SCALING UP WOMEN’S ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND LEADERSHIP SKILLS
The project was implemented with support from the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) and the focus was on empowering women farmer groups and women associations through entrepreneurship development and leadership skills.
PROJECT TITLE: SCALING UP WOMEN’S ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT AND LEADERSHIP SKILLS
The project was implemented with support from the African Women Development Fund (AWDF) and the focus was on empowering women farmer groups and women associations through entrepreneurship development and leadership skills. The project was implemented in 2 phases. The first phase focused on enhancing Women’s Entrepreneurship Development and Leadership Skills and ran from 2013 until 2014 second phase focused on scaling up Women’s entrepreneurship Development and Leadership Skills and ran in 2015. The project purpose was to train selected women farmer groups and women entrepreneurs through their associations in entrepreneurship development and value chain management, and also to establish networks among trained women with organizations that address the needs of grassroots women in agriculture and access to land. The project objectives were to: increase women’s participation in income generating activities/commercial enterprises; enhance productivity, ensure food security and product quality for famer groups and their communities; promote the start up or improvement of women led businesses and their long-term survival; promote the participation of women in decision making and governance structures.
The project target was women farmer groups in Buikwe and Mayuge Districts in Uganda. CEEWA-Uganda has been promoting agriculture as a business and it integrates entrepreneurship development in its interventions to enable women farmer groups and individuals to become entrepreneurs and improve on the performance of their enterprises. It was discovered that all the farmer groups CEEWA-Uganda had worked with were involved in agriculture as a business and were faced with challenges including; inadequate land, high cost of animal feeds, cost of labor, lack of business management skills, inadequate capital to start and expand their businesses, lack of knowledge to add value and to improve on the standards of their products. In addition, within the groups some individuals had businesses or were willing to start businesses in various sectors. Thus the women groups required support and were provided with business knowledge and skills to enable them move forward.
Thus CEEWA-Uganda’s project on scaling up Women’s Entrepreneurship Development and Leadership Skills focused on capacity building to enhance skills and knowledge. The project was implemented in two Districts of Buikwe and Mayuge in Uganda targeting six women farmer groups. In Buikwe, CEEWA-Uganda worked with Bugoya Women’s Group, Gwosussa Women’s Group and Tusuubira Development Group. In Mayuge, we have been working with Tweyimbe Group (Mayuge Women and Youth Goat Project) Mayuge Women Integrated Development Association (MAWIDA), and Ibanga Bakusekamajja Group. The total number of group members was over 150 people, mostly women.
- Provision of agricultural inputs to women farmers: The overall objective was to provide agricultural inputs to the respective women farmer groups and ensure that they all benefit from the project initiatives. The specific objectives were to contribute to the expansion of women agricultural enterprises as a means for increasing their entrepreneurial potential; to enable women farmer groups have access to agricultural inputs; and to increase women’s participation in income generating activities through utilizing the agricultural inputs. The women farmer groups received animals and chicken.
For instance, MAWIDA received 84 chicks, Ibanga bakuseka majja received 84 chicks, Gwossusa women group got 84 chicks, Mayuge women and youth goat project received 2 goats, Tusuubira development group got 2 pigs and Bugoya women group received a pig but had management challenges and they sold it and bought a cow for the group with support from CEEWA-Uganda.
- Training of women farmers in livestock and poultry rearing:
The overall objective was to increase productivity, ensure food security and product quality for women famer groups and their communities.
The specific objectives were to enable women farmer groups to make responsible managerial and financial decisions to ensure that livestock and poultry farm business is a profitable one; to contribute to the expansion of women agricultural/animal enterprises as a means of increasing their entrepreneurial potential; to increase women’s knowledge on good management practices for livestock and poultry keeping to boost their incomes/profits; to expose the women farmers to good practices in animal husbandry; to enhance food security and contribute to the development of the livestock sector in Uganda.
- Training women farmer groups in entrepreneurship development skills: The overall objective was to enhance entrepreneurship/business development skills among women farmer groups in the targeted Districts. The specific objectives were to equip beneficiaries with knowledge and skills to successfully run a business venture; to increase on the knowledge and understanding of entrepreneurship and business management among women farmer groups; to enable individual women start their own businesses; to build the capacity of women farmer groups to improve on the performance of their businesses; and to contribute to the expansion of women farming enterprises as a means for increasing their entrepreneurial potential.
- Sensitization workshop on women’s rights to land: The overall objective was to increase access to and control over resources like land by the marginalized groups especially women. The specific objectives were to sensitize women on their land rights; advocate for women’s access to and control over land through involving all stakeholders; to advocate for collective household decisions on land use and promoting women hiring and purchasing of land; to promote land rights of women and the poor people through networking with stakeholders and authorities; to analyze and discuss the current land ownership situation in the target communities/localities and to identify factors hindering women from owning land; to suggest recommendations to improve women’s access to and control over land as well as promoting their land rights.
- Providing technical assistance/training women farmer groups on best farming methods, value chain and post harvest management: The overall objective was to empower women groups to improve on their farming methods and post harvest handling, storage and processing of agricultural produce.
