“My dreams for my daughter are so high now!” says Obolio Kol George. He and his wife, Florence, have used profits from heir Village Enterprise business to educate Peace and their five other children, breaking the cycle of poverty and ensuring a better future for their family.
The dusty dirt road that passes through Okwangai stretches for miles before reaching the nearest town. In this small and quiet village in Eastern Uganda, Florence has lifted her family from extreme poverty. At first, Florence seems shy. But when she tells her story, her warmth and passion shine through. Before Village Enterprise she would have feared to speak in public. Not anymore. Now, she is the chairperson of her 45 member business savings group. When Florence entered the Village Enterprise program, she and her husband George struggled to support their six children. However after receiving business and savings training and a small grant, Florence started an agriculture business growing and selling green grams (small peas). Using her profits, she began rearing goats and even recently purchased a cow, which she now hires out to other farmers to plow their fields. Florence and her husband agreed that they should use their business’ profits to ensure that their children received an education. “I never went past primary school,” explains Florence, “so I challenged myself to send all of my children to school so that they would not fall in the same trap as me.” Peace, is their youngest child. She has seen three of her older siblings attend university, and two others excel in secondary school. At 11 years old, she has high hopes for herself. “I love going to school because I know it means I will have a better future,” says Peace. “And when I grow up, I will be a bank manager.”
“I am so grateful for Village Enterprise in our lives,” says Florence. “Without our business and savings we never would have been able to educate our children and give them the bright future that they have now.”
“If you want go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,” -African Proverb
Florence entered the Village Enterprise program in 2013. Since then she has started a successful business, built a permanent home, and sent all of her children school. Through every training session, every business decision, every success and failure, she has never been alone-because Village Enterprise believes in the power of “we.”
Upon starting the Village Enteprise program, each participant chooses two fellow participants to form a business group. Why three? Working together is an important component of success. Business owners can support one another, hold each other accountable, and contri-bute unique skillsets to the group dynamic. Florence explained that she selected her group members because she “felt a sense of unity among them.” And sure enough, three years after harvesting their first yield, the group is still growing and thriving together.
Florence has also been a member of the same Business Savings Group since 2013. After three years of weekly savings meetings, this group has become a thriving community within Okwangai Village. “There is such love and unity in our community now,” says one member.
Our savings groups provide an invaluable source of community and social capital for our business owners as they lift themselves from extreme poverty. Florence’s savings group has nearly doubled their savings in their three years of operation. This year they have saved nearly $7,000.