Focus Issues

Leveraging the Village Enterprise poverty Graduation model to achieve multiple benefits.

Woman holding plants to be replanted

Protecting the Environment

Village Enterprise includes a sustainability curriculum in all our areas of operations. By supplementing business training with conservation training, we help our business owners make a living without exploiting natural resources.

Since partnering with the Jane Goodall Institute in 2007 to bring our Graduation model to the Budungo Forest, a critical chimpanzee habitat in western Uganda, Village Enterprise has adapted its model to aid in endangered wildlife conservation. By providing an alternative steady income to the rural poor, Village Enterprise can help reduce illegal activities such as selling bushmeat, timber, or ivory.

Village Enterprise has brought this strategy to the Hoima District community forests and Kiryandongo area of Uganda, the Kakamega and Kisere forests in Kenya, and the Lomako area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. These initiatives involved working with many impressive organizations such as DEFRA, International Institute for Environment and Development, Uganda Wildlife Authority, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Budongo Conservation Field Station, the Uganda Conservation Foundation, Arcus Foundation, African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), and Kenya Wildlife Services.

Facilitating Market Linkages

Developing market system integration approaches that reach the very bottom of the pyramid is increasingly becoming a priority in order to improve the profitability and sustainability of our microenterprises.

Village Enterprise is currently running two pilots, one connecting Ugandan business owners to the cotton market, and one connecting Kenyan business owners to the French bean market.  Business groups involved in these pilots use their grant money to buy seeds and grow either cotton or French beans, which will then be purchased directly from farmers by Gulu Agricultural Development Company (GADC) in Uganda or Farm Africa and VegPro in Kenya.  Both GADC and VegPro are deeply committed to improving the agri-businesses of our farmers and provide farming materials and agronomic advice, in addition to purchasing their products. Participating business owners have expressed peace of mind and a willingness to try diversifying their business, since they know they have a guaranteed buyer for their crops. Read our blogpost for more about our cotton program.

“Village Enterprise is community-centered, data-driven, and collaborative. All of these attributes make them an ideal partner to fight inequity with. We believe that real, transformative change comes through addressing the multi-faceted social determinants of health. Combining our efforts, we are seeing long-term changes in our clients’ lives.”

Ash Rogers, Executive Director, Lwala Community Alliance

Advocating for Health Initiatives

By partnering with organizations focused on heath-based initiatives, Village Enterprise provides both financial training and the knowledge and resources to improve health to business owners. Currently, Village Enterprise and Lwala Community Alliance have joined forces to address both health and economic development issues in the Migori county of southwest Kenya. Village Enterprise provides its poverty Graduation program, while Lwala offers community-led health initiatives. By constructing hygiene tools like WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) stations with a tippy tap for hand washing, a covered pit latrine, an enclosed bathing area, and a dish drying rack in their homes, business owners dramatically decrease the risk of disease for all living in their community. A healthier community means business owners can focus on their work and family, without worrying about dangerous illnesses.

Fostering Financial Inclusion

Often the poor remain or slide back into poverty due to financial setbacks, such as a medical illness or the death of a loved one. Savings Groups are increasingly recognized as a valuable vehicle for helping the “unbanked” transcend extreme poverty. Our business savings groups (BSGs) provide a safe place to save money, take out business loans and access interest-free financing for family emergencies, thus acting as both insurance a source of capital. Additionally, we teach our BSGs about formal financial institutions they can use to gain greater access to financial capital. We collaborate with Ugandan and Kenyan financial institutions that offers various products and services to those who need it most.

Village Enterprise became an early adopter in the “savings revolution” by adding this component to our model in 2011. Across Kenya and Uganda, each BSG saved an average of $1,000 in 2018! In 2014, we participated in a MasterCard Foundation research study of practices and possibilities in savings groups and provided extensive data on the needs and preferences of 139 of our savings group members in Uganda.

Village Enterprise Business Savings Group with box labeled "Save money. Live Better."