Minister Mukwaya (middle) launching the fund

Standard Chartered Bank in partnership with BRAC Uganda has launched a girl child empowerment fund of US $113,000 (Shs420m) through the Goal programme aimed at further empowering girls with business start-ups.

The fund was launched by the Minister of Gender, Janat Mukwaya at Sheraton Kampala Hotel during the event attended by clients of the Bank, BRAC Management and staff, staff of the Bank, meida as well as the girls who have benefited from the fund since it was launched.

Last year, the bank launched a pilot on empowerment by adding a module on entrepreneurship where it provided 250 girls with start-up kits and financial education to out of school girls with the aim of making them financially independent.

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“The success of this pilot is what has informed our decision to invest a further Shs420 million in supporting 250 girls in business start-ups and the up-skilling of 3,000 girl entrepreneurs with Financial Education,” according to officials.

While explaining the Goal project to the guests, the Country Representative BRAC Uganda, Ms. Hasina Akhter said that the intervention was necessary and timely as Uganda is witnessing increasing numbers of adolescent girls who are forced to leave school to look after their families, are married off or are compelled to engage in hazardous working environments because of the poverty their families are facing.

“There are so many secondary school-age children remaining out of school in Uganda and increasing numbers are being married before the age of 18 – this poses a serious threat to their lives, health and future prospects,” Ms Akhter said.

While addressing guests, Standard Chartered Bank’s CEO, Albert R. Saltson said educating girls and giving them the tools to shape their own future has an incredible multiplier effect on economic growth.
“Educated women are healthier, as are their children, who are more likely to attend school and study. Investing in girls can result in increased prosperity and diversity. We recognise that gender equality is critical to economic growth,” Saltson said.

Research, he said, has shown that countries around the world could achieve gender parity and global annual GDP could increase by as much as $12 trillion by 2025. Gender equality is directly correlated with stronger national competitiveness.

“Many of the markets where we have our footprint have low levels of gender equality; we are, therefore, uniquely positioned to help facilitate gender parity and tackle some of the factors preventing women from achieving gender parity in the labour market including lack of education, disease, cultural bias, gender-based violence and poverty.” he said.

Saltson further said that research demonstrates one of the most impact ways to enable women and facilitate economic equality is to ensure equal access to education. Countries with more equal education have on average a 23 per cent greater income per capita.

Standard Chartered Bank’s decision to implement the Goal project is as a result of the urgent need to address issues affecting adolescent girls in Uganda, said the official.

Goal supports girls to take their first steps as leaders in their families, communities and economies, he said.
Goal is a sport-for-development programme that provides financial literacy and life skills training to adolescent girls. Through a combination of sports and life skills training, Goal aims to empower and equip adolescent girls with the confidence, knowledge, and skills they need to be integral economic leaders in their families, communities, and societies.

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