In 2008, KCIU began a microfinance loan program. KCIU's initial work with children affected by the loss of parents to the war or AIDS soon branched to helping mothers. They educated themselves on business, farming, handicrafts, and other activities. Small revolving loans were distributed. Loans are given to develop businesses to increase livelihood for the women and their families. The women continue to meet 2 times per month to share ideas, network and support each other.
KCIU is working with the most vulnerable. In 2016 poverty rates in Gulu were 72% (Gulu District Statistic Abstract, 2012-13). The unemployment rate for youth is over 60%. Villagers seek by on mere pennies a day. When challenges hit, such as medical needs, they have no savings. They are living on the edge. Yet, with small loans, stories of resilience abound.
KCIU works with community members to develop skills in running a business. Small loans are made to groups of 5 women, so they provide security for each other. Repayment is expected after a short time. The Chairperson and the Treasurer provide over sight to ensure repayment. The loan coordinator provides over sight for monitoring and repayment in the local villages. Loans are typically under $100 US and are able to create livelihood and change their lives and those of their families.
Teaching people to rely on their own ingenuity, with small investments, rather than continuing to provide handouts will yield huge results. Women, previously unable to provide for their families will be able to operate small businesses, increasing their family's income and developing self-sufficiency. Microfinance programs have been successful in the developing world; they have already been successful in Gulu. We need more resources to increase our ability to reach and create more entrepreneurs.