Turning community problem gaps and needs into opportunities for income generation is slowly gaining tempo in the Ugandan economy especially local communities. These ventures amongst others include recycling waste materials into reusable items as avenues of saving the environment whilst earning an income. Whereas there exist a multitude of entreprenual opportunities for women both formal and informal, majority remain out of reach largely because of inadequate financial literacy, knowledge and biased attitudes among other factors. Nevertheless, amidst these situations, women harbour dreams and aspirations of financial freedom and ultimately an improved standard of living for themselves, their children and families.

Cognizant of this reality, Action for Development (ACFODE) in partnership with the British Council and with Support from the European Union is currently training women leaders in four districts of Northern and West Nile regions of Uganda in social entrepreneurship. Target districts include Pader, Apac, Oyam and Nebbi. The four days training spread out in the month of March 2015 is aimed to enable women leaders identify and utilise their individual skills, knowledge, passion and talents to initiate social economic enterprises. Unlike the more “familiar” entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship involves the art, general process and overall culture of forming innovative solutions to society’s most pressing needs. It is a new way of identifying solutions and developing opportunities within the social sector using a people, planet and profit approach. By creating and building something of community value using entrepreneur/business skills, social entrepreneurs build strong and sustainable enterprises. Social enterprises are not entirely motivated by profit but focus on creating social and economic value. Besides indentifying opportunities, problem gaps and challenges in their environment, social entrepreneurship enables one put to economic use their passion and talents in social economic enterprises thereby earning an income.

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Right – Ms Irene Mutumba, a facilitator stresses a point during one of the trainings.

Filling the problem gap between public and private provision of services and products is partly the rationale for social entrepreneurship through which the most pressing community needs which may be goods or services are made readily available by providing innovative but simple solutions which support poverty reduction, unemployment and ensure growth and development overtime. Social entrepreneurships thrive on principles and values of people and work, independent management, democratic decision making processes and collective ownership which many women would relate and subscribe to.

A total of 135 women leaders from the districts of Oyam, Nebbi and Apac have so far benefitted from the trainings whose overriding goal is to increase women leaders’ access to livelihood opportunities.

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Left- a participant from Oyam District during the experience sharing session 

Through practical saving and community mapping sessions, women leaders trained have realised that there exist many opportunities and prospects within their communities that they can take advantage of to initiate income generating enterprises. This could be done at an individual level or group of individuals with a shared and common interest. Importantly, starting a social enterprise doesn’t necessarily have to be strenuous for one, as personal or group savings over time can enable one start their enterprise depending on the community demand coupled with ones vision. By working together, group members learn from each other’s experiences and virtues of hard work, empathy, persistence, patience, positive attitude, creativity, innovation, confidence, courage, networking and business skills, negotiation, ethics and integrity to operate thriving enterprises. Through social enterprises, women are in position to put all available resources like land, labour, capital and time to productive use and earn a living along with accessing opportunities in government and the private sector.

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Participants in a group photo

Yossa Immaculate Daisy

Programme officer

ACFODE

yossa@acfode.org

Social Enterprises: A Viable Option to Women’s Financial Challenges and Economic Empowerment

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