MTN launches initiative to empower women in technology

According to the World Bank, on average, women-owned micro enterprises in Uganda generate 30 per cent lower profits than their male counterparts.

Lower levels of innovation, lower use of capital and labour and sector-based sex segregation are all factors associated with women entrepreneurs’ poorer business outcomes relative to men in Uganda. Moreover, women enterprise owners in Uganda also use 41 per cent fewer hours of labour, have 50 per cent less capital and are 37 per cent less likely to have introduced a new product over the previous 12 months compared with men.

Telecommunications company MTN Uganda is therefore leading an initiative aimed at empowering women led enterprises in the technology sector. This project known as the Advancing Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) aspires to usher in a new era of improved business ownership, enriched diversity and enhanced equality in the supply chain.

It seeks to champion women participation and commendable contributions to the thriving tech industry. During the launch of the project at the MTN headquarters in Kampala, Sylvia Mulinge, MTN Uganda chief executive officer aptly stated that they are determined to increase the local spend on women entrepreneurs participating in the top spend categories in the telecom industry, support financial sustenance and build an inclusive market-oriented platform that supports and attracts women entrepreneurs.

“The goal of the AWE project is ambitious yet achievable. Our vision is to have 250 women suppliers by 2025, with the aim of on boarding 50 women by the end of this year.  MTN Uganda will be investing $4 million (Shs 15 billion) into this project because we recognize that women entrepreneurs possess immense potential and by inviting them to join our supply chain, we intend to empower them, promote diversity and fortify the technology sector in Uganda,” Mulinge said.

To implement the project, MTN Uganda is collaborating with a consortium of strategic partners. MTN and MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) will oversee the expression of interest process, ensure women’s participation in request for proposals and offer comprehensive training and financial support.

The American Tower Corporation (ATC) will provide business opportunities and assist in candidate selection, while UN Women will raise awareness and strengthen partnerships. Additionally, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), dfcu bank and Innovation Village will promote entrepreneurship, provide mentorship and offer financial support while NSSF Hi Innovators will offer brand support and financing. 

Ademi Ndieli, the deputy country representative of UN Women noted that less than one per cent of women in Uganda have access to public procurement opportunities and if that number is to be boosted, there is need to leverage on an organization that has access to women at the highest and lowest levels.

”Only 19 per cent of women in Uganda have access to digital spaces compared to 27 percent of men. But for us to be able to arrive at any significant progress, we need affirmative action by identifying what we can do to ensure that we put in place special measures that can put women ahead in accessing digital opportunities,” Ndieli said.    

To participate in the AWE initiative, women entrepreneurs must exhibit at least 50 per cent ownership by women either wholly or through a majority shareholding, the applying company should demonstrate an annual revenue of a minimum of Shs 60 million, the company must be locally registered and have been in operation for at least one year, applicants are required to possess a valid tax compliance certificate and the applying company should boast actively managed and women-led operations.

Expression of interest is mainly welcome from women entrepreneurs involved in businesses such as IT equipment and related services, network services, digital services, facility management services and commercial products and services. Women entrepreneurs who meet the eligibility criteria are encouraged to apply for the program via the MTN Uganda website before October 31, 2023.

Source: The Observer

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