Successful female entrepreneurs in Uganda have shared their success stories with the aim of inspiring fellow women to break through barriers in a male dominated private sector.
At the "Breaking the mold: inspiring female youth leaders" forum organized by the Feed the Future, an American government funded initiative aimed at unlocking youth potential, several female entrepreneurs shared their stories about how they found it tough venturing into the private sector.
The forum brought together approximately 200 participants who were predominantly female entrepreneurs in agriculture to gain inspiration from women in various sectors who overcame various obstacles to attain success in their varying fields.
Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde shared about her rise into a celebrated female politician with the love for charity and also her passion for agriculture.
"In a bid to bridge the divide between the privileged and the less privileged, I started the Twezimbe Foundation in 2006 and it was chartered in 2008. When I started doing charity in Mawokota by offering services to the girl child in maternal health, people in my area started wondering why I was doing what I was doing and I met a lot of hurdles along the way," Kyambadde said.
The only way I could actually help these people at a larger scale was by representing their views. That is how i entered politics as a member of parliament." she added.
According to Kyambadde, she met a lot of resistance for leaving a seemingly comfortable job in the government to join politics but her desire to help the people in her community and empower the girl child is what gave her the courage to enter politics.
Key on the agenda was panel sessions on how women have overcome obstacles to succeed in a competitive private sector. One such story is that of Fatuma Namutosi, director at Byeffe Foods Ltd based in Mbale.
She was raised by a single mother who funded her education through agriculture. Namutosi through her mother, derived a passion for agriculture and founded Byeffe Foods in 2015.
It produces nutritious food products mainly from pumpkin mainly for pregnant women and infants who are over 6 months old. Namutosi currently employs 1,280 youth of which 70 per cent are female.
Sheila Alumo, the CEO and founder of Eastern Agricultural Development Company based in Soroti speaks with optimism about how her business has managed to improve the nutrition of the consumers while also enhancing the livelihoods of the smallholder farmers with whom they partner.
"In the areas that we are working in Teso and Karamoja region for instance, malnutrition is at it's highest, poverty is at its highest. So our approach generally is a market systems based approach, we produce, promote, process and package health and nutrition goods for consumption but while we are doing this, we are creating sustainable business opportunities for about 3,500 rural small older farmers," she said.
Alumo also emphasizes that while her workforce is female dominated, they aim to improve the livelihoods of both male and females small holder farmers because it takes both to make a family and that a joint effort would be more effective in effecting a transformation.
Susi Mudge, president and CEO, Chemonics International, thanked the panelists that included URA commissioner general Doris Akol for telling relatable stories which she hoped would reinforce the message that women posses similar or even greater ability to perform duties than men. Mudge is the first female president Chemonics International.