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Namande laid fertile ground for Naguru women entrepreneurs

By Vision Reporter

Added 13th March 2013 11:44 AM

At the Naguru stage, off Nakawa Market, everyone knows Rose Namande although locals prefer calling her Jajja or Aunt Rose. From the boda boda cyclist to the women in the market, hers is a household name.

Namande laid fertile ground for Naguru women entrepreneurs

At the Naguru stage, off Nakawa Market, everyone knows Rose Namande although locals prefer calling her Jajja or Aunt Rose. From the boda boda cyclist to the women in the market, hers is a household name.

By Joyce Nyakato

At the Naguru stage, off Nakawa Market, everyone knows Rose Namande although locals prefer calling her Jajja or Aunt Rose. From the boda boda cyclist to the women in the market, hers is a household name.

Having been a teacher since the 1970s, many parents in Naguru interacted with her at one time or another as their children passed through her hands. Most importantly, she has been a voice of the women in the area, teaching them a lot of things about empowerment through the Nakawa Blessed Savings And Credit Co-operative (SACCO).

The beneficiaries

Hannah Atim, one of the SACCO members, who lives in Mutungo, owns a grocery shop that has benefitted from the SACCO.

“I have been able to get loans to improve my businesses,” she says. Even with the recent financial turmoil she has been through, where she lacked money to pay for her children’s school fees, she is happy the SACCO has stood with her through thick and thin.

How it all started

Namande grew up with her sister, whom she called mummy, in the dingy suburb of Nakawa. That is when she got the feel of the work done by women.

The sister who was a member of the Young Women Christians Association (YWCA) was engaged in many volunteer activities of the association.

The two moved a lot from village to village reaching out to women and that is where she picked the spirit of reaching out to others. After high school, Namande trained as a teacher, specialising in infants before relocating to the Naguru suburb.

As a Sunday school teacher, Namande did a lot, instilling morals in the children she taught. At the same time, she continued with her voluntary work of teaching and equipping women in the neighbouring parishes with life skills.

As she volunteered with YWCA, she learnt a lot about baking using local charcoal stoves and making uniforms.  That time, there was no nursery school in the area, so the local authorities handed over Naguru Infant School to her, on condition that she would develop it. 

Namande used part of the school as a meeting venue for women, who would come over to learn different skills like bakery. She knew that equipping women with hands-on skills would enable them to send their children to school.

The women would meet at the school every Saturday to learn different things. Since Namande was still a member of YWCA, she continued learning different skills like peace building, empowerment and saving, which she would share with the women.

Even when the women failed to make it, she would use her own money she earned from the uniforms she made to carry out outreaches.

Because of the positive impact her outreaches had on the communities, the school committee agreed to meet her transport costs in the neighbouring areas.

When the LC system came in place in the 1980s, Namande was unanimously elected the LCI woman councillor. Shortly after, she became the LC2 councillor and then the LC3 councillor.

Birth of the SACCO

As the LC3 councillor, she had a working committee of five women who were very keen on the issues of women empowerment.

“We wanted to uplift the status of women by helping them become economically independent and the best way to achieve this was by helping them start income-generating projects and teaching them to save,” she recalls.

It is this urge that gave birth to Nakawa Blessed SACCO. The committee realised that many women needed a financial boost to grow their businesses and acquire loans at a lower interest rate was perfect option.

In their sessions, they suggested a number of projects from which the members would pick according to their capability, and encouraged them to invest their money in ventures that give returns.

To become a member of the SACCO, women are required to pay sh5,000. The group also encourages members to buy shares at sh10,000 each. Women are encouraged to deposit sh10,000 every week in savings.

Although the group meets once a month, the members deposit their weekly savings at their offices at Naguru Infant School. The SACCO, which started in 2009, was registered by the Ministry of Trade as a fully-fledged SACCO, audited by the Government.

The group that started with 30 members has since grown to 150, although some are inactive. Namande happily shares her sewing skills with other members, which has helped her maintain the school for all these years. She looks after orphans who have sponsors, but lack where to live.

Challenges

A major challenge the SACCO is facing is the inability by some members to service their loans. Some of them relocate to other places after defaulting on payment, to the disadvantage of the dedicated members.

“The money we give out in loans is part of the members’ savings so, when the some people default, it is a loss to the members.

When the SACCO started, many people thought it was free money from the Government and we had to come in and explain how SACCOs work. Those who understood the operations have made it a point to pay back and they are benefitting,” Namande says.

Plans

In future, Namande wants to put in place strict guidelines to curb the problem of defaulting on loan payment. As a result, the SACCO would be able to grow the pool of finances from which women in the division can borrow.

Namande laid fertile ground for Naguru women entrepreneurs

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