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Gender Ministry Extends GROW Project To Karamoja Sub-Region :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Gender Ministry Extends GROW Project To Karamoja Sub-Region

The GROW project running for five years and implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development was launched in Kampala in June 2023. However, the ministry has extended the project to cover up to all nine districts of the Karamoja sub-region. The approximately 8.05 billion Ugandan shillings World Bank-funded project targets 35000 micro and 4000 small women enterprises expected to have transitioned to small and medium enterprises respectively by the time of closure in 2027.
Karamoja women entrepreneurs during GROW project launch on wednesday in Moroto district

Audio 5

The government of Uganda has extended the Generating Growth Opportunities and Productivity for Women (GROW) project to benefit women entrepreneurs in the Karamoja sub-region.

The GROW project running for five years and implemented by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development was launched in Kampala in June 2023. However, the ministry has extended the project to cover all nine districts of the Karamoja sub-region.

The approximately 8.05 billion Ugandan shillings World Bank-funded project targets 35000 micro and 4000 small women enterprises expected to have transitioned to small and medium enterprises respectively by the time of closure in 2027.

Fred Ngabirano, the commissioner in charge of youth and Children's Affairs at the Ministry of Gender said that more women in Uganda are vulnerable because of the gender biases rising from the traditional and cultural norms. 

Ngabirano says that the project responds to women entrepreneurs' need to grow their businesses, sustain self-employment, and create more jobs. He says noted that the project will increase access to services that enhance the transition of female-owned businesses from Micro to small and small to medium enterprises.

Ngabirano urged that the grant is non-extendable and that the stakeholders should step up efforts to deliver within the strict timelines. He also warned district officials against extorting money from beneficiaries, a practice he said has been common with other government programs.

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Esther Anyakun, the State Minister for Gender, Labour, and Social Development said that they are working together with the district officials to identify the women who are already in the entrepreneur per district.

Anyakun noted that although women have been benefiting from other government  programs, this one is unique and will benefit every woman in the region. She observed that insecurity has been frustrating government programs and the Growth project has a higher chance of progressing because of the relative peace experienced in the region.

She noted that the Grow project has come at the right time when the region is realizing peace and now concentrating on development programs.

Anyakun noted that women have not been able to progress in government programs such as the Parish Development Model and Emyooga because of insecurity. She rallied local leaders to support the women in the process of acquiring money from the banks and sensitizing them in financial management.

She urged women with more land to invest in mechanized agriculture to boost food production.

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Anna Namiti, a community mobilizer in Amudat district said that the coming of the project is a blessing because it will help bring about a positive change.

She noted that this kind of project would help women support their households and discourage the husbands from returning to the raids for livelihood. Namiti said that this project will also help them to educate their children using the money they will be generating from the businesses.

Namiti noted that women are very committed in business but their efforts are always frustrated by limited resources.

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Mary Nachap, a mayor of Moroto municipality appreciated the project stating that it is only focusing on already existing businesses. Nachap urged her fellow women to take up the opportunity to transform their livelihoods and develop households.

Nachap noted that many times government programs have been failing because beneficiaries are given money to start businesses without proper assessment carried out. She said that this project will help boost their businesses and they are ready to transform through the Grow grants.

Rose Lily Akello, the State Minister for Ethics and Integrity who also doubles as the woman Member of Parliament for Karenga district said that they mobilizing women to embrace the program and make the best use of it.

Akello said that Karamoja should be able to have a businesswoman under GROW doing processing and adding value addition. She noted that the women should also consider investing in craft business to tap money from the tourists who visit the region.

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Meanwhile, a section of local leaders have questioned the criteria used for selecting the beneficiaries and the preparatory processes of the entrepreneurs.

Margret Aleper, the women Member of Parliament for Kotido district said that women shall be able to fit the economy at the national level if the project is handled well.

Aleper notes that many programs have failed due to a lack of commitment by the beneficiaries and the mafias who have kept frustrating government projects. She expressed her disappointment over the selection criteria for the women entrepreneurs stating that genuine beneficiaries were left out. She also noted that leaders were not involved in the selection process and yet they are the best who know the best enterprises.

Stella Atyang, the Woman Member of Parliament for Moroto district said that there is a need to vet the list of beneficiaries because the criteria were not clear. She shared the same frustration saying that the list of beneficiaries contained mainly the relatives.

Atyang said there should be equal numbers across all the districts with a minimum of at least 5-6 entrepreneurs.

Atyang urged the ministry not to consider the first list generated but instead to take time to verify and ensure they are taking the right beneficiaries.

She also noted that the entrepreneur should also be taken through financial management training to avoid misuse of the money.

Norman Ochero, the Member of Parliament for Labwor County in Abim district warned people never to get excited and instead plan for better means of progressing in the project. He said that the country has got many projects aimed at transforming people's lives but they have remained poor.

Ochero noted that the people who get money suddenly have failed to progress in the government programs because it finds when they are not prepared.

He highlighted that programs such as Emyooga and others have met challenges in the implementation due to a lack of preparations among the beneficiaries.

Ochero urged the government to consider involving beneficiaries in the early stages of preparations for the project so that they can plan accordingly.

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