Started Her First Business in 2011
Juliet excuses herself from class and exits the classroom where she teaches kindergarten in Ngora, a rural village in eastern Uganda. She has a round and healthy-looking face, a trait she is proud of and credits to the moment in 2011 when Margaret Aluka, a Village Enterprise business mentor, invited her to join a program that would teach her about starting a business and saving money.
Before that moment, Juliet’s life was a challenge. She only ate one meal a day, usually porridge in the evening, but sometimes she only took tea because she needed to save food for her three children. When she fell ill, she couldn’t afford medication, school uniforms were not affordable, and there was extreme drought, which meant growing food was nearly impossible and any food they did manage to grow was unmarketable because their community was penniless. She couldn’t imagine her life being any different. Yet eight years after rearing sheep and starting a pork joint with her business partners Aisu Joseph and Okello Francis, Juliet’s life is far from the reality she and her family once endured.
Originally the three business owners bought a few lambs, which quickly multiplied and turned into many, many sheep. Then they sold the ewes, shared the profits, and decided to begin buying and selling pork as a way to diversify their enterprise. This was the beginning of their pork joint in Ngora. After some time, once the business had become well established, Juliet approached Aisu Joseph and Okello Francis and asked if they would be willing to help her return to school. They agreed.
In 2015, after enrolling in a teaching program near her home and attending classes while raising her three children and helping with the pork joint, Juliet graduated a teacher. This job comes with a monthly salary, which creates peace of mind for her and the entire family. She said she wanted to return to school to become a nursery school teacher because she wants to bring up others and to encourage the youth. “I love the work of being a nursery school teacher. It was my dream to be a teacher to produce more great people. They’ll be the next Members of Parliament and doctors of Uganda.”
Without the pork joint and the strong community that formed due to the BSG, Juliet would never have accomplished this big achievement. She now lives in a brick house that her husband built, has multiple cows, and her children are in school now, something that wasn’t possible before the business. When asked how they felt when Juliet asked if they would help her return to school, Aisu Joseph and Okello Francis said it “gave them pride and happiness that one of their members managed to go back to school.”
Since the start of the business eight years ago, the three have hired people to operate the pork joint and they used some of their profits to buy 325 citrus trees. Now they own a massive orchard and will sell the fruit to buyers who come from Rwanda and Kenya. They all noted that they are happy to have businesses that generate money all year long. They are very happy to have money because it’s a form of pride to be able to meet their needs. “Village Enterprise helped us a lot, most especially me,” Juliet said. The biggest change she noticed? “My body has changed. I can take milk and meat now. I used to be so small. I never thought I’d be like this.”