Business

UWEP Funds Give Gulu Women New Hope

Adega Anni, literally, means I do not entertain rumors. It is the name of a women’s group whose main activity is fish business at Lalya Main Market in Bungatira Sub-county, Gulu District.

The women are beneficiaries of Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP), a government initiative to improve women’s access to financial services, equip them with the skills for enterprise growth, value addition and marketing of their products and services.

The women are availed with interest-free revolving credit to initiate and strengthen their enterprises and the project was initiated in 2016.

Adega Anni Fish Mongers that comprises of ten women was given a cash boost of Shs 5 million last year and to date they area already realizing the benefits.

The most sold fish among the women group is silver fish and a container goes from between Shs1,000 and Shs5,000. Tilapia, ranges from Shs 2,000 to 8000, depending on the size and Nile-perch is between Shs 4,000 and Shs10,000.

Many women are able to pay school fees for their children without hurdles, pay medical bills at various health facilities and improvement of their household income is also visible.

“We are doing the business as a group and whatever we get we utilize it together. We are in a savings group and we have realized a lot of positive developments in our lives,” Ms Betty Okot, chairperson of the group said.

Ms Okot says, as much as they were already into the business, UWEP push has given them a smile and they are advocating for more funds in the future.

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“We received the funds in September last year and the following month we started paying back.  But we are okay with it since the business is moving on quite well,” she said.

She adds that each month they pay back Shs 400,000 and it will be payable for a period of one year.

One of the beneficiaries Ms Rose Auma Okumu says her and the family members have never slept hungry, there is something to carry home at least on the daily basis.

“The basics for home are always there and in time. Apart from benefiting as  an individuals it has brought us together as members and we have been able to learn several business skills ranging from record keeping and business monitoring,” she said

Ms Filder Anyango, who is  also a member  says as much as UWEP came when they were already in fish business the skills they attained has taken their business to another level.

“Records keeping is now essential in our business unlike in the past when we cared less about it,” she add.

At least whenever we sit for our savings days, which is done weekly, each member has something to save in her name, Ms Anyago says

Community Development Officer Mr Charles Obwona who also oversees the UWEP program in Bungatira Sub County said so far the fish mongering business at Lalya market is yielding results.

“The testimonies from the women are enough to show that they are on steady progress in terms of business and in their households. Several members have been able to acquire household items that they were not having in their homes before the UWEP was introduced.” he said

Chairperson of the group Ms Okot, however says that it has not all been roses. The business has also been having some challenges ranging from few customers especially at this time when parents are taking back their children to school.

“The sales always decline when school time comes. Most parents prefer vegetables so that they can reduce on the costs,” she said.

She adds that the transport fares and the cash they keep on giving the law enforcement officers have also affected the transportation of fish from either Entebe (Lake Victoria) and from Lake Kyoga in Apac district.

“Several monies are spent on the road from the enforcement officers but all in all we are ready to keep in the business besides the challenges,” she said

The cash the group requested was reduced from Shs 12 to Shs 5 million, something that was  below the expectation, Ms  Akot said

Ms   Margret Odok who also deals in the similar business and a member of the group says the government should design another programme that targets women in terms of giving them grants.

“We feel that grants from government towards women empowerment can also help us much. Some of group members are widows and are the home breadwinners so we hope that grants can help them to do multiple enterprises as household levels,” Ms   Odok said

She adds that in the future the government should also consider giving out livestock especially to the Women in the north whose source of livelihood which was animal keeping was interfered by the long war in the region.

Ms Adok adds that women have remained breadwinners countrywide and government should always give the apriority when it comes to funding their projects that are geared towards their welfare.

Ms Jacqueline Piloya, focal point person UWEP Gulu district, said the women embraced the programme has improved on their livelihood.

“Several groups have showed interest in getting the loan so that they can also boost their business,” She said.

She added that right from the sensitization time, many women picked interest and we are glad that today they are yielding from the fruits of their commitment and hard work.

“Majority of the women can now afford daily income through the income generating activities that are in place that takes them through day to day life,” She said

Ms Piloya however decried the inadequate funding from the Ministry, adding that some groups were not given the actual cash that they demanded for.

“Funding under UWEP needs to be increased so that several women improve in terms of the business especially in   enterprises they have ventured into,” Ms Piloya said.

Several women groups are interested in joining but funding seem to be inadequate.

 

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