Women Mean Business
In Nabumali Parish in Nyondo Sub-county, 15 km south east of Mbale town, PONT’s partners have set up 5 new self-help groups, each with 30 members. The groups come together every Thursday to pay in savings and take out loans.
These meet-ups are also a chance for local staff to share training with the communities. As well as topics such as nutrition, sanitation and human rights, the members have learned record keeping, leadership skills, and how to identify and develop an Income Generating Activity (IGA).
The groups recently reported that due to the skills obtained 65% of their members are running small scale businesses.
Grace has invested in her bar business. She’s been saving 1,000 to 5,000 UGX each week (around 20p to £1) so she was able to borrow from her group and she bought a television set and musical instruments to entertain her customers. With this she has doubled her trade: “From 30 people I now get at least 60 people per day .” Grace had suffered a lot of losses through bank loans before she joined this group and she appreciates being able to lend and borrow with her neighbours. She says “I’m happy with what is going on.”
Oliver’s business is a new venture: “With a loan of 50,000UGX (£10) which I got from the group savings, I started a business of making Mandazi (doughnuts) and Malwa (a local brew). I always get 10,000UGX (£2) per day so in a week I’m able to save 5,000UGX (£1).
Her namesake Oliver M buys and sells vegetables and silver fish and also has a stone quarry. Through the group savings, her business has grown. She took an initial loan of around £20 from her group to grow her capital but now she is able to sustain herself – “I get money from the quarry to put in the vegetable project or vice versa whenever there is need.” She still saves 2,000 – 3,000 UGX (about 40-60p) each week with her group.
The women are all mothers: Grace (42) is married with three children, Oliver W (46) and her husband have four, while Oliver M (50) also has four children, raising them as a single mother.
Saving and borrowing, growing their own businesses, has enabled them to provide for their families’ immediate needs and even invest in their futures. They speak with pride of their achievements so far.
Out of my profits I have bought a big goat, a piglet, and 35 chickens. When these reproduce I will become a rich woman! I’m able to pay fees for the children in school and provide all the scholastic materials. I have bought 15 kg of beans ready to plant for the new season.
Through this business I was able to complete the payment of fees for my daughter’s course in Nursery Teaching. I bought 4 birds to start a poultry project.
I have gained a lot: I bought a goat which is about to give birth, I have started constructing a two bed-roomed house for my family, I pay school fees for my children, and I can afford all I need to look after my family.
In an area where so many struggle for everyday needs, that’s quite a claim! Though harvests can be unpredictable, investing in their small farms and businesses and having the support of the group makes these women and their families more resilient to the ups and downs of the dry and rainy seasons. Educating their children is an investment in their future – and with Oliver’s daughter training as a teacher the impact will just keep rippling!
It’s no wonder the women are enthusiastic about the project.
Grace says “I encourage my group members to find an income generating activity to do, so that they can enjoy the idea of saving together. We have been taught a lot of things that will not leave my life the same. I’m proud to be part of this group.”
Oliver Wangalwa values the social aspect of the group: “While here in our meetings I get the opportunity to relax and have fun which I cannot get at home.”
Oliver Malemo simply says “I thank God for these women.”