Empowering Women, Shaping the Future of Banking and Finance

by Business Times
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The Uganda Institute of Banking and Financial Services (UIBFS), in partnership with the Uganda Bankers’ Association and the Women Economic Empowerment Initiative, hosted over 200 women at the Women in Banking and Finance Conference on June 21, 2024, at Sheraton Hotel Kampala, Uganda. The event was dedicated to celebrating, empowering, and advancing women across all levels of the banking and financial sector.

Under the theme “Empowering Women, Shaping the Future of Banking & Finance,” the conference provided a platform for networking, knowledge exchange, and professional development, focusing on fostering inclusivity and addressing the unique challenges faced by women in the industry.

Keynote speaker, Hon. Maria Kiwanuka, Board Chairperson and Independent Non-Executive Director at Standard Chartered Bank Uganda

The conference was graced by the presence of Hon. Maria Kiwanuka, Board Chairperson and Independent Non-Executive Director at Standard Chartered Bank Uganda, who delivered the keynote address on “The Role of Women in Banking.”

“The role of women in banking and finance has significantly evolved over time, reflecting broader social and economic changes. In Uganda, over 52% of roles in banking and finance are now held by women. Out of the 186 board members in financial institutions, 58 are female, with only 7 serving as Board Chairpersons. Our role as women should be to ensure adequate representation by training women to take up leadership positions, sponsoring and supporting other women to ascend to top positions. We need to increase women’s participation in the labor force, enhance earnings, ensure access to productive assets, and eliminate gender bias and discrimination,” she emphasized.

During the event, the Uganda Institute of Banking and Financial Services, represented by CEO Mrs. Goretti Masadde, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Women in Finance Rwanda (WIFR), headed by Ms. Lina Higiro, CEO of NCBA Rwanda and Founding Chair of WIFR. This MOU aims to offer specialized Credit and Microfinance Training in Rwanda, including courses such as Certified Credit Management, Diploma in Microfinance, Agribusiness Credit Risk Assessment, and Agricultural Value Chain Financing.

“Events like these are not just important; they are essential. They provide a platform for women to connect, share, and learn from each other. They highlight the challenges we face and the opportunities we can seize. They empower us to break barriers, shatter glass ceilings, and redefine what is possible in the banking and finance industry,” she said.

This partnership will foster regional collaboration, encourage knowledge and technology transfer across the banking and financial sectors of Uganda and Rwanda, and make these courses more accessible to women in Rwanda, thus narrowing the skills gap in their banking sector, especially in the Credit Function.

“The bigger picture for women in our industry is one of inclusion, leadership, and innovation. It is about creating an environment where women are not just participants but also leaders and changemakers. It is about ensuring that our voices are heard, our contributions are valued, and our potential is fully realized. That is why we plan on making this conference an annual event!” she added.

Speaking at the event, UIBFS Board Chairperson Mr. Michael Mugabi reiterated the institute’s dedication to advancing the banking and financial services industry through innovative training and development. This will be accomplished through its comprehensive five-year strategic plan aimed at positioning the institute as a financially independent and multifaceted training hub.

“Looking ahead to 2024, we are excited about the opportunities that lie before us. A key focus will be the digitization of our courses and processes, aimed at providing our students with a broader range of convenient and accessible options,” he said. “Innovation will drive the introduction of new courses, leveraging our strategic partnerships to ensure that we remain at the forefront of industry developments. Central to our future plans is the integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) principles and sustainability at the core of all our organizational processes. These initiatives are not only aligned with global trends but also reflect our commitment to responsible and ethical practices in the financial sector.” He concluded.

Topics Covered during the event included:

  • Breaking the Barriers: Strategies for Advancing to Senior Leadership Positions
  • Personal Branding
  • Combatting Gender Bias and Stereotypes in Banking
  • Navigating Organizational Politics and Advocating for Change
  • Navigating Through Change: Building Resilience & Adapting with Agility
  • Supporting Women’s Empowerment Through Green Policies and Finance
  • The Role of Mentorship and Career Sponsorship in Career Development
  • Building a Community of Empowered Women in Technology and Digital Financial Services
  • The Power of Vision Boards

Panel Discussions

The event was structured into three dynamic panels, each discussing the different topics highlighted above.

Panel One: Moderated by Mrs. Goretti Masadde, CEO, UIBFS, featuring:

Ms. Lina Higiro, CEO, NCBA Rwanda

Ms. Njeri Jomo, CEO and Principal Officer, Jubilee Health Insurance Kenya

Ms. Colleta Nduguru, Chief of Staff, Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank

Ms. Sarah Arapta, CEO, Citibank Uganda

Panel Two: Moderated by Ms. Beatrice Lugalambi, General Manager, Corporate Communications and Marketing, Centenary Bank, with speakers including:

Ms. Chioma Mang, MD, United Bank for Africa (UBA)

Ms. Grace Muliisa, MD, Ecobank Uganda

Ms. Sylvia Jagwe Owachi, ED, Cairo Bank

Ms. Veronicah Namagembe, MD, Pride Microfinance

Panel Three: Moderated by Ms. Patricia Amito Lutwama, Head Communications and Corporate Affairs, Uganda Bankers’ Association, with speakers including:

Ms. Josephine Olok, Board Chairperson, FITSPA

Ms. Jacqueline Mbabazi, ED, AMFIU

Mr. Joseph Kibuuka, Head of Fund Management, aBi Finance

Ms. Denise Kekimuri, Founder, Vessel is Me Project
The CEO, Mrs. Goretti Masadde extended her gratitude towards the sponsors for making this conference possible. These were:

Gold Sponsors.

ABSA
Centenary Bank
DTB
UBA Bank

Silver Members

FINCA, KCB, Opportunity Bank, NCBA, Pride Microfinance, Cairo Bank, Financial Intelligence Authority, Insurance Training College, Bank of Baroda, Finance Trust Bank

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