Women Who Fight Poverty
On a sunny afternoon in Rukiri A village in Kagadi District, a group of women are seated under a jackfruit tree, a common scene for many last-mile rural gatherings and meetings. This group of women make up the Bakyala Tubinge Obunaku Savings Group, which roughly translates to “Women Who Fight Poverty.” This group was formed in November 2020 as part of Raising The Village’s (RTV) program that focuses on building financial empowerment and healthy households by providing women financial literacy training and local access to financial services through Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA).
The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the most vulnerable in the world. With several lockdowns and the devastating socio-economic impacts of the pandemic, last mile villages in rural Uganda – like Rukiri A – are at a great risk of losing their income, savings and productive assets in the face of such a major development shock. Financial literacy and leadership are important life skills to have, especially in times of such incredible hardship.
“In our community, many people are used to saving money and just spending all of it at once due to circumstances. Others would spend it all for socializing and celebrating public holidays,” – Margaret, chairperson of Bakyala Tubinge Obunaku Saving Group expressed.
After attending a series of financial literacy trainings facilitated by Raising the Village, these women came together to establish the Bakyala Tubinge Obunaku Village Loans and Savings Group. The group’s first initiative was to acquire masks to protect themselves from COVID-19 and follow the health and safety guidelines to be able to continue their work safely during these times.
“The government advised us to wear masks. We had to buy ourselves masks as a group in order to continue with our group meetings and gatherings safely” – expressed, Irene, secretary of Bakyala Tubinge Obunaku Saving Group.
The group also decided to invest in plastic chairs for each member for their meetings, as they had previously conducted their meetings by gathering on mats on the ground. Besides the need for some comfort, they agreed that cleaning and sanitizing plastic chairs would offer them an extra layer of protection.
“We agreed as a group to buy some chairs for our savings group meetings. Group members were tired of sitting on the ground on mats. We bought 25 for our members and 3 for any guests participating in our meeting” – Margaret, chairperson of Bakyala Tubinge Obunaku Saving Group.
Self-managed village saving groups like Bakyala Tubinge Obunaku do not receive any external capital and are instrumental for community members to save, access peer-reviewed loans, set and achieve goals, and invest for individual, group or community benefit. These structures also offer opportunities for women and youth to take leadership within their communities.
The Bakyala Tubinge Obunaku group meets twice a month to discuss issues such as the state of water and hygiene in their village, as well as methods to acquire more assets to build a sustainable financial system within their community. The group is now busy planning to buy 25 goats, one for each member of their savings group by August 2021 from their savings and continue to work towards achieving their financial goals for a better future.