By Karen LaFrance, IWC Business Manager
We are happy to report that twenty-nine women and their families are now benefiting from micro-loans ranging from $250US to $500US in Mutundwe Village (near Kampala), Uganda. The women’s businesses include: farming and poultry-raising, sales of vegetables and other edibles, residential rental properties, on-the-street retail shops and cafes, a “saloon” (hair salon), vending charcoal and firewood, and sales of Mobile Money and Airtime for cell phones.
Loans go for more inventory, equipment, improving residential rental premises, providing security fencing, and purchase of young livestock and inoculations and feed for animals. The no interest loans, with repayments terms of six months to one year, are being repaid on Saturdays through December 31, 2015.
Participants are organized into Lending Circles, also meeting on Saturdays, to learn about business and leadership issues. They pay into a joint Lending Circle guaranty fund to cover any delinquent payments. All borrowers have accounts at Centenary Bank.
The Africa Fund of the International Women’s Convocation (IWC) provides loan capital. UU Funding Panels’ grants and individual contributors provide financial support for staffing in Uganda.
Mr. Abbey Ssejjuuko is the IWC/ARSF organizer. Mr. Ssebunya Kizza is on-site program manager and I provide overall project management. I am tasked to write final reports and recommendations for the pilot project and to evaluate the potential of next phases—like expansions or program extension on site and/or expansion to other locations— for the project.
The project is a joint effort with African Rural Schools Foundation (ARSF), a consortium of several UU churches, which owns and runs a school in Mutundwe Village (http://www.africanruralschools.org/foundation.htm).
ARSF Founder Reverend “Renee” Waun of East Suburban UU Church, Murrysville, PA and Michael Aaron Glass, a long time business planning expert, are stalwart participants in weekly SKYPE and VSee calls. Several UU congregations have provided contributions that benefit the Pilot Project.
Rev. Waun, Mr. Glass and other volunteers travelled to Uganda this winter; while in Mutundwe Village, they visited and video-taped several women at their places of business. IWC unveiled these videos on the IWC Global Sisters call in January 2015 and they remain available for viewing at: https://www.intlwomensconvo.org/news/beneficiaries-of-iwcs-micro-loan-program-in-uganda-the-women-and-their-businesses/.
IWC invites participation in this project. IWC staff and Board members listen in on the VSee calls from time to time; as they know, it is very easy to do. Contact me at email@example.com for
information. Please join us!
Unitarian congregations across Transylvania have been asked to honor Mother’s Day with a special plate collection to UNOSZ, the Association of Unitarian Women in Romania, which will split the collection with IWC, directing it to the Uganda Micro Finance Project.