The majority of households in Kampala’s slums are female-headed and the biggest challenge women face in Uganda is poverty. Living in poverty can lead to child marriages, and gender-based violence. As a result, many women rely on informal ways to generate income such as washing clothes, selling food, or even prostitution. Without a job or a steady stream of income, women are forced to find different ways to make money to feed their families. Girls often cannot complete their education because their parents cannot afford their school fees. Some of these women are exposed to violence because they are jobless and have to depend on men to support their children and themselves.
In a country where only 13.8% of working women are in formal employment compared to 27.9% of working men, entrepreneurship is one of the most effective ways to give women a chance of a brighter future. This was supported by the International Labour Organization (ILO) who stated that “all across Uganda, women entrepreneurs are proving that they have a driving business spirit and that they are part of the solution to achieving economic growth and pulling people out of poverty” (ILO, 2008: 7). According to Mugabi (2014) Ugandan women are more likely than men to be motivated to start a business out of necessity, because they simply have no other means to generate an income. Therefore, developing a supportive environment for women’s entrepreneurship is important to women’s success. We have learnt that women who start their own businesses are empowered because they can create employment for themselves and support other women in the process.
In 2016 we piloted our Women’s Empowerment skills training project with a group of 10 women from Bukoto slum in Kampala. These women received skills training, business knowledge and a knitting and a sewing machine. They started making handmade tailored and knitted products. They used their profits from this to buy a second knitting machine to increase productivity, enabling them to make up to 15 jumpers a day. They used the profits from this and they got a small loan to purchase a third machine for overlocking and finishing the jumpers. This proved so successful that they have now paid back the loan in full and opened a small shop in their community. Due to this success, we want to expand our reach to benefit more women and communities. We are so proud of what all the women have achieved and we want to help them to achieve more.
We are continuing to reach more women from the slums of Kampala and providing them with training and support to generate an income. We spoke to two women who benefited from the programme to hear about the difference it has made in their lives. When asked about this project Irene said:
“We are no longer the way we were. Before Kids Club Kampala came we had nothing, now we have skills. I know I will never go hungry because I know how to make clothes. It has reduced stress in my life and I am so grateful. Now we are empowered and know how to start up a business on our own. We are no longer striving, life is not so hard anymore.”
“I am so grateful to Kids Club Kampala for helping us as women. Kids Club Kampala has given us skills, an active life (we now have things to do to keep us occupied), and the tailoring and knitting skills are so helpful. I have never had the opportunity to go to school or received any formal training but KCK has given me skills. Before, sometimes my children had to go to school in torn uniforms but now I know how to fix them. I have been able to teach others my skills and I now have a great future ahead of me and my family.”
Annet the Project coordinator said:
“Before they were part of the project, the women had nothing and had no hope. Now women have been empowered, they have skills and can earn money for themselves. They have even been able to take their children back to school. They used to be so stressed looking for a job and looking for money all the time but now they can have their own business and make their own living. This project is also reducing the rate of child abandonment in the communities because mothers are able to take care of their children and are not living in despair.”
These stories are a powerful reminder of why our current campaign is so important. The women we spoke to were faced with great challenges but instead of giving up, they are used their God-given gifts to improve their situations. Help us to help more women so we can hear more stories like those of Irene, Anne and Mary. If you would like to help us to raise money to send women in Uganda a sewing machine please click here.
ILO (International Labour Organization) (2008). Voices of women entrepreneurs in Uganda.
Geneva: International Labour Organization.
Mugabi, E. (2014) Women’s Entrepreneurship Development in Uganda : Insights and Recommendations . International Labour Office – Geneva: ILO.