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Empowering women entrepreneurs: a practical approach in Uganda

Karen Kammeraat
March 21, 2024

I recently had an inspiring conversation with Hadijah Nankanja, the visionary behind Community Women's Enterprise Network (CWEN) in Uganda. CWEN stands out among entrepreneurship support organizations by adopting a refreshingly practical approach to empowering women entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector. Their impactful model deserves recognition and dissemination.

Instead of conventional workshops and trainings, CWEN offers tangible solutions. They provide women with a processing space where they can transform their agricultural produce into value-added products such as flour, beverages, snacks, spices, and beauty items. By training youth as extension quality controllers, CWEN ensures affordable technical support for agri-processing entrepreneurs, fostering hands-on learning and economic independence.

Moreover, CWEN facilitates access to cost-effective packaging by purchasing in bulk and reselling to its members. This initiative significantly lowers expenses, enabling women entrepreneurs to allocate resources more efficiently.

But CWEN doesn't stop there! They've established both physical and online retail spaces, empowering women to showcase and sell their products. This also serves as a space where the women are prepared to get ready for selling their products in leading local and regional stores. They learn how to do administration and finances and everything else that is expected by the bigger supermarkets. Dubbed 'Women on the Shelf,' this program empowers women to navigate the complexities of retail administration, ensuring their sustainable growth.

The practical support offered by CWEN fills a crucial gap in the entrepreneurship landscape of emerging economies. It's a model worth consideration by business development service providers, incubators, and accelerators. By offering hands-on guidance and support, we can break down barriers for SME entrepreneurs, particularly women, and foster a more inclusive and vibrant business ecosystem.

Let's join forces to champion practical solutions and empower women entrepreneurs worldwide!