Luweero Women Plan for Business Expansion
By Agnes Akoth
A two day needs assessment and planning session was held at the EASSI Training Centre on September 7 -8, 2018, for the five best performing groups under the Women’s Economic Justice (WEJ) Project implemented in Luweero District by EASSI, NAWOU and FIDA-U. The training was supported by the Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS), with funding from Norwegian Agency for Development (NORAD) and The Kavli Trust. The assessment was aimed at identifying the business needs of the five groups based in Luweero district in order to facilitate them to develop action plans upon which they would base their operations in the next four years.
At the opening of the training, the EASSI Executive Director, Hon. Sheila Kawamara Mishambi emphasised the importance of women identifying their own needs and planning together in order to maximise their potential, resources and opportunities. She encouraged the women in the five groups to produce quality and value added products in order to fetch higher prices and also penetrate into the regional and international markets. “With quality products, EASSI will help to link your groups to national and regional markets and also enable you expand your businesses”, she said.
Among the needs identified by the women during the group work sessions included; securing better equipment and technology to improve their production, since most of them used manual and obsolete methods of production. They also noted the hindrances in accessing financial support in order to expand their scale of production. The dire need for market linkages, accessing quality seeds for production and mentorship in leadership, governance and business management were highlighted as major obstacle to their business expansion.
In their action plans, the women decided that they would work with different stakeholders at the district and national level in order to advocate for the women’s fund at the district and in the Ministries of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives and that of Gender, Labour and Social Development so as to facilitate group businesses. In addition, the members of each group would contribute financially to the activities of the group, as well as engage in intergroup learning and exchange visits to successful groups in other parts of the country so as to learn from their experiences.
The groups that are involved in the production of crafts, wine, soft drinks, agricultural produce such as cereals, mushrooms and yellow potatoes, aspire to break through into the East African regional markets where they can take advantage of the opportunities availed by the EAC Common Market. The training was facilitated by Ms. Beatrice Mukasa who is a lecturer at Makerere University in Kampala and also an adult trainer.