‘Picture it’ for International Women's Day 2015 - Encouraging small business start-ups for women in Uganda
Children on the Edge have been supporting the transformation of a community in Soweto Slum, Jinja, Uganda for over 3 years. The main part of the programme is focussed on child rights and child protection, but sustainability and independence is an overarching aim.
Once children have graduated from the Child Friendly Space which provides education and nutrition for ages 3-6, they are fully equipped to attend mainstream primary school. Despite education being ‘free’ in Uganda, the costs of travel, uniform and books is still too high for most families in Soweto.
To counter this problem and provide extra income for these vulnerable households, the project has begun providing small business start-up loans to women in the community. Some sell vegetables that they have learned to grow through the agricultural component of the project, some are responsible for the new water standpipes that have been installed, and earn money serving the community this way.
One group of women though, have thought outside the box and pooled their business loans to create a cooperative pottery business. A group of around 10 women meet together every Thursday and work together to purify clay taken from the Nile riverbed.
‘It’s quite a social experience’ says Rachel Bentley, Director at Children on the Edge, ‘all the women are widows, many are grandmother's looking after up to 10 children, so it’s something that provides relationship for them as well as an income. They sit together and talk while they work on the clay, then they take it to a local potter.’
The potter shapes the clay into pots for them and then the cooperative sell them. The next step is for them to get their own potters wheel, so the cost of production is not taken out of their profits.
This article is written as part of the marking of the 2015 International Women's Day. This year's theme, “Empowering Women - Empowering Humanity: Picture It!" envisions a world where each woman and girl can exercise her choices, such as participating in politics, getting an education, having an income, and living in societies free from violence and discrimination.
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