Unlocking rural entrepreneurship in Western Uganda
Between 2016 and 2019, Village Enterprise’s graduation programme provided 2,700 extremely poor individuals (mostly women) living in Western Uganda with access to seed capital, business and financial literacy and saving training, followed by ongoing mentoring, leading to the creation of 900 three-person sustainable micro-businesses and 90 savings groups. Income generated by the new microenterprises indirectly impacted the lives of 18,000 individuals, addressing critical family needs.
Despite having recently emerged as a key player in Uganda’s oil industry, Hoima District in Western Uganda continues to struggle with high poverty rates and over 10% of its population (about 60,000 people) still live below the national poverty line.
Between 2016 and 2019, Village Enterprise enrolled 2,700 extremely poor individuals (mostly women) living in Hoima District in its cost-effective microenterprise graduation programme with the aim of helping them develop sustainable livelihoods.
Village Enterprises identified the participants through a participatory wealth ranking exercise and used the Poverty Probability Index developed by Innovations for Poverty Action, ensuring it selected people who were living on under $1.90 a day, had no prior business experience and were unable to provide for their family’s basic needs.
The graduation programme provided participants with a combination of cash transfers ($150), business and financial literacy training, ongoing mentoring by a local business mentor and support for the formation of savings groups that enabled members to pool savings and access loans, serving as a safety net and support group.
During these three years, 900 three-person business units were established, as well as 90 formal savings groups, resulting in the empowerment of 2,700 individuals.
A recent Randomized Controlled Trial has shown that Village Enterprise’s graduation programme leads to increased consumption, assets and income, as well as improvements in nutrition and subjective well-being.
“Look at me now. You’d never recognise me if you'd met me before!
People around me often seem surprised by my achievements, in particular by the money I’m able to save. They keep asking me how the savings group works, what the rules are and how we manage to run a restaurant and save money at the same time. I tell them it’s all about discipline and respecting the rules”.
“My life has changed a lot since we opened the shop. I didn’t have any income before, while now I can buy some food or use the money for my children’s school fees. Now I am able to support my family, like my husband does. The money I make at the shop helps us through to the end of the month when my husband receives his salary.”