In Kyaka II refugee settlement in Uganda, we support teachers from our early years programme to set up their own businesses by providing small business loans. Read about how this initiative works and meet Martha, who used her £40 loan to set up a thriving sewing business.
EARLY YEARS PROGRAMME
In Kyaka II refugee settlement, Uganda, our early years education programme is working with local communities to provide education to over 4000 of the youngest children.
Our award-winning Cluster Learning Model offers small group lessons for children aged 3-6, outside, near their homes in ‘cluster groups’. There are currently 198 cluster groups operating in 40 different study areas across five zones of the settlement.
A key component of the programme is to involve the whole community, so that early years education can be sustained after we have gone. Local people are trained to teach as ‘caregivers’, so the children can learn in a familiar, safe environment, with adults who speak their language.
Experienced caregivers are given regular extra training to become ‘Trainers of Teachers’ (ToTs), otherwise known as ‘Superteachers’ who then support and train newer caregivers and offer mentorship and advice.
Parents and community members are also involved in Cluster Learning Management Committees and get fully involved in the management and running of the cluster groups in their communities.
MICROLOANS - THE KEY TO SUSTAINABILITY
All caregivers are given stipends and training, but run the cluster classes voluntarily, without a salary. So, to make the programme as sustainable as possible, and ensure that caregivers are able to support themselves and their families’ financially, we offer ‘microloans’. Microloans are also open to parents, and the system is inherently owned by the community.
HOW DO MICROLOANS WORK?
Small business loans of UGX 200,000 (around £43) are given to recipients, alongside some training so that they can invest in setting up their own small business which bring in vital income for their families and enable them to keep teaching or supporting their children.
This summer, 198 caregivers were supported to form their own ‘Caregiver Zonal Groups’ in the respective zones of the settlement where they live and work. Through these groups each caregiver receives a small business loan, together with business and financial training.
The groups are registered as financial institutions with their own bank accounts and the members themselves disburse the loans to individual caregivers, to be paid back within six months at 10% interest, in order to grow funds and support more businesses.
Parents have been expressing how difficult it is for them to financially support the cluster groups when they have so little money themselves. As a result, we now have parent and community ‘Village Loans and Savings Associations’ (VLSA) groups, so members can save to buy materials for cluster groups, contribute to teacher stipends and generate their own business loans. 15 study areas have started parent VSLAs so far, and others are in the process of being formed.
With this decentralised loans system, we aim to better serve our wider goal of establishing community ownership and sustainability, not only for the programme, but to improve the economy and quality of life across the camp.