Graduation ceremonies are always exciting, but Shanti Uganda celebrated a very special one this July. The Women’s Income Generating Group (WIGG) completed their business formation training program and GRADUATED to move on to the next phase of their individual business plans!
On July 14 at the Shanti Uganda Birth House, the 15 WIGG women, Shanti staff and interns came together to celebrate their accomplishments by singing, dancing and eating – all three important pieces of Ugandan culture. This group of women has worked tirelessly for the last several months, so it was a wonderful way to thank them and send them onto the next stage of the process. Each woman received a grant to assist with her start-up costs and the women who elected to open textiles businesses were given a sewing machine as well.
The WIGG women have come so far in the last 9 years and there is so much to celebrate. As the founding members of Shanti Uganda, they have transitioned from making handcrafted artwork to sell in international markets, to completing business and vocational skills courses which will assist them in venturing out on their own to create sustainable, long-term businesses in the community.
In order to successfully complete their training, the WIGG members were required to attend a five-day business management course and at least one vocational course of their choosing. Upon completion of the courses, they created individual business plans that covered important items such as direct and indirect cost forecasting, marketing plans and record-keeping strategies.
Success Story: A Textiles Cooperative
Three of the women in the group decided to band together to create a textiles cooperative whereby they share work space and clientele. The chairman of the WIGG group, Jesca, is a member of this cooperative and will help gather orders from members of the local community. They intend to make products like backpacks, purses, school uniforms and gomesis (a traditional garment worn by Ugandan women). The beauty and efficiency of this cooperative lies in the fact that the women chose to learn how to sew items that their neighbors and fellow community members will utilize to ensure long-term sustainability.
While they are ready to move onto the next chapter of this project, the women understand that challenges might arise. In order to continue improving their strategies and working toward success, they will meet monthly to discuss best practices and ways to solve obstacles they are facing. In addition to these collective gatherings, Shanti staff and interns will hold individual check-ins to assess the progress of the businesses individually. Since this ceremony one of the WIGG members, Agnes excitedly stated, “You gave me the money, I sat down and thought about how to make the most of it. I used that money to buy two goats. I will rear them and sell them and use that money to start my business. The goats are pregnant which will provide me with more money.”
This business formation course would not have been possible without the participation and dedication of the WIGG members. They had direct input from the initial pre-planning stages to the day they graduated and they exhibited high levels of dedication and motivation throughout. Shanti Uganda is proud to call these women family and is thrilled to watch, as they become established businesswomen in the Luwero community.
Shanti Uganda would like to thank all of the generous donors who believed in these women and provided support for the training portion of this program. Thank you for your dedication and commitment to the women of central Uganda!