Last weekend I had the pleasure of travelling the long, dusty, bumpy road to Bushenyi, west of Kampala, where a group of Bushenyi businesswomen (and businessmen!) graciously invited us to their monthly meeting. The differences between Kampala and Bushenyi were what one would expect. Bushenyi was slower, quieter, and gentler. I administered a survey to the businesspeople I met, and when it came to the question, “Is your financial/accounting system by hand or by computer?” they laughed out loud. Some had never even seen a computer!Lillian Kabazeyo organized our meetings. I was, as usual, intrigued by her story.
Lillian Kabazeyo started her poultry farm in 2005 to supplement her income and pay her children’s school fees. After a two-week workshop on sustainable agriculture, she purchased 300 chickens with less than 5 million shillings (about US$2,200). When she sold those chickens and their eggs, she raised an additional 4 million shillings. She now has over 700 cocks, layers and other chickens.
According to Kabazeyo, training has been essential to her success. Training from Uganada Women Entrepreneurs Association Ltd and other organizations in financial management, business planning, project management and other areas has had a tangible benefit for her business. In fact, she is now such a firm believer in business planning that she says, “Those who make losses haven’t made plans.” Her current target is to reach 1000 chickens by the end of the year.
But Kabazeyo lacks the capital she needs to mechanize and grow. None of her assets are in her name, so she has no collateral. Her husband must accompany her to sign all documents, and – as culture dictates – she must turn over funds she receives to him on his request. According to Kabazeyo, “women are silent.”
Kabazeyo herself is soft-spoken, but not silent. She is the leader of the Mothers Union in her diocese, and uses her position to sensitize women about their rights – to education, to health, to inheritance. Kabazeyo and other community leaders took their problems to Mary Busingye Karooro Okuruf, Member of Parliament for Bushenyi District, who helped them start a bank for women that requires no collateral.
Like many UWEAL members, Kabazeyo doesn’t think twice about using her to uplift the community. According to Kabazeyo, Bushenyi has too many malnourished children. Although there is a lot of food in Bushenyi, most parents sell the food. Depend on matooke, which doesn’t have all the nutrients needed for healthy development.
Kabazeyo heads UWEAL’s Bushenyi arm in the western region of Uganda.
Posted By Annika Allman
Posted Aug 26th, 2010