Beatrice Nabwera and Halima Wanyonyi sit on a small grey tarp, picking the individual kernels off of a large pile of maize. They hardly seem to notice my approach, so focused on the task at hand, but when their eyes finally look up, Beatrice lets out a surprised “mzungu” and leaps off the ground to enthusiastically shake my hand.
In November of 2014, Business Mentor Rasheed Wanjala identified Beatrice and Halima as individuals whom qualify to participate in the Village Enterprise program. It has been 11 months since the two business partners started the training program, and the growth of their business has been remarkable.
Ripe, green capsicum (green peppers) hang from the vine. While the duo has primarily used the funds from the Village Enterprise start-up grant towards the growth of capsicum, they have also strategically used the profits from their business to begin planting other vegetables. As Rasheed pointed out, “This is a business that is profitable and sustainable. When the capsicum is already growing, they begin planting tomato and kale on the side.”
Rows of tree seedlings at different stages of growth emerge from black plastic bags. Beatrice and Halima are also the owners of a successful tree nursery. The women purchase seeds at the local market and raise the tree seedlings until they are healthy enough to be sold and planted elsewhere. These indigenous trees are not only helpful to provide refuge from the bright sun, but also to soak up excess water in the soil of swampy areas.
Beatrice and Halima both spoke of the changes that their households have witnessed since launching their business. Prior to participating in Village Enterprise, both women struggled to provide basic needs for their families. Halima shared “Today, we can purchase sugar and clothing for our families. This is very, very good.”
But for Beatrice, the most significant change differs. She proudly shared “my son is in University studying Business and Commerce.” She continued, “When I see profits from our business, I can now help pay for his school fees and accommodation.” Her hope is to continue expanding the business so she can support the educational aspirations of her other children as well.
Beatrice and Halima both give me warm hugs. As I stroll back to the main road, Beatrice taps on my shoulder from behind and hands me a large bag full of ripe capsicum and says “Karibu tena” (You are welcome, again).