NEBBI. A section of women from various groups in Nebbi district have openly admitted that they normally share Uganda women entrepreneurship program (UWEP) funds among themselves.
UWEP is an initiative of the government of Uganda that is aimed at improving access to financial services for women and equipping them with skills for enterprise growth, value addition and marketing of their products and services.
UWEP, implemented as a rolling programme under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development is intended to empower Ugandan women for economic development.
But in Nebbi district, women say they share the money advanced to their various groups since it is not enough to change their lives.
Ms Modest Ayerango, the treasurer of Ajoga nyayubodho jacan nindo ongo women group said they applied for shs3.5m under UWEP for buying produce and the money was approved.
But she confessed that on receiving the cash, the group chairperson took her share of shs1.2m and as a group, they also decided to divide the balance among members thus ending up without buying the produce.
“Since our group members were doing different businesses, we realized it was hard for us to come together to undertake one business and neglect our own, a reason we shared the money though after that, most members went in to hiding,” Ayerango narrated.
Ms Grace Ocanda, another UWEP beneficiary in Nebbi Sub County said the women groups are just for formality. She noted that the group names are only used to get the UWEP money and share it thereafter.
Ocanda reaffirmed that after sharing the money, the group members normally end up leaving the village and relocate elsewhere with the aim of dodging repayment.
“A few of us are struggling to recover this UWEP money but most of us have run away with their share. If only there was a stringent law on how to recover the money by involving the police, I think members would get scared to default,” Ocanda said.
When contacted, Mr Paska Manano, the Nebbi district UWEP focal point person admitted that women indeed divide UWEP money among themselves, an act he said has greatly contributed to the poor recovery process.
“In the first batch so far, only two groups out of 13 have recovered their money fully and there is less hope that the remaining groups will pay back the money before the year ends,” Manano doubted.
Meanwhile Mr Geoffrey Okaka, the Nebbi chief administrative officer said most of these groups deviated from the original purpose of the funds and decided to go their own way, a reason they are facing challenges in paying back the money.
Okaka observed that most of the women believe that since its government money, they are at liberty to misuse it and nothing will be done to them.