ISEE Solutions

Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

ISEE Solutions - Investing in Sustainability, Education and Empowerment Solutions

February 27, 2021

Greetings to you all,

This week has been a good week for three of our Mama Nguvu candidates who have managed to secure a boost to their businesses. Last week I submitted their proposals and working budgets as required for our work this season. I was able to meet them to work through their respective budgets and now we are finishing on the contracts so we can sign, then do shopping for their respective business items. These include Irene L, Lorna K and Annet C who will all complete the shopping process tomorrow.

The other Mamas I worked with this week included the following;

Hamida

Hamida. H., whose business has been on hold for a while now, was not able to replace her lost chickens and has been struggling to raise capital to restart her chicken business. The challenge is that she has no chicken coop at the moment and she does not have the money to prepare room for what would have been the alternative. 

She is currently working as a sales representative in a friend’s furniture shop for now as a means of trying to raise capital or funds to re-establish her business. While talking to her, I still saw the enthusiasm she has always had when she had her business. She still wants to raise chicken because this is her passion. I asked her to continue dreaming and wanting her business as we work towards establishing her business again.

Hadija

Hadija N is doing okay. I met her just before she started her business day. She was sitting with her daughter preparing to start work for the afternoon. She usually starts with making the fire using charcoal in a charcoal stove, as her little sister helps with peeling the potatoes and putting the tea in the kettle. She sells chips, fried eggs and tea by the roadside. She does not have a permanent structure because the authorities won’t let them build anything by the road. Therefore she only places her display table then places a bench and table besides the display case where her customers sit as they enjoy the tea. She, along with her sister, will deliver the food to the rest of the customers. 

She later spoke to me about her bar business, saying “I have my fridge, chairs and tables and  I still want to do my bar business again.” The challenge for her has been the fact that bars had been closed by the government but she is determined to re-open whenever they are given the green light. I am glad she is still passionate for this section of her business and I can’t wait to work with her along those lines. 

Irene L’s salon has been finished or at least plastered with cement and she has nailed pieces of wood to the wall that she will use to hang hair braids and weaves. This is a common display technique for most local salons here. This salon is a bit small, smaller than what she had before but she is happy with it. I spoke to her early this week and she was working on getting her new market licence that allows her to work in that domain. 

Irene’s walls for display

She has also been lucky to access some more ISEE funding to help her buy some small requirements she will need to help her start effectively.  Having spoken to her earlier, I realized that she has no capital because she has been using the money she had saved previously to buy food and sustain her family when the salon was closed. We believe that by availing this money to her will help her start more easily than if we didn’t provide these funds.

Margaret

The only sad story this week came from visiting Margaret who had just returned from two funeral arrangements of her mother and brother who both passed on in January. A death in the family is never easy, of course, but Margaret had a particularly hard time with everything. If you wanted to know just how messy these funeral arrangements can be, you should experience a Ugandan one. She has had to deal with a lot of things and she was exhausted. I had to try and cut my meeting short with her because I didn’t want to bring back the memories, so I tried to change the topic to business.

She is clearly not ready to engage yet again in her tailoring work so we agreed that she should take time off for a month or so until she can determine her next move. We are hoping that she gets well soon and because of social distancing I was not able to give her a hug but rather wished her positive thoughts during these trying times.

In my attempts to visit Mamas this week, I was unable to see Angel N as she had traveled to the Village to see her mother, Florence A after taking her children to the village early last month has also traveled to pick them up because schools are soon reopening.

Our Mama Boosts of the Week

Irene L: previously sponsored for a salon but has been forced to a new location and has requested 400,000 for the required 4 months rent on her new location and 300,000 for braids

(approx. $245 CAD)

Lorna K: previously sponsored with a knitting machine but has opened a snack shop/restaurant with her daughter Christine (also a sponsored Mama) and has requested 540,000 for items like saucepans and chairs

(approx. $190 CAD)

Annet C: previously sponsored for a salon and is requesting 500,000 for a bale of shoes to boost her business as the salon business is currently very slow.

(approx. $175 CAD)

As it is with our policy all Mama have a year to repay a portion of this boost based on her earnings. This is done in the spirit of one Mama helping another as we try to create a lasting impact in their lives as families.

Lastly thank you all for your continued support to us and the Mamas we serve daily. We wish you well in the coming week ahead. Stay safe, maintain social distancing but remain sociable.

Yours Sincerely

Andrew Echel 

Director for Progs, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society

February 19, 2021

Greetings to you all,

I hope you are all well. For any of you who is not, I send you best wishes and positive thoughts that you will get well soon. 

Statistics released today in Uganda show an average of 27 new people are infected with the virus each day. We have reached a total of just over 40,000 infected people since the first case was discovered in March 2020. The stats say that we have had 331 deaths and 14,569 recovered patients. The virus is still out there at large especially for us here, where people continue to ignore the plea to stay safe, keep social distance and wear masks. They keep going on their days with no concern for safety and that is what makes me sick to the core.

