LIRA – Applications for cash grants by women groups to Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP) are on the decline in the northern district of Lira, we are told.
UWEP was launched in the financial year 2015/2016 largely to catapult the most vulnerable women into entrepreneurship and kick-up their household incomes.
UWEP doles out zero interest credit under a revolving fund mechanism. It also promotes appropriate technologies aimed at improving production and value addition.
In Lira, the program started in the financial year 2016/2017 with applications from 52 women groups (with about 705 members). This first phase received a grant amounting to Shs 227 million.
The government in the second phase of the 2018/2019 financial year released Shs 222 million to 45 groups (with 607 members).
However, the number of applicants in the second phase dropped from 45 to 28 in the financial years 2018/2019 and 2020/2021 respectively.
Ronnie Olao, the district’s UWEP coordinator, attributed the drop in applicants to defaults on repayment by the first women’s groups. He said the first and second beneficiary groups must pay back for the new groups to benefit. Delays in paying back cause delays in funding the next groups, he said.
“As you are aware the UWEP fund is a revolving fund, but in Lira we have recorded poor loan recovery despite equipping beneficiaries with financial training. The groups have failed to refund the money and apparently there is nothing we can offer to new groups who show interest,” he said.
He said however, that no penalties are slapped on defaulters.
Interviewed for a comment, Caroline Ajwang, the chairperson of one of the beneficiary women groups; Par Pii Ayim, said; “The interest rate for this money is affordable, however, it depends on the enterprise selection. For our case, we chose produce and generally we were able to pay back the money and the group members are doing well.”
Another beneficiary, Santa Akullo, the treasurer for Coorom Women Group told theCooperator that her group has reaped lots of profit from UWEP, which have helped them pay their children’s school fees and buy valuable properties.
Last week, the Minister of Finance, Matia Kasaija bowed to pressure and retained the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP) fund for women and Youth Livelihood funds under the Ministry of Gender Labor and social development.
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