In Bundibugyo, Uganda, many widows and single mothers find themselves involved in illegal activities such as selling poached meat and collecting firewood from the national park, in order to support themselves and their families. They often turn to moneylenders, who abuse the women’s financial and sexual vulnerability, to receive loans. These women are in desperate need of sustainable and legal income generating activities so that they are able to fulfill their needs like educating the children, afford medicine, improve their shelters, improve on nutrition and escape the risk of getting imprisoned as a result of their illegal activity.
Tzedek, with our local partner Life Link Foundation (LLF), runs a project in Bundibugyo which involves training the women in cocoa production, purchasing the necessary equipment for communal use, such as weighing machines, and giving manageable loans at very low interest rate. Cocoa production was the chosen route to a sustainable income at the request of the women involved in the project. They planned and agreed that they would bulk and market their cocoa collectively so that they can keep getting higher prices for their organic cocoa. All the beneficiaries planned that they will divide themselves into solidarity groups who will guarantee themselves and keep watching each other to make sure that they are all doing business and repay back the revolving loan. They also planned to keep saving some profits made by each beneficiary weekly in order to accumulate their capital.
The project is benefiting the 30 women directly. The project is expected to double their income from 60,000 UGX a month (roughly £10.80) to 120,000 UGX a month (£21.60). After 2 years, the number of beneficiaries involved in the project will double, and this rate of increase will continue in following years.
The women will be given a chance to stop involving themselves in illegal activities which may lead to imprisonment as well as protection from individual money lenders who demand sex from those who fail to repay loans. This will reduce prevalence of HIV/AIDS which in turn reduces poverty levels. The project also improves infant and child health care and increases the number of children enrolled in schools.
The project’s cost is £2106