The Young Women Economic Empowerment Program (YWEEP) is a program initiated by Girl Up Initiative Uganda to improve the economic livelihoods of young women living in slum areas of Kampala. The program creates economic opportunities for young women to increase their income and become economically empowered and self-sufficient. As part of the program, we offer entrepreneurial and business trainings to groups of women in different slum communities in Kampala. Women in this program are provided with the space and support to develop their business ideas and learn new skills on entrepreneurship and business development, for example in bookkeeping, saving, business marketing, communication skills and so many others.
Our team is currently working with a group of vibrant young women in Acholi quarters. Acholi quarters is located on Banda ill, Nakawa division and is one of the highly populated slums in Kampala. Acholi Quarters is a slum that accommodates over 10,000 people of mixed cultures, though the highest percentage of people are from the Acholi ethnic group, which is how it derived the “Acholi Quarters” name. During the late 1980s, Northern Uganda experienced an insurgency led by Joseph Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) who targeted the Acholi ethnic group. Therefore, thousands of Acholi people fled south to Kampala and lived in internally displaced camps – one of which was the Acholi Quarters that was given to them from the King of Buganda. The Acholi Quarters is now an overcrowded slum neighborhood marked by extreme poverty, drug and alcohol abuse, gender-based violence, poor health outcomes, and much more.
Given the lack of opportunities, many women are forced to earn their living breaking rocks in a stone quarry under poor working conditions, with a daily wage equivalent to around 75 cents. As one of the participants in the YWEEP, Anna Akumu, told us:
“Every morning, I go to the stone quarry to work with the hopes of earning something to cater for my family. I set a target and I never leave the stone quarry irrespective of too much sunshine, hunger and the injuries I get while doing my work.”
Nevertheless, these horrible conditions do not stop women from starting their own businesses in a hope to escape poverty and provide a better life for their children. You will also find that the women are energetic and remain positive about creating a better future for themselves and their families. This gives us motivation to work with this group so they can become economically empowered.
(Photo: Coach Clare introducing the program to businesswomen)
For women like Anna, our program will support them to explore business opportunities that can allow them to leave the dangerous work of breaking rocks. For other women in the group, they already have businesses in producing and selling beaded jewelry and peanut butter, and just lack the skills and knowledge in entrepreneurship to bring in more profit.
(Photo: Jewelry made by one of the participants)
GUIU is excited to work with this group of women to support them to thrive as successful business women in their communities. Our training program will address the various ways to best manage a business and market their goods. As Jackeline Akello, explained to us when we first evaluated the group:
“I always sell my products to people within my community, but I don’t know how to keep track of my sales and how to get more people to buy my products.”
Bookkeeping is another huge challenge in small scale businesses and thus our entrepreneurship training will equip the women with skills in records management. Our business trainers will also offer one-on-one support for each woman’s business to assess her challenges and together come up with solutions for how she can overcome them.
We are very excited to start this training program with this group of innovative and vibrant women and given our engagement with them so far, we believe this training will be very effective and the women will have beautiful stories to tell! We can’t wait to share their stories with you as we provide these essential trainings that will have effects for generations to come.