This week was filled with so many exciting things from Mamas’ making payment to their Mama fund to seeing a pig giving birth. 

Maria in front of her piggery

I had the opportunity for the first time to see a pig give birth. It was so exciting for both Maria and I at her pig sty. Earlier that day, at about 4AM, her other pig gave birth to 8 piglets, so Maria actually saw two sets of births that day. When I was with her, her face was beaming with such joy, although she had been worried because the second mother pig was experiencing much distress and unrest because of its labor pains. It was restless since morning and it had started biting the piglets from the other pig so Maria had to put them in a secure stall. 

She is now planning to expand the sty by two to three small rooms to be able to raise the piglets before selling them off. She told me that had received a few requests from neighbors’ booking some of the piglets and her system is to always keep the piglets for at least a month before she sells them. This is  why she has to expand her pigsty to house them comfortably before selling them off.

Christine behind her piggery

In the same area as Maria lives Christine so I dropped by to check out her project. Apart from her second batch not being good at all because most of the chickens fell sick, the rest of the chickens and pigs are doing well. The egg-layers, about 50, have resumed their laying routine but not as productively as they used to so she will sell them off this Easter season. Christine currently has about 230 birds and still has adequate space in the chicken pen so she will take possession of another batch of eggs at the hatchery next week, so she has a replacement when the older ones are sold off. 

The pigs are growing really fast and well in the lower section of her animal house. They look really great and clean, meaning that she has been practicing good animal husbandry. No wonder her pigs are doing well and not falling sick.

Irene and her new location

This week, we managed to secure a new shop for Irene who had been house hunting since the end of December 2020. Irene was issued with an ultimatum to vacate the previous salon house she was occupying, though neither she nor I fully understand the reasons she was ordered out as she has never had any issues with rent or anything. She was doing very well in terms of maintaining the shop. It was well kept and she had even occasionally painted it. The owner of the shop gave her two rent-free months and she was due to leave at the end of  December. 

She started looking for a house to move into from early December 2020 but all she found was either poor quality or too expensive. This week on Monday she found a house which she liked (partially because it was close to her former salon) but it was yet to be fully built. She called me and we had to secure it for her by paying at least four months’ worth of rent. The shop was to be completed by this weekend and she would move in and start her business as soon as possible. During my visit to make payment, we visited the place where she had stored her equipment and they were getting spoiled so we had to somehow get this shop quick to save the items in storage from the rain and dust.

She was really happy and excited to be starting next week. Over the last few visits with her, she has been a bit worried about her kids and what they would eat. She was telling me that she had already spent the majority of her working capital during this little forced layoff before she got this salon.

Cissy and her restaurant

Later that day, I visited Cissy across the block on the other side from Maria and Christine. Cissy is doing okay, not to the level I expected but I guess she is starting to realize that she can do much better and she is willing to take on another challenge and start up another section of frying snacks. 

Her restaurant is being run very well by her daughter and wants to leave that section for her daughter to run and take care of her kids. She has found another opportunity to work by her friends’ tailor shop selling snacks. Her friend has offered her a place that can facilitate her preparation, frying and selling snacks. Whereas it’s a good opportunity, this place is a bit distant from her home but the location is good and it is a busy place so it would attract a ready market for the snacks.

Meanwhile she was able to make her Mama Nguvu fund contribution which is required by every Mama in the program. Her payment obviously has delayed but of course it is understandable because of what has been happening since last year. These funds we collect from the Mamas is what we reinvest in fellow Mamas. This is how we keep the spirit going between the Mamas. We tell them sometimes where it goes so they know what they have done and who they have helped.

Immaculate and her new business

I was happy to see Immaculate’s new business this week. Immaculate closed her salon because it was not working out well and the people she kept employing to run the business in her absence were not faithful enough. So she decided to close the business. Immaculate is a social worker at one of the local hospitals in a place called Namuwongo for more than 10 years now. She has probably worked with many nurses over the years so in conjunction with a younger nurse, they have decided to open up a small clinic to help provide medical services to their village. It looks like it will make them happy about their enterprise. I wished them both well and thanked them for the service they are providing that community.

Lorna in her restaurant

Lorna’s restaurant is looking promising according to her report. They are selling more than last week already, so it seems they are doing well. We also took the opportunity to work out a budget  to improve on what they are doing now.

This week we are looking to improve and boost businesses of three Mamas’ including Irene L. who we helped secure a location for her business, Lorna who we will establish soon plus Annet who has requested for a boost to buy shoes and add to her business.

We want to thank you all who continue to support and follow us week in, week out. We appreciate you all. We hope that you continue to stay safe and keep social distance.

Yours in service

Andrew Echel

Director of Programs, Uganda

ISEE Solutions Society.