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Posts Tagged ‘Uganda’

Recently I had the opportunity to sit with 12 of our lead coordinators to talk about budgeting, savings, and personal financial planning. Often, budgeting isn’t the most fun topic (especially when we realize how many different expenses we have!) but the BWA women excitedly and actively participated in the discussion.

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During the session, we reviewed the importance of:

  • Setting short and long-term goals; giving us a framework to envision how the money we make and spend today impacts our future
  • Creating a personal financial picture; equipping the women with the ability to understand the “lay of the land” when it comes to their personal finances
  • Establishing strategies to proactively manage expenses; developing plans to save regularly, including tactics to reduce extraneous spending to achieve goals more quickly

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The value of recording your inflows and outflows of money was one of the biggest takeaways from our discussion. Each woman had multiple sources of income that they received at varying times per year, ranging from their salaries as teachers to their multiple yearly harvests from their garden.

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And naturally, each had multiple different types of expenses occurring throughout the year. The “simple” practice of writing down these various income sources and expenses was eye opening for many of the women – as it is for so many people. By only keeping this crucial personal finance information in our heads we can often misestimate our financial situation and as they say here “eat money without realizing where it is going.”

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After two hours of discussion about goal setting, savings management, and personal financial planning the lead coordinators now have an outline to share and will continue to use this template as a training tool for current and future borrowers. Small steps and encouragement towards active management of their personal budget will help empower each woman to be confident in their financial situation and achieve the goals they set for themselves. It was a pleasure starting this dialogue with the coordinators and demonstrating the power of budgeting!

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This summer, WMI interns Danielle DaCosta, Xaveria Alvarez and Dan Higgins, had a chance to sit down and speak with WMI borrowers about their life stories.  Over the next few months we will post a series of WMI borrower biographies so that you can meet more of the rural women in East Africa who are benefiting from the WMI loan program.

Meet Agnes Wodada

Agnes, 44, is a busy and ambitious woman. In addition to being a math and science teacher at Buyobo Primary School, she also works as a local coordinator of some loan groups and successfully runs a tomato business. Her business has grown steadily since receiving her initial loan of 100,000 shillings in 2009, as she took out increasingly larger loans with WMI and eventually graduated to independent banking with Post Bank where she now has a loan of 1 million shillings.

Since her participation in the loan program, she has drastically increased her own skill set in business saying, “I was among the first women to be trained and up until today these skills have allowed me to manage my business and take care of my family.” Her participation in the loan program has enabled her to provide better education for her 4 children, who attend school in Mbale and near Kampala. Her better standard of living has allowed her to help others as she has taken in and looks after 3 children from her extended family.   

Agnes has a bright future ahead of her. She is now in the process of constructing a shop at Buyobo Trading Centre which will allow her to expand her business further. She hopes that in 5 years she will be financially stable enough to no longer require a loan, adding “I will stand be able to stand on my own.”

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The KONY 2012 video has generated significant controvery involving Uganda.

On March 9, the Uganda Government responded in a press Release:
Misinterpretations of media content may lead some people to believe that the LRA is currently active in Uganda. It must be clarified that at present the LRA is not active in any part of Uganda. Successfully expelled by the Ugandan Peoples Defence Forces in mid-2006, the LRA has retreated to dense terrain within bordering countries in the Central African area. They are a diminished and weakened group with numbers not exceeding 300. The threat posed by the LRA in our neighboring countries is considerably reduced and we are hopeful that it will be altogether eliminated with the help of US logistical support.

The people of Uganda, especially those in the north of the country are on a path of rebuilding, reconciliation and reintegration and are now vibrant and prospering communities. To aid this prosperity the Government implemented a 10 Year Peace, Recovery and Development Plan for Northern Uganda (PRDP).

Former child soldiers perform for WMI trainers in Gulu, Uganda, January 2012

This past January. WMI president, Robyn Nietert, assisted with training workshops for poor women in Gulu, Uganda, which was the epicenter of the LRA insurgency and subsequent IDP camps. She reported that the area was peaceful.

Over a million people were displaced in northern Uganda during the fighting and tens of thousands of children were abducted. There are currently many international NGOs and local Ugandans working on reconstruction and stabilizing the local economy, which was devastated.

WMI opened a loan hub in Gulu last October to give rural women in the area a chance to start businesses. In April, WMI will open another loan hub even further north in Atiak, the site of the largest massacre of civilians by LRA troops, which took place in 1995. Every April 20, Atiak commemorates those who died.

WMI is partnering with two local Ugandan community based organizations to launch these loan hubs: Childcare Development Organization – Uganda and Blessed Watoto (Children). These groups are working very hard, with limited resources, to bring economic opportunities to northern Uganda as it recovers from the impact of the 10 years of fighting. They are on the ground running small outreach initiatives on a daily basis. They provide services and support activites for orphaned children in the region. WMI believes that working at this grassroots level is the best way we can help the women and families of northern Uganda rebuild their lives. We appreciate your support as we bring more and more microfinance opportunites to women in East Africa who have been disenfrachised and marginalized. It is inspiring to see how they build assets to better lives with the small opportunity provided by a WMI loan.

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