Joshua works as the Programs Manager in Advocacy for John Paul ii Justice and Peace Centre, promoting awareness and providing creative responses to issues of Justice and Peace throughout Uganda. He gained a Bachelors degree in Education, majoring in economics and history, and a Masters in Peace & Conflict Studies.
Joshua is also a co-founder of Hope for Life Katanga.
By Joshua Mutebe
In Uganda it is the women that hold the household together, yet it is the women that are discriminated against. It is with this in mind that the founders of Hope for Life Katanga identified women as their direct beneficiaries.
Cognisant of the above reality, in 2013 Hope for Life Katanga started a livelihoods program to benefit women and children living in Katanga slum, characterised by three approaches:
- Capacity building through trainings in business skills, financial literacy etc.
- Provision of business grant as startup capital for establishing an income generating business.
- Thirdly, business mentoring and monitoring of the established businesses in order to encourage continuous existence of ongoing businesses.
We have observed through our work over the past five years that there exist a multitude of entrepreneurial opportunities for women, both formal and informal, with the majority of these opportunities remaining out of reach for women in Katanga, largely because of inadequate financial literacy, and insufficient skills and knowledge to initiate income generating activities, as well as low levels of formal education and biased attitudes surrounding the community. Nevertheless, amidst these situations, Hope for Life with its women beneficiaries harbour dreams and aspirations of financial freedom and ultimately an improved standard of living for themselves, their children and families.
To improve the status of women living in Katanga slum, we realised that we needed to build their financial and social strength. To achieve this, together with the mothers of the children benefiting in our education program, we at Hope for Life initiated a livelihoods program to empower women in Katanga slum to acquire knowledge and skills necessary to live improved, self-reliant livelihoods through specific entrepreneurship/micro-enterprise development, capacity-building and training programs.
Furthermore, we teach the women the skill and art of making beautiful necklaces, handbags from local materials. We buy the products under 'fair-trade' then ship and sell them in and out of Uganda. The profits allow us to support the on-going activities of the centre and support the women to raise their financial and social status
Consequently, women became financially literate and decided to start a Savings And Credit Co-operative (SACCO) through Hope for Life Katanga. The women also learnt financial management once a month to manage their finances with confidence. Some women would save between UGX 5,000-7,000 (£1.25-1.75) a month, which they later take up as micro loans to themselves in turns. Both the saved amount plus interest are there after shared amongst the group. These trainings and savings groups empower the women financially and allow them to gain control of their own income, something rare within male-dominated families. As a result of this initiative, Hope for Life was able to get several testimonies of changes in the lives and welfare of women. Some women started their own businesses, whilst some expanded existing business, with the majority providing for some of their families' bigger needs.
As we move forward, we at Hope for Life have realised that there exists many opportunities and prospects within Katanga as a slum and even elsewhere in the neighbouring communities that women can take advantage of to initiate income generating enterprises; where group members learn from each other’s experiences and virtues of: hard work, empathy, persistence, patience, positive attitude, creativity, innovation, confidence, courage, networking and business skills, negotiation, ethics and integrity to operate thriving enterprises. Therefore starting a social enterprise that equally fulfils the vision and mission of Hope for Life Katanga, could be done at an individual level or group of individuals with a shared and common interest could be one way to reach the majority of women directly and indirectly. Furthermore, through such a social enterprise, women will be in position to put all available resources like land, labour, capital and time to productive use and earn a living along with accessing opportunities in government and the private sector.
It doesn't take much to be a business investor, supporting a family in Uganda out of poverty, towards living a self-sufficient life. If you feel you would like to support a woman in earning a living with as little as £5/month then get in touch with us using the form below.