MUTUKULA– Women traders under the Uganda Women Cross border Union have asked government to support women in forming more cooperatives at the country’s border posts.
Jane Benuza, the Secretary General of Uganda Women Cross border Union, says there are over 7,000 cross-border women traders who need to be helped through cooperatives, more so to access financial services, skills, and information at the border posts.
According to her, only 11 cooperatives are registered at 17 border posts across the country, adding that border posts like Mpondwe, Rwakaka, Shasha, Kyanika, Goli, and Elegu do not have cooperative societies SACCOs to support women traders.
The businesswoman made the call while meeting the First Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for East African Community [EAC] Affairs Rebecca Kadaga who was on a tour of Mutukula border area recently.
Benuza told Kadaga that women’s participation in business development is slow at some border posts due to the absence of cooperatives that would provide affordable credit as well as information on business opportunities.
”Women traders are yearning for cheap financial services and skills in enterprise development and marketing,” she said, adding that women traders face harassment when crossing border points.
Benuza said women traders need more facilities to cater for skills development on customs procedures, taxation, trade and even developing their confidence.
Magdalene Nassolo, a rice trader at the border post said women traders have the potential to grow their businesses but are limited by a lack of affordable credit and inadequate information.
She said women traders have established a cooperative to boost their businesses, although it is still weak.
She appealed to government to provide women traders with interest-free credit under Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Programme [UWEP]. She said: ”If women traders at the border posts get access to the UWEP revolving fund, they will develop their businesses.”
Nassaolo added that women traders at the Mutukula border post have created a good working relationship with URA staff who have established a desk to look into the challenges they face.
Uganda Revenue Authority [URA] officer in charge of the southwestern region, Peter Gikwiyakare said government has established trade information desks on top of building storage facilities at the border post to help women exporters and importers.
He added that some women cross-border traders have been trained and equipped with skills in micro and small-scale businesses.
Gikwiyakare said Mutukula has the fastest automated e-single window system for clearing goods in the shortest time, reducing transaction costs in the process.
Kadaga urged women traders to be organised in groups, saying that government is committed to ensuring that all women in the country are economically empowered through the existing development programs.
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