Saving for a Better Future
The first thing you notice about William is his optimism. As he shared his story and the hardships he has endured over the last few years, one couldn’t help but admire his resilience and determination to work towards a better future.
A resident of Yorodani B village in Kagadi district in Western Uganda, William used to run his own successful tailoring business. In a matter of months, not only did he lose all his savings in medical treatments for his (late) wife, but he lost her, too. Shortly after, when his sewing machine broke down, and he could not afford to repair it, he lost his sole source of income. With a small piece of land and limited access to agricultural inputs and knowledge, he struggled with meeting even his family’s most basic needs.
Today, William is resettled with Priscilla, his wife, and two young children. When Raising The Village partnered with their community this year, William and Priscilla learned to utilize their small garden for a sustainable and nutritious food source for the family.
“We now farm our garden and supplement income with casual work for others. The program taught us that even if you don’t have big land, you can create a compound garden and have access to food. They also trained us on the importance of vegetables for our nutrition.” William shared.
For ten years, Raising The Village (RTV) has partnered with last mile communities through a holistic program to support them as they move out of ultra-poverty toward economic self-sufficiency. This year, with support from the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada (GAC), RTV rolled out the program in William’s village as well under the project name “From Last Mile Into Possibilities (FLIP)”. Prioritizing women and youth-headed households, FLIP ensures that communities have access to water, health, and food security so that they can participate in training, diverse income-generating activities, and financial inclusion initiatives introduced as part of the program.
With agriculture remaining an important driver of food security and income for our partner communities, ensuring access to quality seeds, tools and resources for communities to consistently improve their harvests, is critical for sustainable economic growth.
“In RTV’s training, we learned about Good Agronomic Practices, like the use of organic manure and pesticides. With the garden tools we received through the program, farming is more efficient now,” says William, who’s waiting eagerly for his first harvest after partnering with RTV.
To increase and diversify his income, the young entrepreneur’s mind is still set on reviving his tailoring business — a profession he loves and has mastered. The family is actively participating and saving in the Village Saving and Loans Associations (VSLA) established in their village as part of the program.
To maximize partner communities’ benefit from their income, RTV encourages and facilitates the establishment of VSLAs. Since access to financial institutions and services is a challenge for most last-mile communities, VSLAs provide them with financial services like saving and access to loans to launch businesses and lead community-based development initiatives.
“We meet every week to save together, and each member saves UGX 2,500 ($0.6). My wife and I are both members so we save UGX 5000 ($1.2) every week. RTV gave our group boxes to save money in.” William shares excitedly: “My plan is to save with the group and borrow enough money to fix my machine. Then I’ll go back to tailoring clothes for my village,” he said, showing us the saving box.
After experiencing many setbacks, William and Priscilla have already made great progress in just three months — since the launch of their village’s partnership with RTV. The family is excited to continue making further progress over the remaining course of the 24-month program.