International Women’s Day: Reflections on the Importance of Investing in Women

International Women’s Day: Reflections on the Importance of Investing in Women

Happy International Women’s Day from Street Business School!

Today, two very special women, Catherine Nakayiza and Evelyn Mwondha, share what their work and life experience has taught them about the importance, power and potential of women. These amazing women are our Co-Directors in Uganda and have been instrumental in creating the heart-felt, impact-driven culture that is at the core of all that we do.

Co-Country Director, Catherine Nakayiza

Why I have chosen to invest in women throughout my career. For almost a decade I have worked with Beadforlife and Street Business School (SBS) to coordinate our human resources (the most cultured, self-motivated, productive, and fun-loving team I have ever met) as well as ensure that we have the right operational systems in place to achieve our mission of empowering women as self-sustaining entrepreneurs to lift themselves and their families out of poverty. It has been fulfilling to devote myself to this cause and to witness the impact on beneficiaries – confident and successful businesswomen with joys and smiles who look to the future with hope.

Women are mothers of the nation, nurturers of tomorrow’s generation and trusted anchors of family in times of adversity. When empowered and given equal opportunity, women have proven abilities to contribute economically, be models of integrity leadership and champions of social transformation. Nonetheless, 383 million women and girls are estimated to live on less than $1.90 a day. We also know that extreme poverty is an underlying cause for several other livelihood issues which cannot be fully addressed without first addressing the disparity in women’s incomes.

What I have learned from women we’ve invested in.
I have learned about resilience, the ability to stay on course even amidst a challenge, and to pick up even after disaster. While these women’s businesses suffered setbacks during the COVID lockdown, they were able to remobilize and start again.

• I have learned creativity. Women often have no capital to start a business, but they think out of the box, use talents and idle resources, and come up with remarkable business ideas.

• I have learned to appreciate women and relate to them as “coaches.”  They have mastery of their businesses and are very resourceful. We learn from them, what works and what doesn’t, and use the information to guide other women in the program.

Why the world should invest in women. The world must invest in women because it is the right course of action to take to eradicate poverty and speed economic development. They have potential to think creatively and to start, manage and grow successful enterprises. Investment in women has a spillover effect on the family, the community and generation to come. Income in hands of a woman will directly improve family livelihoods, children’s health and education.

How I have seen women progress when someone has invested in them. When we’ve invested in women at SBS, it is life changing. Women’s perceptions of their potential are completely changed, they rise up to engage meaningfully and contribute to the economy. They own multiple businesses, save and employ others. Their homes are stable, they express themselves with confidence, they own assets, educate their children and are more certain about the future. It is like a fire that keeps burning.

Co-Country Director, Evelyn Mwondha

Does it make any difference when someone believes in you?
When I think of a woman, my mind runs quickly to my mother – beautiful, loving and hardworking. Women are uniquely placed to play a central role in the world. They birth, nurture, mend and discipline, to mention but a few hats. In the process, they rub shoulders with family and community members, both young and old. It follows that if you want to change the world, start with the woman because she has immeasurable influence.

My last 10 years at SBS have offered me a learning space and transformed me from a corporate banker to an adherent social worker pushing for women’s economic empowerment. At SBS, we believe in the women we serve, in the innate power of each individual, so deeply that we refer to them as “coaches.”

I have witnessed SBS coaches putting their past behind them, breaking free of cultural hinderances and working hard with a spirit of resilience. I have seen thousands of women walk this journey of transformation. Coach Sylvia is one such a woman who joined SBS training as a struggling single mother of four children, surviving on precarious alms. The SBS training opened her eyes to see business opportunities in her neighborhood and she started a maize business with $1.30. Today, Coach Sylvia owns three businesses and employs other people. Her eldest son is in high school and she owns a beautiful home.

What is amazing is that these wonderful women invest their money back into their families’ health, shelter and education, thus breaking the cycle of poverty. Investing in women yields high returns on investment.

SBS has given me the joy of participating in this transformation, to see cycles of poverty break for families, one-by-one. Given another chance to restart my career, I would once again identify economically vulnerable women and empower them to earn their own money. Only this time, I would be fortunate enough to tap into experiences and lessons learned from Street Business School. Kudos to all who believe and invest in women!

Join us, today, in celebration of all the women entrepreneurs who are lifting themselves, and their families out of poverty.  https://www.streetbusinessschool.org/give/

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