Katosi Women Entrepreneurs: their story
Traditionally on the shores of Lake Victoria, men earn their living through fishing and women when they could work, through fish processing. In the 1990s - for various reasons, local and global - this way of providing income and a nutricious food source disappeared. The men mostly moved on but the women were less mobile and responsible for the welfare of their children and those too old to work.
Rather than give up and wait for aid, the women formed themselves into the first of 17 self-managed groups which today have nearly 500 members. Katosi Women Development Trust (KWDT), Uganda has been successfully operating with some international funding for 16 years. But what makes these enterprising women different is that they also borrow money from KWDT and pay it back with interest to expand their entrepreneurial activities and KWDT’s operation. Despite many of them being illiterate and often HIV positive, they have learnt to run their own businesses selling bio gas, manure and milk from cows, rearing chickens, owning fishing boats, organic vegetable growing, hairdressing, catering and more. KWDT has also provided food processing operations like yoghurt and soap making as well as training for new occupations such as building rain water tanks and ecosan toilets.
With a “hand up” they have fed their children, sent them to school, created healthier living and benefitted their communities with the provision of safe water and latrines. Economic independence has also increased self-esteem and self- respect, fostering equality and cultural changes which enables the women to have a voice in decision making.
I was so inspired by KWDT Uganda’s work and the integrity of their organisation that a group of us have set up Katosi Women Development Trust UK www.katosi-uk.org to fund and support them. Our priority at the moment is to reduce the long list of women waiting for a cow. In 2013, 11 cows were funded and currently 75 of the 500 women members have a cow.
Please will you fund or part fund an in-calf cow costing £575 and the entrepreneurial Katosi women will do the rest. With more cows, families will be fed, schooled and as employment in the community improves, the production, processing, distribution and marketing opportunities will increase, too.
This is a success story about strong women but they need your help so more women like Lydia can benefit, creating more opportunities for sustainable work. As one woman member said to me “What I have, I want for others”. Please follow the link to our website to “buy a cow” www.katosi-uk.org. We are registered for Gift Aid.
Please forward this to your friends!
At 40 in 2004, I was accepted to join a KWDT group to achieve my dream of owning a cow one day! But friends warned my husband of the dangers of losing control of me now that I was part of the group and he demanded that I leave. When I refused, he took another wife leaving me and our 6 children. I was devastated, but stayed and continued to work hard in my group still hoping to get a cow.
Before I was able to get a cow KWDT trained me to construct rain water harvesting tanks. Each tank earns me £46 and I build 3 to 4 tanks a year. Recently I have been trained to build eco-san toilets as well.
In 2006 my dream of a cow came true when my application to obtain a cow was approved by the group and I a got 4 month old female calf from Phoebe. KWDT gave me the right training and a cow shed and I took a KWDT loan to buy the cow. During the lactation period my cow gives me 6 litres of milk a day, five for sale and one for my family. My annual income from milk is £257. I also earn £57 a year from the sale of male calves and £19 per month from surplus garden vegetables – I now have a surplus because of the cow dung.
I recently had another loan from KWDT for a biogas digester. I simply light up to cook family meals. I will start charging others who flock to my home to teach them how to utilize cow dung and urine to generate biogas. So far, lessons have been free but now I have many people asking me to explain the process.
I am now also one of the leaders of our group taking part in decision making for KWDT programmes.
I have independently met all my family needs with no support since 2006.
Life is good!