What would you do with shillings five hundred thousand shillings? If you are a party animal, probably an evening out with friends, or if you are a fashionista, may be a dress. But with the same amount of money as initial capital, ten women of Burarro Produce Buying Women Group are now the envy of their village.
The members of the group found in Burarro parish, Nyantungo Sub-county in Kyenjojo district came together as a saving group, each saved 50,000 Uganda shillings (Fifty thousand shillings) and they were able to raise Shs500,000 which they used to start a produce buying enterprise.
Armed with their capital out of personal savings, the women used part of the money to rent a small room for a store, buy a weighing scale and bags for keeping their produce. They remained with only Shs300, 000 for produce buying and in just one season of hard work, they had grown their capital to 1.7 million shillings) in 2015.
Rose Kemigisa Kaijabwango, the chairperson of the group says the year 2016 was the breakthrough for their enterprise. According to Ms. Kaijabwango, the group re-invested all the Shs1.7 million which they had raised the previous year and by the end of the season they had built a capital base of 4.5 million shillings.
Time to share
At this point the women decided it was time to share some of the proceeds and maintain the enterprise because, according to their Burraro village standards, they were already millionaires!
The group decided that each member be given Shs200, 000 from their kitty, which for 10 members amounts to two million shillings. They then remained with 2.5 million shillings as working capital.
The members continue with their produce buying enterprise as a group, but each individual member is encouraged to have a side business as an individual.
The women also have their gardens were they grow crops such as maize, beans, cassava and others. While to start their produce buying enterprise they used cash savings, members of the group are now tapping into group labour in their individual gardens. All members supply labour to a group member at intervals and the results are phenomenal. The members have built brick houses, pay school fees for their children and the sky is the limit.
The group was selected to receive four million shillings from the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development to grow their produce buying enterprise. The minister of Gender Labour and Social Development Hajat Janat Balunzi Mukwaya, who has visited the group as part of her performance monitoring visit, says Burarro Produce Buying Women Group is evidence that with capital women are bound to move mountains.
“We had already achieved a lot in the women agenda since Beijing but it’s only now that government is put in place an economic empowerment programme targeting women,” says Minister Janat Mukwaya
She says women have come a long way in their struggle and any official who messes up the programme will face it rough.
The women requested that instead of the four million shillings they are set to receive, government considers giving them more money to grow their enterprise
The minister directed that the UWEP technical support unit grants the group’s request on account that they are already doing well as a group.
“What is four million to this group now? They have already had more than that and we need to give them more to take them to the next level,” she said.
The Director of Gender and Community Development in the Ministry of Gender Jane Sanyu Mpagi on her part cautioned men not to abscond from their responsibilities.
She says while it is okay for women to make a contribution to the wellbeing of the family, it’s becoming evident that men are running away from their responsibility and living the women to do everything from feeding the family, paying school fees and others while the men waste away into alcohol abuse.
The National Programme Coordinator of the UWEP Brenda Kifuko Malinga, says women economic empowerment is for the benefit of the whole family and men should come out in support of their wives who belong to groups.
UWEP is a government initiative put in place as a revolving fund to enhance women participation in the economy. It’s designed to address the problem of lack of access to credit for women majority of who lack collateral to access credit from the financial institutions
So if the Burarro women can use a paltry Shs500,000 to start viable enterprise, and later on build brick houses, the statement by the group chairperson that they will soon be driving should not be taken literally!