Empowering Ugandan women through government and corporate procurement

3 June 2013
ITC News

ITC and the Commonwealth Business Council to help build the capacity of women entrepreneurs.

Improving access to information on certification and tendering criteria in Uganda is just one step that will enable businesswomen in the country to compete more successfully for government and corporate contracts, according to experts at the International Trade Centre (ITC). ITC, in partnership with the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), has offered to work with the government of Uganda to build the capacity of women entrepreneurs to make them key players in government and corporate procurement.

Speaking at a recent round-table meeting on Women and Business at the Uganda Investment Forum in Kampala, Kofi Essuman, an ITC Senior Adviser on export value chains, said: ‘With investment comes procurement and we would like to partner with the government of Uganda and the private sector to work on pilot projects in the area of women in public procurement to economically empower women in Uganda.’ Participants at the round-table discussed the challenges and opportunities for Commonwealth and African women in business, which include a lack of women in senior decision-making roles and difficulties in getting access to finance.

Barriers to government procurement

Participants at the forum, which was opened by Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, heard that there are many barriers to government procurement from Ugandan women, including a lack of access to or knowledge of women vendors sufficiently qualified to service government procurement contracts. It was discussed that there needs to be information and guidance for governments on ‘best practice’ methods for implementing procurement policies promoting participation of business women, and advocacy at the legislative level to introduce the concept of preferential procurement. Studies show that for every 50 bids for one large government contract in Uganda, less than five are tendered by women.

With the support of the Government of Uganda, ITC is already working to empower women in the coffee sector in Uganda, in cooperation with the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, which has established a Ugandan Chapter. The Global Platform on Sourcing from Women Vendors is also increasing women business owners’ share of corporate, government and institutional procurement.