ARUA. The manager of the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP) Mr William Tumwine has said the deliberate delays, extortion and fraudulent acts by lower local governments is slowing the progress of the program.

Rolled under the ministry of gender labor and social development 3 years ago, the program among others sought to raise the standards of vulnerable women between the ages 18 and 65; Others in line to benefit from the government of Uganda sponsored program are those self employed or totally unemployed women, victims of gender based violence, young mothers and the disabled.

Mr Tumwine said despite being more in population than their male counterparts, research had shown that women had limited access to credits, lacked the adequate knowledge and skills, and most of them were operating in their local markets.

He was addressing regional leaders during a stakeholders review meeting on Tuesday in Arua; he noted that despite its clear objectives of raising the standards of women through opening up of business opportunities, the program had had setbacks as a result of the bad practices from some local leaders.

“In one incidence, a town clerk asked the women group to produce 3 invoices from the firewood seller, while some of the Chief administrative officers (CAO’s) and the chief finance officers say they want to pay suppliers strictly through cheques; how can such be possible for a goat seller who doesn’t even know about a bank account in the village?” he wondered.

He also said there was a general lack of team spirit exhibited in the execution of the projects.

Under the program, which is demand driven, women are formed in groups of 10-15 members, once successful, a period of 3 years is given to recover the loan at 0% in the first 12 months and 5% on the remaining balance for the next two years.

Speaking on the same, Mr Sam Wadri Nyakua, the chairman Arua district local government appealed to the government to increase the funding to women despite the shortcomings.

“In west Nile, women are the managers of homes as the men have resorted to drinking, I even think we would rather increase the funds for the women instead of the youth” Mr Nyakua noted.

He complained of the inadequate trainings given to the women and yet a lot of money is given in their hands.

Nyakua cautioned the ministry of gender team to “listen” to their views as opposed to people of Operation wealth creation (OWC) and NAADS who he described as Fake because they don’t listen.

Ms Joesphine Candiru, from the gender ministry appealed to the community development officers to “step up” their sensitization drives against gender based violence if the entrepreneurial program is to succeed. She emphasized special attention on male involvement in the program to improve family cohesion.

Ms Maureen Atim, the UWEP program officer for Northern Uganda said the program among others seeks to open up women to better markets, provide affordable credit and provide access to appropriate technologies

Participants were told that 5910 groups have had access to the money spread across 163 districts and municipalities.