Here are stories that reveal the sheer force of will of the women of WWK's local partners to continuously learn and grow as they transform themselves and improve their community for the sake of their children and future generations. Their stories share experiences that are shifting their mindset, businesses that are transforming their lives, learning that is improving their community, and digital inclusion that is fostering economic empowerment.

Women’s economic empowerment furthered by digital inclusion

Digital literacy is transformative for women’s empowerment

As leaders in their VSLAs, members in Kasese District and Nantongo Margret from the urban settlement in Kampala District share their delight as this opportunity is their first exposure to digital literacy! Thinking that digital learning was only for the well-to-do, they are growing in their determination to be part of the wider financial ecosystem for the benefit of their children. Digital inclusion is recognized on all fronts as a transformative solution to empower women through financial inclusion and access to mobile technology. For WWK, it also provides accurate and efficient means to gather information on the economic heath of our participants. We owe this pivotal step to our local partner Ensibuuko whose MOBIS software is digitizing both WWK’s interest-free capital (IFC) loans and the VSLAs paving the path for formal financial inclusion for WWK women.

Opportunities Shifting the Mindset of Marginalized Women

Mugume Enid will mentor young girls to grow as leaders in their community!

Mugume Enid of WWK’s local partner Bliss Feme was awarded a scholarship to attend this year’s Sauty Ya Dada program! Sauti ya Dada in translation means, “the girl’s voice”. It is a highly recognized program of of WWK’s network partner, Creative Action Institute (CAI) that creates opportunities for adolescent girls to develop their leadership skills. Enid is being trained during 2022 to be a mentor and teacher who will support girls in her marginalized community to learn, discover and develop their sense of agency so to help them realize a better future. In doing this she will help create girl-led after school clubs, promote safety and well-being through education on sexual reproduction and health rights, and provide the girls in her community with the opportunity to learn skills and knowledge vital to growing their leadership qualities.

 

VSLAs: an essential step in WWK’s path to formal financial inclusion

Thankfully, WWK introduced its Village Savings and Loan Association (VSLA) program during spring of 2021. It made it possible for many of the marginalized women we serve to make it through the Covid lockdown in country. Pictured here (left) is a meeting of one of the VSLA groups in WWK’s local partner in Nakaseke and (right) is WWK Program Director Nakayiza Aminah as she trains the member of our local partner in Kiboga. Our members are now embracing a culture of savings as they access greater capital through their VSLAs. WWK’s network partner, the Ugandan fintech company Ensibuuko, with the support of the WWK NGO, trained all six of of our local partners in their proven methodology. Read under the section digital inclusion foster’s women’s empowerment to learn more how digitizing the VSLAs provides each member of WWK a historical record of saving and loaning on their path to formal financial inclusion.

 

Initiative conquers pandemic challenges for WWK’s new partner

WWK’s newest partner, the Bujagala Kisoboka Women’s Group (BKWG) joined us in January 2020. Their first interest-free loan distribution was to happen in March 2020. Thankfully, it did take place just prior to the pandemic lockdown.  With access to capital for the first time, women of the Bujagala Kisoboka Women’s Group worked actively in their gardens, rearing animals and selling fresh foods and vegetables within their community.

Demonstrating their initiative, the women of Lawamata Sub-County—where extreme poverty is a significant challenge, as is lack of access to health, education and overall resources—the women succeeded in harvesting strong yields from their gardens making it possible to have enough nutritious food for their families during the pandemic.

In the words of Birra Yosinta of WWK’s local Partner Bliss Feme

My name is Birra Yosinta and I joined as a member of With Women Kisoboka/Bliss Feme early in 2020. Having access to capital for the first time, I began the business of buying and selling beans. With profits from this business, I was able to buy a goat and four chickens, and my income has continued to improve. Last spring, I feel lucky to learn new business skills from the NGO, just before the Covid lockdown. I am so grateful to now be able to contribute to my family by providing food and clothing. I am also paying for school fees which have made possible for my older daughter to finish a nursing course!”

The resourcefulness of Spelanza Kabwongera of WWK’s local partner ARKCCAO in Kyaninga

When Spelanza Kabwongera joined WWK she decided to start with pig rearing. She was thrilled last spring when her pig gave birth to eight piglets, which she carefully tended to for five months. She then sold each one for a significant profit. She used these funds to help her pay for her daughter’s cancer treatments as well as food, clothes and school fees for all her children.

Resilience rings in Nabwami Dinah’s words

In WWK/ACCESS member Nabwami Dinah’s words, “I am a mother of four children. Right now, I stay with my 2 little children, the others are married after dropping out of school because we could not pay. I lost the daddy of my children in 2002, and since have been a single mom. I have tried, tooth and nail, to ensure that I educate my children but, in vain because I had to pay for house rent, home basic care and meet all the school dues. I was given capital, which enabled me [to] start a cassava chips making business. I can now pay for my children’s school fees and meet all the basic needs at home.”

