Below are the contents of a “Letter to My Mentor”, written by a girl at Buyobo Primary School enrolled in WMI’s Girls Entrepreneurship program. The girls were instructed to write letters to the Girls Group program mentor about the challenges they face, and their dreams for the future.
I would like to write this letter to you telling about my life, my family, my friends, and others. I started studies in 2005. I have been struggling in my life to study – for instance I move a long distance from home to school. In our family we are 8 children and our family is not economically stable to cater for all of us to go to private schools – some of us managed to go to government schools. I have good friends who also have good visions. We are hoping to become good citizens in the future. In my dreams I would like to become a teacher. When I become a teacher I will prefer eating fried fish to rice. I will eat bananas and bread. I will make sure that I buy myself a car for transporting myself only. I hope to overcome challenges like lack of school fees.
From September-December 2013, WMI is pioneering a weekly after-school Girls Entrepreneurship program for 12-15 year old girls within Buyobo. The program utilizes participatory games and activities to introduce concepts about leadership, self-concept, social entrepreneurship, and business development. The aim is to develop a cadre of empowered young girls who have the skills, confidence, and audacity to look critically at issues facing their families and communities – then pioneer ventures or start businesses that can provide the financial resources necessary to help solve these issues.
In addition to creating a culture of youth entrepreneurship, we believe that this Girls Group will amplify WMI’s cross-generational impact. Many of the girls within the group have mothers, sisters, and aunts that are borrowers within the WMI loan program. By presenting topics about value addition, customer relationships, and innovation, we hope that the girls will become more involved in their families’ businesses and aid their elders by putting into practice the information they’ve obtained in the program.
The curriculum for the program takes the girls through three main modules. For the first four lessons we have focused on confidence, leadership, and the importance of being proactive, engaged citizens of Uganda. As we move to the next theme we will present topics about social entrepreneurship, community leadership, and begin to broach topics about business and savings. The final module will involve a deeper look at business models, how to increase business profits, and promote innovation.
The girls’ excitement to be part of this weekly program is written over their faces as they bound into the WMI offices with contagious energy every Thursday afternoon. Their lively engagement and active participation within the group is extraordinary. You wouldn’t have to visit more than a couple Ugandan primary schools to realize that young girls in Uganda have the tendency to be very shy and hesitant to speak up in front of groups, but because of the “girls only” nature of the group and the safe, open, hopeful spirit that the WMI office exudes, the girls embrace the opportunity to speak up and openly share their views, dreams, and ambitions. There is no doubt that the future of Buyobo looks bright with this next generation of female entrepreneurs.