyabule, a board member of dfcu Bank’s Women in Business Advisory Council, women entrepreneurs should embrace the opportunities offered by technology to expand their markets beyond their immediate vicinity.

“With the re-opening of both the local and global economy, now is the time to give your business a new focus and use the lessons you have picked from the last two years of the Covid-19 lockdown to rebuild your business and position it for growth.   It is time to reflect on and embrace digital innovation & e-commerce,” she advised.

“The digital space will expose our businesses to a wider customer base with differing preferences. Let’s innovate and offer them value.  Dfcu bank has made it possible for us to do business through various digital channels such as quick banking, agency and mobile banking,” she urged.  

In partnership with Daily Monitor and Uganda Investment Authority, dfcu Bank launched the fifth edition of ‘Rising Woman’ a platform where women entrepreneurs can gain business skills among which include how to use technology for business sustainability. Women entrepreneurs also stand a chance to win seed capital to boost their businesses by entering a business proposal writing competition. 

The programme has supported over 65,000 businesswomen with training, networking opportunities, preferential borrowing rates, and mentorship. Tailor-made financial solutions are also extended to women as it is among the challenges women entrepreneurs tend to face.

“Tough times never last, but tough people do”. While it may sound like a cliché it is indeed true. We are emerging from a difficult period that redefined “normal”. Businesses have struggled, some have closed. But a new crop of women entrepreneurs abandoning the comfort of a guaranteed salary are daring to risk the adventure of starting a new business. The pandemic revealed gaps and new opportunities that one can take advantage of. dfcu can give women the support to grow a side hustle in a thriving business,” said Patricia Karugaba Kyazze, managing director Nina Interiors and a Board member of WiB.

The opportunity

With the ‘Rising Woman’ competition opens until July, women entrepreneurs can now participate in the proposal writing competition to stand a chance to win up to Shs10million in any of the three categories: Digital Innovation & E-commerce, Agribusiness value addition, Manufacturing and consumer services. The top 10 winners of the competition will also win a week all expenses paid business exposure trip outside Uganda.

“We are purposefully scaling up the programme to reach all women who desire to improve themselves economically, be it women professionals, women in trade or those employed in the agribusiness value chain specifically the women in farmer-based organisations (FBOs), Co-operatives, Investment clubs. We are leveraging the wide branch network of 56 locations to reach more women” Ms Asasira said.

By Ruth Asasira. The author is the manager, Women in Business at dfcu bank.