This project ran from 2009-2015 and used capacity-building in business skills and management to support women in developing their businesses, managing credit, saving money and managing revolving loans. The unique aspect of WORI’s programme was that it enabled women to access training and credit without having to put up collateral.
During the training, women learned:
- how to develop a business plan
- utilising available resources to increase profit
- savings and credit use
- conflict management
- group cohesion
The only requirement to participate in our Business Training was to be an organised women’s group with existing businesses who were willing to work together to collectively save up money. We monitored each group’s progress to ensure money was being saved week by week.
Over the course of the project, we worked with 36 women’s groups, each with 15 members, in rural Buwenge and provided over 185 microloans to chronically poor women, many of whom were supporting children orphaned by AIDS.
Through providing training to approximately 540 women, we saw tremendous growth of women’s businesses and their savings. We also organised weekly borrower meetings, conducted periodic site visits, and provided ongoing business training and counselling.
As a direct result of the project, some women were able to buy assets such as bicycles to ease transportation of their goods to markets, livestock including goats and cows for milk and meat production, production items like sewing machines, grinding machines for maize and ground nuts for alternative incomes, and household items.
Most importantly, children benefit from a trickle-down effect as borrowers boost their small businesses and use their profits to pay for school fees, food, health care and clothing, meaning children no longer have to engage in child labour to support their family’s income.
One of our biggest concerns going into the project was the socially accepted practice of men stealing and controlling money from women in their lives – wives, sisters, daughters. Thankfully, this happened very rarely with the participants in our project, and women were able to gain financial autonomy and contribute to the economic well-being of their families and communities.