Teaching the skills necessary for women to gain control of their economic lives is a key tool of empowerment. In Lunkhoge, Uganda, a CWS education and microfinance program is helping women embrace the possibilities for improving their lives through entrepreneurship underwritten by small loans. The women in Lunkhoge are anxious to learn and are extremely hard-working. They are determined to make poverty history in their lives. This is Elizabeth’s story.
We were invited for a community meeting where they encouraged us to work together in groups. They told us that through such groups we would achieve much. We decided to form a group, which we called Kyesemulira (“Together we are Strong”). We knew nothing about saving, record keeping and group dynamics.
I was very excited when I saw with my own eyes how women have come from having nothing, literally from nowhere, to somewhere economically. The experience of how women came out of poverty was very impressive and I personally learned how loans can help someone to grow economically. I also learned that the success of the loan lies in this: that the money received a s a loan is not supposed to be used to pay hospital bills, spent on visiting your friends, or used for burial expenses. This money should be used to make a profit so that one can benefit and be able to pay back the loan.
Most importantly I learned that in order to for the whole group to benefit in the long run, loans are supposed to be paid back. Another notable aspect in loaning for groups is the reward system. I saw gifts being awarded to the best performing groups, that is, those who had paid the loans on time. The gifts-- lamps, iron boxes, kettles and basins--were very practical and useful to the women.
I will work hard to be like those women, or even better.
Elizabeth Kakai, Lunkhoge, Uganda