WOMEN'S ECONOMIC STRENGTHENING
Women’s economic marginalization and dependency is a key factor that continues to widen gender inequalities. Addressing women’s economic transformation is a catalyst for achieving women’s rights. Women’s economic empowerment can only be achieved by ensuring equality and equity in access to, utilization, and benefit from productive resources and opportunities. There is a need to remove structural barriers to women’s economic empowerment, including addressing gender inequities among women's access to critical finance for business, information, and entrepreneurship skills among other benefits.
Volunteer Action Network works with the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund (WGEF) to implement the credit plus model in Uganda.
Through this program, We create a social network, by investing in women we provide not only economic opportunities, but health education and leadership opportunities as well. This helps women to build livelihoods for their families and communities. The uniqueness of our holistic programming lies in its ability to create platforms for identifying and addressing the challenges facing underserved women in the areas of our operation.
We are dedicated to working with grassroots women who are working every day to create a better future for themselves and their children. They are in villages, markets selling goods, produce, raising livestock, agriculture, rebuilding their communities; participating in community planning meetings, taking care of their children, hauling water, cooking, cleaning, and lobbying for space for their voices to be heard and respected.
BUSINESS SKILL TRAINING
We Support women in Northern Uganda which is a post-conflict region, where women and children experienced horrific violence and chronic poverty. The women in our program are former abductees, forced to become child soldiers for the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army); former sex slaves or ‘wives’ of LRA commanders, have lost many family members, and, for the most part, have been invisible and missed out many opportunities including education.
These women although they are entrepreneurial they are often not successful because they lack training. Our WESP program addresses this obstacle. We want all women to become successful businesswomen and self reliant, so in addition to providing a microloan they receive three days of business training.
Our training includes budgeting, inventory control, record keeping, business planning, writing a business plan, and more. Attendance at this training is mandatory for a woman to receive a loan. After receiving her loan, each borrower comes to the loan center every two weeks to make her loan payment. At the same time, the loan officer gives refresher training, a repeat of one of the lessons from the three days of business training.
We support rural and peri-urban poor women in self-selected groups. The members cross guarantee the loans of each other member in the group. By loaning to these groups, we tap into an already supportive and cooperative atmosphere. Each group in a particular village select a leader (peer counsellor) forward her name to the office.
The selected leader (peer counselor) is provided with leadership training, group dynamics, troubleshooting problems, and conflict resolution among others. After our borrowers receive their microloans, they continue to meet with the other women in their loan group this provides a space for sisterhood. They share success stories, ideas about what’s working, or not working in their businesses.
Peer counselors act as our grassroots support structure and a go-between the office, members, and the community. they address and refer gender-based violence for support to the office. They support and educate each other as they grow and develop as businesswomen.
Since our inception in 2005,
Volunteer Action Network has Provided over 28,000+ microloans including business skills training
Women are the major recipients of microcredit loans because they are a better risk – they have a higher repayment rate and are more responsible with the money. Studies have shown that women are more interested and therefore more likely to improve the lives of their children which includes nutrition, health, and education. Data also suggests that lending to women has a significant increase in food and non-food expenditures per household suggesting that lending to women increases the health and well-being of the entire family.
The only gap is they lack the capital to enable them to start or expand a business to earn a sustainable income, we provide microloans of $50- $300 to start or grow a small business. With their microloans, women invest in agro-business, poultry farming, produce business, sawing business, fish farming on a small scale, small shops, bakeries, restaurants
On average, each borrower supports a family of five. Therefore, each microloan benefits around five people. When the loan is paid back and loaned out again and again, the number of people benefited exponentially multiplies.
Akello, mother of 4 started her retail business in Acet training center using a microloan $60 that she received after attending a business skill training.
"I'm proud that I'm no longer considered as a begar in my family, I support my children's education to give them an opportunity which I missed "
Northern Uganda is in full recovery, with hope for lasting peace and reconciliation are spreading; what is needed now is a comprehensive support package, including access to clean water and sanitation, health services, and education. This is where Volunteer Action Network are impacting the community by providing an opportunity for sustainable human development. The women in our program are leading in their villages and communities, feeding their children, and creating viable businesses;
Through our microloans program, you can connect with hardworking female entrepreneurs who are waiting to realize their dream of building or expanding a successful business. A small loan is all they need. Even better, when the loan is paid off, your donated funds are recycled again and again to help more people and make a bigger impact.