ABAKYALA KU NTIKKO: How Equity Bank is enabling financial growth in Women-led SMEs

Gulu, (UG):– Equity Bank Uganda Ltd Wednesday hosted its fourth Women’s Month event in Gulu City dubbed Abakyala Ku Ntikko in which the bank celebrates women in business through a series of special events aimed at empowering and enabling women in small-scale businesses to grow and thrive.

Statistics from UBOS show that nearly 40 per cent of small and medium-sized enterprises are owned by women in Uganda. These businesses employ millions of people and support hundreds of households. 

Speaking at the Abakyala ku Ntikko event in Gulu City on Wednesday, March 27, 2024, Ms Elizabeth Mwerinde Kasedde, Executive Director for Public Sector and Social Investments at Equity Bank emphasized the importance of financial independence for women.

She highlighted the challenges women face in managing finances due to multiple responsibilities and systemic barriers such as gender discrimination. 

According to Mwerinde, the Abakyala ku Ntikko event aims to create a platform for women to learn about financial management in business, recording keeping, accounting, and networking. Equity Bank’s commitment to empowering women reflects its dedication to transforming lives, giving dignity, and expanding opportunities for wealth creation.”

“We all know the importance of financial independence for women. It not only gives them the confidence to make their own decisions, but it also allows them to support their families and communities. However, women face unique challenges when it comes to managing their finances. They often have to juggle multiple responsibilities, including their families, businesses, careers and personal lives,” said Ms Mwerinde.

“In addition, they may encounter systemic barriers such as gender discrimination in their various workstations or businesses, which can make it difficult to achieve financial stability,” she added.

Some of the women who turned up for the Abakyala Ku Ntikko event in Gulu City

Laura Bahemuka, Head of Micro Segments at Equity Bank noted that although all the Bank’s products are available to all women, there are special products tailored for the welfare and economic independence of women.

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“If you want to transform lives, you support the women. As a bank, we have some products for children, but when you touch the lives of women, the mother; you have impacted the children and those around her,” she said.

Bahemuka says free financial literacy training has become mandatory for the youth and women. Over 50,000 women have been trained in financial management.

“We realized that it is not good to keep pumping our clients with money without taking them through basics such as saving, budgeting, and loan management. Therefore, we participate in grooming each of them in the management of whatever business one invests in.”

Speaking at the same event, Gulu City Woman MP, Hon Aol Betty Ochan, said, “I urge the ladies present today to always budget and save; this will help break the cycle of poverty. And while you save, it is important to also learn how you can reinvest your money so it can keep growing.”

“Equity Bank has opened up opportunities for women by providing them with a product, the Equi Mama loan, that does not need security to access funding, so I urge the women of the Acholi region to take advantage of this,” she added.

Hon. Aol Betty Ochan, the woman MP for Gulu City speaking at the event

In honour of celebrating Women’s Month, the bank also awarded women customers in different regions during the Abakyala Ku Ntikko events for not only supporting the bank but also being consistent savers and compliant credit customers.

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These awards also serve to encourage women customers to adopt and maintain financial discipline as they continue to strive for financial independence. 

The Abakyala Ku Ntikko event features inspirational speakers, financial literacy training sessions, and exhibitions showcasing products from women customers supported by the Bank. The first of these events kicked off in Kampala on March 6 and proceeded to Fort Portal, Mbale, Gulu, and will conclude in Hoima district on April 12.

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