Partnering to Uplift Women through Economic Empowerment
Women in many parts of the world face incredible challenges when it comes to accessing opportunities for economic equity. Lack of education, limited access to finance and cultural barriers often prohibit their potential for growth and development. That is why Street Business School (SBS) partners with organizations like With Women Kisoboka to change this reality by providing entrepreneurial training that equips women with the skills they need to succeed.
With Women Kisoboka (WWK) is a nonprofit organization based in Uganda focused on providing women at the lowest income levels with the resources to build agency, meaning and connection in their lives so that they can positively transform themselves, their families and their communities.
WWK uses all the modules of the SBS curriculum, emphasizing savings and diligent bookkeeping as the most crucial lessons in the entrepreneurial program to successfully starting and running a business.
The bookkeeping lessons were especially important for Lucy, pictured above. She owned a hair salon and was already an entreprenuer when she began the SBS training through WWK, but she struggled to make a profit.
“I did not have a clear understanding of my business’s finances, which limited my ability to grow,” said Lucy.
Through the SBS training, Lucy developed as a business owner. She learned to track her income, expenses and savings so she could make smarter decisions for her business. Now, she regularly makes enough profit to pay expenses and even reinvest into her business. She is also able to pay her children’s school fees regularly and is working towards her dream of buying a plot of land and building a house.
To further support women’s commitment to saving a portion of their profits, WWK supplemented the SBS curriculum by recruiting volunteer field coordinators based throughout the community. These coordinators provide coaching and encouragement, and also attend savings group meetings to offer support and guidance.
Agnes, shown above in her store, could not picture herself as a business woman. She was a subsistence farmer and very much enjoyed farming, but she had very little land and so struggled to survive and provide for her family. During the SBS entrepreneurship training, the SBS program’s coaches encouraged her to start small with whatever she had and make it a point to have savings at the end of the day.
“Initially, I thought the program was not for me. I was comfortable with whatever came my way,” Agnes admitted. “After the training, I started keeping chickens, and the record-keeping skills I obtained from the entrepreneurship training helped me to identify areas for improvement in my business,” Agnes added.
She used accumulated savings to diversify her business by making and selling snacks, which has been a profitable venture for her. Agnes’s dream is to buy a bigger space so she can become the best farmer in her village.
Perhaps most importantly, the SBS entrepreneurial curriculum encourages women to think differently about themselves and what they can achieve. Many have been made to feel incapable and undeserving throughout their lives. They may have difficulty imagining themselves as female entreprenuers or people of prominence in their communities. The SBS curriculum is designed specifically to help women build confidence and believe in their ability to succeed.
“Before joining the program, I was comfortable in my poverty. I just did not see a way out,” Dorothy, an SBS graduate, shared.
Yet as she attended the SBS training, she began to think differently. Today, Dorothy, pictured left, runs a small but successful vegetable stall. She has friends from the program who support her and give her ideas to help her achieve her dreams.
Through partnership, SBS and WWK are making a significant impact on women’s lives. To date, WWK has trained four cohorts of increasing size with the SBS curriculum, totaling 275 women. The graduates’ testimonies demonstrate that with the right skills and support, women can overcome the economic barriers they face and achieve their dreams.