Urgent Action Fund-Africa is excited to announce its first catalytic and advocacy call for proposals! Through this special call, UAF-Africa will be providing funding for a range of initiatives aimed at advancing women’s economic empowerment in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda with grants of up to USD 20,000 for up to nine months!
Pursuing Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE)
Women face unique economic challenges and therefore require support which is responsive to their specific challenges and needs
Women’s unequal access to/control of resources and economic opportunities, in addition to socio-political and economic contexts which discriminate against women, entrenches and sustains gender inequality. Inequality in the economic sphere, which leads to the lack of financial independence, directly contributes to inequality in other spheres of women’s lives. Therefore, women’s economic empowerment is a critical area for addressing women’s practical and strategic interests.
Despite having comparably advanced constitutions and legal redress systems, many women in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya still struggle with access to equal opportunity and ownership of assets. Women, particularly those who run small and medium informal and formal businesses in rural, peri-urban and urban areas lead different economic lives to men and the inequalities in economic systems and structures at small and medium business levels has limited their ability to fully participate in and profit from the economy.
For instance, women in rural areas who rely on farming/agribusiness often do not have control of or ownership of land which negatively affects their income and the sustainability of their businesses, while in peri-urban and urban areas, small-scale vendors (a majority of whom are women) such as street vendors are excluded in urban planning and development initiatives; limiting their ability to successfully run their businesses. African governments’ initiatives to increase economic opportunities and activity often do not take into consideration the unique realities and challenges faced by women, particularly for small and medium (both informal and formal) businesses. Addressing the constraints to women’s economic empowerment is fundamental to lasting, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, poverty reduction, food security and to the achievement of gender equality.
Urgent Action Fund – Africa (UAF – Africa) believes that when women have equal access to resources, opportunities, markets and innovations they are able to increase and leverage their intellectual, social, political and economic capital, fuelling their progress towards financial independence. To facilitate this access; advocacy, awareness raising, capacity building
and financial education are essential. This belief is why UAF-Africa has identified Economic Justice as one of its five priority areas. The prioritisation of Economic Justice has informed the mobilisation and allocation of funding specifically for women’s economic empowerment in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
The purpose of this special call is to provide financial support to women’s rights organisations and collectives in order to catalyse women’s active participation towards economic empowerment through initiatives tailored at addressing the specific economic challenges faced by women running small and medium sized (informal and formal) businesses in the rural, peri-urban and urban areas of Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. It is our hope that this grant will support women to seize opportunities for sustained activism, increase women’s engagement in economic empowerment discourses, and enhance public awareness on issues that have an impact on women’s economic empowerment and in turn, gender equality.
To learn more about our work, see our
Details about the WEE grants
UAF – Africa believes in the power of women to activate change and therefore has created this special call to provide financial support to women-led organisations, cooperatives, groups and collectives in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. This initiative will provide Rapid Response Grants and Advocacy and Alliance Building grants to collectives/organisations working to:
• Advance women’s economic empowerment, through advocacy for better and gender sensitive fiscal and financial policies at national and institutional levels;
• Increasing women’s voice in decisions concerning the economic terrain;
• Challenging inequitable distribution of resources and improving opportunities for women to acquire, utilise, add value to and gain value from assets and investments.
UAF-Africa is offering two types of grants:
Rapid- Response Grants (RRGs) – Grant Amount: up to USD 12, 000.
Grant Period: The grant is for time-sensitive situations, activities should be carried out within 3 months
Advocacy and Alliance Building Grants – Grant Amount: up to USD 20, 000.
Grant Period: This grant is to support advocacy activities with policy makers, traditional leaders to influence decision making regarding the implementation of laws. These activities are more long-term and can take place within a 6 – 9 month period.
The main difference between the grants other than the grant amount and period is that Advocacy and Alliance Building Grants specifically support strategic initiatives which entail more planning and collaboration and respond to more complex and nuanced issues, for example movement strengthening, leadership development and capacity building.
Who can apply?
