Monthly Archives: April 2017

Umoja Youth Group hosts Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development in Uganda

Umoja Youth Group was honoured to showcase their business during a visit to Moroto District by the Minister for Gender, Labor and Social Development, Honourable Janet Mukwaya, from 7th to 8th April, 2017. Umoja Youth Group is an AAH Uganda beneficiary.

The objective of the Minister’s visit was to assess the implementation of the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) and Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP). AAH Uganda is implementing the UWEP and YLP initiatives in partnership with UN Women in the Karamoja Economic Empowerment Project (KEEP).

Uganda’s Minister for Gender, Labor and Social Development, Hon. Janet Mukwaya, (in blue wrap) arriving at the venue

Umoja Youth Group, made up of 12 women, was selected to participate based on their compelling story and group solidarity. They are among AAH Uganda’s first loan beneficiaries in phase one of KEEP. They received funds in 2016, and they were given business and life skills training besides getting routine support supervision and mentoring on keep business records, how to grow and diversify their businesses and how to retain customers. They trade in cereals (maize and sorghum) and handicrafts (beads to make necklaces and bangles and to decorate walking sticks and shawls). Their business is currently worth UGX 5,376,000. The group has already deposited profits worth UGX 1,000,000 to their group account, and project income returns of UGX 6,000,000 and a net profit of UGX 1,215,000 in 2017.

“The training, technical support and mentorship, and start-up capital from UN Women through AAH Uganda to finance our maize and sorghum business was a great boost to get us on track to being businesswomen. We are able to finance our alternative handicraft joint business and small-scale micro businesses for our members from the business profits,” said the group’s chairperson in her welcome remarks. “Our business was once completely vandalized by thieves. But we are determined to grow and to success despite the any challenges.”

“We are excited to learn from this partnership. We thank AAH Uganda for complementing the Government of Uganda in financing women business enterprises. The testimonies and impact I have heard about today are overwhelming,” concluded Brenda Malinga, the UWEP National Programme Coordinator.

Umoja Youth Group members making bracelets

The Minister thanked AAH Uganda and UN Women for collaborating with the district trainers in Moroto in selecting beneficiaries, training the women in business and life skills and mentoring the groups towards successful business management. “We will work with UN Women to look into ways to increase support to women groups to allow them venture in value addition. I encourage groups to adopt and use universal and national standards and to continuously improve their products. I urge UN Women and AAH Uganda to support groups in branding their products as one way of increasing their competitiveness.”

When explaining the involvement of Moroto district in the project through the District Project Steering Committee, District Community Development Officer Margret Lolem said they are proud and honoured to partner with AAH Uganda. “We held consultations with local government livelihood/business trainers and customized the UWEP training manual to train loan beneficiaries in the project. This model is working. The use of district trainers and mentors in supporting the groups has built synergies of working and learning. The partnership is mutually beneficial.”

The use of district trainers and mentors in supporting the groups has built synergies of working and learning. The partnership is mutually beneficial

Other guests in attendance included Brenda Malinga, UWEP National Coordinator, Naumo Juliana, Commissioner of Culture and Children Affairs in the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, Frank Tumwebaze YLP Programme Manager, John Engabi, UWEP Programme Officer, Eastern region, William Tumwine, UWEP Manager in-charge of Projects, Frank Mugabi, Communications Officer, Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development/UWEP, Francis Onyait, UWEP Programme Officer, Karamoja region, Peter Ken Locap, RDC Moroto district, Andrew LCV Chairperson Moroto district, Margret Lomem, District Community Development Officer, all CDOs of Moroto district and journalists.

Yemeni refugee running pastry business in Somaliland

Cakes, sweets and cookies are decadently spread out at his shop at the market corner.

For over one year now Eskander has been selling these sweet pastries, the main source of his income. Eskander Hussein Afif is a Yemeni refugee living in Sheikh Madar, a small town east of Hargeisa. He came to Hargeisa, Somaliland in June 2015, one month after the Yemeni civil war broke out. With his family he travelled 16 hours by ship from Aden to Berbera in Somaliland.

Eskander is among 359 Persons of Concern (PoCs) and refugees who were direct beneficiaries of 85 businesses established in 2015 in by AAHI in partnership with UNHCR. The businesses were established at the completion of an AAHI facilitated a three-day business skills training in October 2015. 58 PoCs and refugees acquired skills in business start-up, risk management, savings and record keeping.

Upon completion of the training, Eskander received USD$ 1,500 and started off his a pastry and sweets business in Hargeisa. Eskander was selected to receive the grant based on the project’s suite of selection criteria, such as the viability of his business plan. He also portrayed strong motivation and commitment in his application material.

“I have been able to provide for my family and meet their needs, in addition to accumulating savings to cushion slow business days,” says Eskander. “I get an average daily income of between USD$15 and USD$20, from which I can pay my house rent. My family’s life is good. It puts a smile on my face when I listen to my children learning English through reading visual charts that I bought from the pastry business profit.”

Through monitoring and counseling, 63 of the 85 individual businesses reaching 281 individuals continue to generate income and make profit 12 months after they were started. This points to an impact indicator of 74%, which can be attributed to a six-week follow-up on developing business plans and sustaining businesses, offered by AAHI in Somaliland through the support of UNHCR.

Eskander has big plans. He wants to invest in an additional extension shade for the gas cylinders at the bakery. He also plans to purchase an additional oven in order to increase production and meet rising demand.

“I am happy that I own a business. Because of AAHI my family has daily food and a place to rest,” he concludes.