At the shop of the masters of Rubona Baskets
“Young Lady: Good morning, I need to write something and you came on my mind first. I would like to write a letter to the Speaker of Parliament.
Me: About what?
Young Lady: The key issues are:
1) I would like her to offer financial support to the women’s group I have been working with in my home district.
2) I also need some support towards my business. The business is dying and unable to meet customers’ demands.
Me: Shouldn’t you be writing to your District Woman MP?
Young Lady: Haaa. My Woman MP!”
This conversation happened via Facebook Messenger. It is important to note that I have never met face-to-face the young lady who has reached out to me seeking my help to author a letter to the Speaker of Parliament.From how the young lady markets her business on social media, it exists.There is every indication from her social media marketing that she is often unable to meet the demand of have customers, in the sense that her products are good and sell out quick. She needs financial support in form of capital for investment, in order to produce more, but without getting saddled with expensive debt that may instead collapse her business.
First, that she reached out to me pleases me, for it confirms that the impact of CPAR Uganda’s work mentoring young adults into innovators against poverty is appreciated, is recognised and is needed in the communities that we work. Second and equally important, is the learning that we can draw from this exchange. This is a young lady, a university graduate, is not formally employed as her formal education had prepared her to be, but is doing her very best to earn a living for her and her family; and while at the same time, she seeks to help other women in her community.
This young lady’s case is the norm throughout Uganda. This I have realised from my fieldwork travels countrywide, since 1992 when I joined the civil society development arena. The majority of disadvantaged women, and they are many, are doing their best to make a living under very tough situations. Often the help that they need the most is financial support and financial literacy skills.
Majority of Ugandan women are hardworking and work hard at producing multiple things for sale so that they are able to make money to meet the needs of their households. At anyone time, you will find the same woman is engaged in more than one income generating activity – farming crops for sale, rearing animals for sale, weaving baskets for sale, frying pancakes for sale, and many others, including labouring on other people’s farms for meagre wages – doing weeding, harvesting and post harvesting handling, for example.
Enabling Ugandan women easy access to non-expensive finance is the right thing to do. It facilitates them to engage in their own self-reliant participatory development; an empowering process that ensures that they retain and enhance their dignity. There are many ways in which to access finance to Ugandan women. There are three which I use and which I recommend:
Buy women's products. Whenever I can and have the opportunity to, I buy women’s products and services. Currently, in my neighbourhood, for example, I have five female suppliers of fresh food items. We have a rapport and an enjoyable relationship which has guaranteed I get excellent service and products each time from each ot them. And yes, for each one of them the answer is the same to the question: if someone was to help you, how would you want them to help your business. The answer is inexpensive finance. One of them, my supplier for sweet bananas, explained that if she was able to get a grant and or an interest free loan of one million shillings (US$ 275), payable in one year, she would be able to grow her business to the point of self-sustaining take-off. According to her, on a weekly basis, should be able to buy larger bulk quantities at a lower item unit cost. Meaning that she would be able to make more profit than she makes now, without necessarily increasing the current unit sales price. With more profit, she would be able to comfortably re-invest in the business and have more disposable income to use to meet the needs of her household.
Give women interest free gap-filling loans for income generation. Realistically, this is not sustainable, and the best solution would be a community loan fund from which women can borrow at low interest and strictly only for income generation. The low interest would grow the fund and also cover the cost of administrating the fund.
Advocate for others to access to women finance - as is the intention of this report. Indeed, thank you to all who have already made a donation in support of CPAR Uganda’s initiative to access finance to women of disadvantaged traditionally fishing communities who are no longer able to earn a living from fishing because of fishing restrictions on Lake Kyoga and Lake Victoria. Your donation is already enabling them to transition on to alternative livelihoods.
These disadvantaged women continue to need your help and we ask you please to make a donation. We welcome all donations, every little bit counts. Thank you!
At the shop of the masters of Rubona Baskets
Baskets of Rubona women are of good quality