Busoga sub-region has always been on the top of the areas facing maximum poverty in Uganda despite being promised a lot of developmental programs from the government.
In a bid, therefore, to abstain from the scaring economy, locals have embarked on creating Village Saving and Loan Association (VISLA) groups. In the sub-counties of Butagaya, Namagera, Buwenge and others in Jinja district, many local groups have been developed as saving is the order of the day among the members.
However, the non-government First African Bicycle Information Organization (FABIO), has donated bicycles, sewing machines, saving boxes and books to the groups to facilitate the journey of development which were specifically given to “teenage mothers and fathers”, who were trained various skills.
While at the handover of the donations at Mabira village in Butagaya subcounty Jinja district, FABIO’s monitoring and evaluation officer, Ms Annet Weere, said they are aimed at phasing out poverty in Busoga and Uganda in particular.
“These bicycles and sewing machines that we have given them shall help them to ensure smooth running of their businesses,” Weere added that this is an economic empowerment FABIO is looking at to sustain these groups and boost their businesses.
Weere asked the groups to use the best skills and knowledge given to them to maximize their economic projects.
“This is not done only in Jinja district, we have groups in Kamuli (Magogo subcounty) and we want even to extend it to other districts. We gave bicycles to students in Kamuli and their parents were given startup capital to facilitate students’ studies,” Weere noted while asking the beneficiaries to handle the items with care.
Cadre Abudallah Suuta, the Butagaya subcounty boss, who appreciated FABIO for the tremendous works, urged teenage mothers to use their experience as a lesson though it was not their intensions.
He said, “these items are expensive. Don’t take the bicycle and just sit with it at home, use them as intended because a few people can do this for you to upskill your day to day living”
“Don’t receive men’s money again because you will pay for it. You either attract pregnancy or HIV. Once you deny and concentrate on your businesses don’t expect the two. Boys don’t use this as a campaigning tool to corn others’ wives and girls,” Suuta advised.
VISLA specialist and facilitator, Mr Noah Namwano, in charge of training the groups, asked them to regularly save, attend meetings and carefully take records for smooth running of associations.
Namwano cautioned members against borrowing non-members and asked them to give money to participants at a low interest of 5-10 percent.
Charles Kiige, Mabira village chairperson, who is also a member in a one “Mabira FABIO group”, said the organization has helped locals to develop through the education and sensitization they do carryout.
“I have built my house, I rear hens, paid school fees for my children and am still paying through these savings we do. FABIO has exposed me to various types of people as they take us to different places for training,” said Kiige.
“I ask FABIO to help us with irrigation equipment. We are surrounded by water but our vegetables are destroyed during dry seasons,” he said.
A 18-year-old teenage mother, Siyati Nangote, who dropped out of school in primary seven, expressed determination of saving. She said her business of selling make-up (for women) is helping her with her 3-year-old child.