Ugandan women, like their counterparts in the rest of the world are increasingly rising up to beat the odds in the male dominated job and enterprise arena to take their places in history books as achievers in various categories.
These women entrepreneurs represent the spectrum of micro to high growth business, from supporting life to creating wealth. They include the professional women, hair salon owners, high tech visionaries, policy makers among others, all making critical economic contributions.
In recognition of Ugandan Women, MTN on 21 March 2014, held a special Women’s Day Panel discussion under the theme ‘Work life balance – Getting more Women into the real economy.’
This year’s panel was moderated by the Managing Director for NTV Uganda, Aggie Konde. The panelists included Judith Namugenyi – MTN General Manager Business Risk Management, Josephine Okot, Victoria Seeds Limited Managing Director, Julian Omalla, Founder Delight Uganda Limited and Ruth Sebatindiira, President Uganda Law Society.
Speaking at the event, MTN Uganda’s Senior Manager of Enterprise, Ms. Hazel Twesigye, said since its inception in 1998 MTN Uganda created a stable platform for business to prosper and have created a diversified employee and partner base in Uganda which represents many women previously excluded from the real economy. MTN’s services have changed the way businesses run and among the key beneficiaries are women who have broken all barriers and ceased the opportunity to rise and shine in business and the corporate world.
“MTN Uganda acknowledges the importance of Ugandan women in both the social and economic development of the country. This year, as the rest of the world celebrated the annual International Women’s Day, we thought it best to again give Ugandan women entrepreneurs the opportunity to network and dialogue. We invited business and corporate women from different spheres to engage in a panel discussion and in so doing to act as motivation.” said Twesigye.
Through its leadership position, MTN Uganda employs and supports in excess of 500,000 people both directly and indirectly and a large number of these individuals are women that partner with MTN through its Distribution Network, Mobile Money Service and MTN Business partnerships.
MTN Uganda’s CEO, Mazen Mroué emphasized the role played by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) adding that the latest statistics show that SMEs have increasingly become one of the Uganda’s leading drivers of the economic growth with over 60% of the countries revenue being generated by this important group; this means that SMEs are a formidable catalyst for development.
At the end of the night, MTN’s “Women In Business Awards” highlighted and honored Uganda women leaders who are making a difference through innovation and inspiration in their respective industry sectors. This innovation and inspiration also stretches to the corridors of government and public sector excellence.
“As we celebrate these special Ugandan women, our hope is that many other Ugandan woman will be inspired to achieve greatness with the knowledge that greatness can be achieved no matter the circumstances,” said Mroué.
The panel of judges was made up of some distinguished members of the business community and key stakeholders who included Charles Mbire, Chairman MTN Uganda, Dr Maggie Kigozi, Member of the Board of Directors Crown Beverages Limited, Dr Gudula Basaza, Chairperson Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Limited (UWEAL), Amos Wekesa, Founder and Managing Director Great Lakes Safaris and Josephine Kabaga Magulu, Head Private Banking Stanbic Bank.
The Award categories and the winners were:
CEO of the Year
Jennifer Mwijukye – Unifreight Uganda
Business Woman of the Year
Josephine Okot – Victoria Seeds
Science and Technology Award of the Year
Dr Elizabeth Zikusoka Kalema – Wildlife Conservationist
Public Sector Excellence Award of the Year
Rebecca Kadaga – Speaker Parliament of Uganda
Young Entrepreneur of the Year
Christine Amperie – MafutaGo App Developer
Lifetime Achievement Award
The event was also graced by the Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Maria Karooro Okurut who thanked MTN Uganda for its consistent support of development initiatives and rallying behind women.
She highlighted the fact that Women entrepreneurs in Uganda are increasingly excelling and competing with their male counterparts by diversifying into areas that were previously male dominated.
“I am a strong believer that Women are the backbone of any economy. They say that ‘If you educate a woman, you educate a nation’. That is why initiatives such as the MTN Women in Business panel discussion and Awards are much welcomed by the Government of Uganda.”