Informal and formal, small / medium women-led organisations, groups, cooperatives or collectives in rural, peri-urban and urban areas of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, such as (but not limited to):
• women’s rights organizations
• associations of women with formal businesses
• associations of women with informal businesses
• women’s self-help groups
• women’s collectives
• women’s cooperatives
All organisations/collectives must fit the following criteria:
• based in Kenya, Uganda or Tanzania
• led by women who are part of the initiative
• have a majority (at least 70%) of women members or staff/board with women holding positions of power and authority
• committed to gender equality
• the project/initiative to be carried out within 3 months for Rapid Response Grants and 6 -9 months for Advocacy and Alliance Building Grants
• for informal organisations or collectives, the group should be made up of at least 10 members
Please Note: For-profit organisations, individuals, political parties or government bodies are NOT eligible for funding.
What can you do with the grant?
The grant must aim at influencing the implementation of relevant policies, programmes and processes around; land tenure and ownership for grassroots women, market tools and opportunities available for advancing financial inclusion and strategic communication on WEE. It may also be used for a range of activities/initiatives which advocate for or facilitate the following:
• inclusive market infrastructure development
• increasing women owned enterprises’ productivity
• inclusion of informal enterprises in local development
• response to emerging issues pertaining to land access and ownership
• access to market opportunities
• holistic security, safety and well-being for the women and activists championing WEE
• mobilising and sustaining movements and coalitions that support WEE for strategic engagement
• capacity development/organisational development support for emerging WEE organisations
• women’s engagement in economic discourse and decision making
• safeguarding and defending resources and opportunities
• an enabling environment for WEE
• advocacy work towards policymakers, traditional leaders to influence their decision making regarding the implementation of laws
• knowledge products production on issues of economic injustices, market opportunities pertaining to women’s market
• access and economic prospects (through blog pieces, workshop reports, newspaper articles and media OpEds)
• media engagement for radio TV programs to speak about WEE experiences and lessons learned
What can you not do with the grant?
• Profit-making/income-generating projects
• Microfinance or grantmaking
• Purchasing of buildings/land or construction
• Capital Expenditure
• Lobbying (see below what lobbying refers to)
Lobbying refers to communication with government officials or employees who may participate in the formulation of legislation, calls to action which encourage people to share views with government officials, and expressing views on legislative proposals
Applications that do not fit the basic criteria will not be considered or reviewed. If you are unsure if you fit within this criteria, please take a look at our Special Call for Proposals FAQ’s below.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Our collective/organisation has members who are men – can we still apply for a grant?
You are only eligible to apply if a majority of the members of your group (at least 70%) identify as women and the organisation/collective must be women-led with women holding decision making positions.
2. A small portion of the funds we are applying for will be used for a profit making initiative, can we apply?
No, none of the funds from this special call for proposals may be used for profit-making or income-generating initiatives.
3. Our organisation is NOT based in Kenya, Uganda or Tanzania but implements projects in one of these countries; can we apply?
No, part of UAF-Africa’s commitment is to encourage locally-led initiatives.
4. What language can we apply in?
The application form is available in both English and Kiswahili.
5. Can we apply for more than one grant?
No, you may only apply for either a Rapid Response Grant of up to USD 12 000 or
Advocacy and Alliance Building (AAB) grants of up to USD 20 000, but not both.
6. Do we need to be a legally registered organisation or collective in order to apply?
No, you do not need to be a legally registered organisation or collective in order to apply. We accept and encourage applications from non-registered collectives or groups. We fund both informal and formal organisations. For non-registered groups, it is important to have a registered group that can be a fiscal sponsor (taking care of your finances and reporting obligations).
7. Can I apply as an individual?
No, we are currently accepting applications from groups or organisations. The group must have at least 10 members to be eligible to receive a grant.
8. We have applied to UAF – Africa before, can we apply for a grant in this special grant?
Yes, former applicants and grantees may apply if their proposed project/initiative fits within the criteria of this call for proposals and after submission of the interim report for the previous grants.
9. Can we use the funds for lobbying?
No. Lobbying refers to communication with government officials or employees who may participate in the formulation of legislation, calls to action which encourage people to share views with government officials, and expressing views on legislative proposals.
10. How long will it take for UAF – Africa to action our application once it is submitted?
Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis, and the review process will not be more than two weeks from the date an application is submitted.
If you are still unsure if you fit the criteria to apply for funding or have any other questions please contact UAF-Africa by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line WEE questions.