Businesses Transforming the Lives of Women and their Communities

Bees are humming and so are the women of ACCESS as bee farmers and honey producers

In the words of Nakafeero Florence, “When I heard about the new opportunity at ACCESS where I work as a senior village health worker (VHT), I immediately knew that I would greatly benefit from the access to capital to buy wood nails to build bee hives. I feel like one of the luckiest beneficiaries of WWK/ACCESS. I now have a dozen hives, have taught more than 15 women at ACCESS how to also build hives and bee farm, and most recently I’ve joined WWK as the Program Lead for ACCESS!

The Nakaseke Bee Keeping project launched late in October 2020, opening its honey factory and store to the public. Nakafeero Florence and her husband Kabagambe Wilson are the owners of this successful business and trained WWK members in the business of bee farming and honey production!

Meet Loice Kisombera, a member of Bliss Feme since 2017

Loice Kisombera is a highly industrious member of the Bliss Feme community in the hills of Kasese District, where life is especially challenging given the terrain, the impact of climate change, and the lack of water. As she is primarily responsible for her family, she used her access to capital to buy coffee as her business. During the off season, she also engages in farming and is happy to share that her harvest is good compared to past years for which she is grateful, especially during the pandemic. The beans she grows in the hills provide her with additional income and food for her family. In Loice’s words, “Working in several activities widens my income sources which helps take care of my family and allows me to save. You can see, I am drying the bean here in the tree behind me. I most thankful to With Women Kisoboka and Bliss Feme.”

Passion fruit farming is a successful collaborative for WWK members of ARKCCAO

Because of the success of the butunda or passion fruit farming collaborative with women of our local partner ARKCCAO, with all individual members learning the skills of growing passion fruit and earning good profits, the individual members have now expanded to farm their own individual gardens, making significantly increased profits to feed, clothe and school their children as well as invest in their growing businesses. Here are, left to right, Mbabazi Janet, Tindimubona Winni, Kobugabe Silvia, Habasa Lidia, and Muhimbise Beatrace, all originally members of the passion fruit farming collaborative and members of our local partner in the Kabarole District in the western region of Uganda, the Albertine Rift and Kyaninga Community Conservation and Area Organization (ARKCCAO).

Kabadoka Roset [pictured right] is with Program Director, Nakayiza Aminah in her tailoring shop. A group of tailors share this shop and it is now doing very well as you can see with the store filled with new clothes.

Bookmaking is in full gear at Bliss Feme!

The book-making project of our local partner Bliss Feme is in full gear. Schools in the community and beyond have begun placing their orders. The women of this social enterprise are planning to produce 10,000 books this year alone.

The demand for books is high and the Sub County leadership said they will look for market for the women if they produce in big numbers. The bookmaking project is a help to the community and is thus improving Bliss Feme’s relationship with the Kisinga Subcounty local leadership.

The Transformative Power of Community Systems Change

Always learning and growing: WWK leaders chart the course following CAI’s professional development opportunity

Overjoyed by the experience of participating in the Creative Collaboration for 21st Century Leaders course held by Creative Action Institute in the fall of 2020 and supported by the Arthur B. Schultz Foundation, WWK’s Executive Director Milly Nalukwago and Program Director Aminah Nakayiza, along with program leaders from Bliss Feme Solomon Bukundika (not pictured) and Access Florence Nakafeero share that the experience was so life changing that they are confident and feel better prepared to advance the goals of WWK, the NGO and the respective CBOs (community based organization) they manage.

WWK’s NGO trained to put the women in charge!

We are grateful for the funding from the Arthur B. Schultz Foundation that made it possible for us to be trained by Girl Up Initiative Uganda in how to manage domestic violence and to encourage reproductive health. The increased dependency in the homes of WWK women members because of the Covid lockdown has caused an uptick in gender-based violence in our communities. Aminah and I are now trained to train WWK’s local partners to ‘put the women in charge!'” —Milly Nalukwago, Executive Director, WWK NGO

WWK women members reveal their deep desire to better the lives of their children

In the spring of 2019, our local partners engaged in a vision workshop with With Women Kisoboka. The moxie of our women members revealed how they are natural business entrepreneurs with a deep desire to better the lives of their children and their community.

WWK NGO Team graduate from Street Business School!

Milly Nalukwago and Aminah Nakayiza, the NGO management team graduated as Certified Lead Coaches of Street Business School Entrepreneurial Training Program in the fall of 2019. While training began last March 2020 with the women of Bliss Feme, a pause was necessary because of the Covid lockdown. Plans are in place to start up again in the spring of 2021 to train all women members of WWK in business  skills to become knowledgeable, resourceful, confident entrepreneurs and business leaders.