I love being in Uganda and starting off in a room filled with women looking to support themselves and their families is the best way to get my time going.
We had two information sessions this morning at Kiwuliriza Primary with just over 70 women who are applying to be recipients of the Mama Nguvu sponsorship program. The age range goes from 17 to 70 but all must have at least one dependent child that needs to go to school.
As always, we cannot support all the women who apply due to a shortage of funds but we hope to be able to sponsor at least 10 women in a business that is sustainable for them. Our initial “cull” comes between those who are only asking for consumables (a bag of tomatoes) and those who are asking for something that will last and sustain them such as a sewing machine or pots and pans. The tomatoes get sold and nothing guarantees that they will be replaced whereas the sewing machine lasts and will continue to make money for the Mama as long as she is sewing.
There is already one woman that I am interested in, Florence, who asked to rewrite her application because she found the first one to be too messy. She has a spark in her eye and when I went to ask her about her hair salon, she told me that she would find a new location this week and be able to give me a quote for rent as soon as I called. She has a lot of drive and is keen to make her own hair salon work. She currently works in a salon for another woman.
I also had the pleasure of reconnecting with Harriet, Suzan, and Florence (another one) that the Gifts to Grandmas ladies have sponsored and they are so excited about getting this project underway. Harriet is also a ball of fire and has good business sense because when I asked Suzan what type of fabric she wanted, she couldn’t decide between kitenge or school uniform. Harriet suggested that because of the time of year, kitenge which is the traditional fabric to make dresses would be a better choice because all the students are already in school and don’t need uniforms. “You can buy kitenge, sell pieces, sew with it and make double the profit. Then when it is time for school to begin again, you will have the capital to buy fabric to make school uniforms.” Suzan felt that was a good idea as well. I also reconnected with Francoise who has had a difficult year but she is strong and wanting to develop her business in a new way.
One thing I’ve changed in my initial presentation is a more explicit description of the “giving back” to another woman. I have told all the candidates that they are expected to save 2,000 shillings per month which will be collected every three months. This money will be saved by ISEE and used to invest in another Mama candidate next year. All the women seemed keen on the idea and felt the amount was reasonable. By having Andrew collect every three months, it will be easier for them to save and achieve that goal.
So a great way to start my time in Uganda. Now we go through the difficult task of vetting each applicant to narrow it down to the top 10-20 candidates.
The numbers in these categories are:
food consumables: 10 – culled
clothing/shoes consumables: 11 – culled
hair salon: 5
fridge and drinks:11 (these are quite random – I sell clothes but want a fridge.)
event coordinating: 1
It’s not too late to donate toward this project! If you would like to sponsor a Mama, you can let me know what area you want her business to be in and donate through our paypal button. I will then select a candidate and let you know about the lives (the Mama and the children) you have changed through your generosity.