For the last four months, Girl Up Initiative Uganda has been implementing its newest project to economically empower and equip 25 women with business trainings, entrepreneurship skills and one-on-one mentorship as part of our Young Women's Economic Empowerment Program. We have been working closely together with Creative Women Development Association, a community-based organization located in Kabayonro-Gayaza, Wakiso District that imparts economic and entrepreneurship skills to rural women, and Red Jacket, a consultancy firm whose expert trainer has been leading the training sessions. The training was tailored to target women entrepreneurs who are already running their own businesses as well as those aspiring to startup businesses so they can increase their profitability and improve their business acumen.
Before the trainings began, a needs assessment was conducted to understand how and what exactly the women need to work better. Through the assessment, we discovered that most of the women are passionate about the work they do, but the problem they had was that they did not know how to strategically plan their businesses. Therefore, we based our business trainings on their specific challenges and opportunities while creating a safe space to encourage one another to improve their businesses.
(Photo: Christine of Red Jacket briefing the women at Girl Up offices)
We created a program that included formal trainings, mentoring sessions, and group site visits to assess each women’s businesses or business ideas. The training sessions included sessions on topic such as: personal character strengths and weaknesses, creativity and innovation, marketing, financial planning, budgeting, bookkeeping, and agribusiness.
We especially added the agribusiness element to encourage the women participants to continue their farming endeavors at different levels to ensure that their families have enough to eat and surplus can be sold for extra income. During our visits, our team found that every woman had a farming activity in her home, for example: vegetable gardens, piggery, and poultry among others. Most of the women practicing agriculture received poor quality chemicals and seeds from the government that damaged their crops. Most had lost hope in their agribusiness until we advised them to try different methods like tire gardening that has worked for many of them.
(Photo: Tire gardening)
Below you will meet some of the women entrepreneurs and understand how the program has allowed them to improve and grow their businesses:
Meet Mary Namuyangu in her garden during the group’s site visit. She grows matooke bananas in her garden that she sells to earn an income. She also grows yams, vegetables and corn for her household consumption. From the training, Mary learned the importance of client relations so that she can maintain them for a stable inflow of sales.
(Photo: Mary in her garden amongst her matooke)
Suzan Nandawula was delighted to join the program that she said has changed her life. During the training, she shared with the group that she was tired and disappointed because there was no market for her products. However, after coming for the trainings she learned new skills and her hope was restored. Suzan received new business ideas, including sewing and selling reusable nappies (diapers). She is now running her business more effectively than before and she is planning to save money to buy a bigger machine for embroidery.
(Photo: Suzan producing nappies on her tailoring machine)
Kaaya weaves mats, rears pigs and has a garden that is used as a research garden for Makerere University agriculture students. In the beginning, Kaaya explained that she faced a challenge of tracking the profits from her agriculture work. She would work a lot, but not see any profits. The training on budgeting and bookkeeping bridged this gap and now she understands the importance of bookkeeping:
“Now I know bookkeeping and I have enough money to take care of myself and my family plus cater for other needs like school fees and other requirements like sugar, salt, soap, and medical bills, among others.”
(Photo: Kaaya in her garden)
(Photo: The group looking at Kaaya’s garden)
Mary, Suzan, and Kaaya are just three of the women entrepreneurs whose lives and businesses have been transformed thanks to our business trainings, entrepreneurship skills and mentorship. They have learned how to identify opportunities that fit within their personal capabilities and talents while also being equipped with skills in bookkeeping, financial planning, and budgeting to ensure that their businesses are profitable. With the group approach, the women gained the support and encouragement from one another and shared their successes and challenges in a cooperative space. We look forward to following up with these women and bringing another group on board for the remainder of 2017!