|As mothers of young families, Edith Nakiyemba and Mirabu Mokoda say that a few years ago it would have been ‘unthinkable’ for them to be able to borrow money to start their own businesses.|
But as founder members of the Bamukiisa savings and credit co-operative (SACCO) established by Self Help Africa in Namwendwa district in Uganda three years ago, the window of opportunity was opened for both of them.
32-year old Edith, a mother of seven, established a small enterprise buying and selling agricultural produce, before using the profits to purchase a second-hand sewing machine and renting a small premises in which to set up a local tailoring business.
“I do alternations for people and also make dresses and suits for people for special occasions,” she says. Edith has used the revenue she has generated from her dress making to diversify her income even further too and after initially purchasing three female goats she has built her herd up to six in the past year.
She is a member of a small women’s development group in the village and is involved in efforts to set up a parish-based savings and credit co-op for Bamukiisa.
Mirabu Mokoda used her first loan from the village SACCO to develop a small retail trading post in Bugobi and returned to the co-op for further loan support when she decided to trade agricultural inputs and produce in her business, alongside household goods.
A mother of six young children, Mirabu says that until the SACCO was created she would have had no chance of borrowing money for any purpose at all. “I had nothing that I could offer as security against a loan, but now I have a business, and have also started my own herd of goats,” she says. The creation by Self Help Africa of a micro-finance programme had allowed dozens of women in Bugobi to get their feet onto the ladder and move beyond subsistence, she says.