The specific objectives were to enable women farmers to understand good practices in crop and animal husbandry, and processing of their products (post harvest management) to assist women farmer groups learn and appreciate the importance of adding value to their products; to explore the different ways of adding value to what women produce; to contribute to food security through promoting good post harvest management practices; and to assist women to obtain information on marketing and market access.
- Monitoring and support supervision visits to the beneficiaries: The overall objective was to assess progress of agribusiness activities done by the women farmer groups. The specific objectives were to identify what individuals or groups have been doing; what has changed after CEEWA-Uganda’s intervention; to find out challenges being faced by women farmer groups while promoting agro-enterprise Development; to interact with the women farmers to enable them identify problems affecting their agriculture activities as well as opportunities to improve their performance; to suggest solutions to the challenges faced by the women farmers; make recommendations and to record any success stories.
- Documentation of success stories (soft and hard copies): The main purpose was to capture any success stories from the beneficiaries to help us identify what worked well and what might not have worked well and why. This information would be useful for deciding to scale up the interventions and for future planning.
All groups indicated they had benefited a lot from the trainings they had received which covered leadership, group governance, record keeping, business planning, saving and credit mechanisms, entrepreneurship development, livestock and poultry keeping, and value chain management. The interventions had enhanced individual members’ confidence, saving culture, income generation, standards of living, need to promote value addition and good quality products as highlighted in the following statements:
CEEWA-Uganda has been engaging women farmer groups in entrepreneurship development trainings with emphasis on agriculture development and agribusinesses. This was aimed at empowering women economically, support their economic independence, expand their levels of income and ultimately standards of living especially for rural women. From the testimonies during monitoring visits, the majority of beneficiaries have improved on their business performance while others have started new businesses. The new businesses include catering services, retail shops, produce buying and selling, money lending businesses etc.
After CEEWA-Uganda trainings some beneficiaries started new businesses for example, Sarah from Mayuge started money lending business but continued with her goat rearing project. She gained business skills from CEEWA-Uganda trainings and she gave a testimony on this.
Sarah noted that “since we started working with CEEWA-Uganda I ensured that my children were in school and some have graduated. I started a money lending business and I am building a house for me and my children because of CEEWA’s encouragement and trainings”.
Another beneficiary Robina noted that “after trainings with CEEWA-Uganda, I thought of growing sweet potatoes as a business. After harvesting them, I sold them and with the money I got, I bought pigs which also gave birth. I am planning to buy a cow after selling the piglets. I also grow vegetables and sell them. My children go to school even my husband sometimes borrows money from me. I take care of my personal needs and I no longer wait for him to give me money for clothes, shoes, or visit to the hair salon”.
Agnes stated that “I started a retail shop after I learnt how to use the available opportunities and my business is growing”. Tusuubira group started a catering service after receiving business trainings from CEEWA-Uganda and the business is profitable.
CHALLENGES FACED IN IMPLEMETING THE PROJECT
- A very tight budget. CEEWA-Uganda however committed to efficiently and effectively utilize the available resources.
- Culture affects women farmers as the majorities do not have control over resources like land where every business or production activities take place and this has negative impact on CEEWA-Uganda’s efforts to women’s economic empowerment. To mitigate this, CEEWA-Uganda encouraged women to exploit the opportunities available, including hiring of land and use of available land to carry out their businesses
- Higher expectations from the groups/communities. CEEWA-Uganda was open to the beneficiaries and communicated to them on what the organization would manage to offer or contribute. Beneficiaries groups have also been asked to play their part by contributing where possible.
There were improved standards of living as the majority of beneficiaries’ households meet basic needs due to their involvement in agribusinesses and other off farm businesses. In addition, there was improved food security as all the beneficiaries acknowledged the need to produce enough for home consumption and a surplus for sale. Many had adopted kitchen gardens to improve on household diets.
However, almost all crop farmers cited the challenges of finding affordable inputs, including land, the right type of seed, pesticides, extension services and competitive markets for their products. The weather also affected their yields as they depended entirely on nature.
CEEWA-Uganda has been engaging women farmer groups in entrepreneurship development trainings with emphasis on agriculture development and agribusinesses. This was aimed at empowering women economically, support their economic independence, expand their levels of income and ultimately standards of living especially for rural women. From the testimonies and observation during monitoring visits and documentation of their success stories, the majority of beneficiaries have improved on their business performance while others have started new businesses. The new businesses include catering services, retail shops, produce buying and selling, money lending businesses etc.
CEEWA-Uganda’s intervention had contributed to people’s appreciation of agriculture as a source of wealth. Most of them had previously looked at it as a subsistence activity which had limited their expectations and efforts. One of the beneficiaries noted that “Agriculture is for food, clothing, school fees, medical and other needs. I commend CEEWA-Uganda for the support for we no longer buy food but we grow it on our own. Farming has become a business that leads to development of other businesses, meeting basic needs and I am now planning to start a drug shop using capital I got from my agriculture production”.(Harriet Nguna of MAWIDA Mayuge District).