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Walking with the Entrepreneurs in Jinja Market

By Julie Hindmarsh

Guest blogger and Women’s Opportunity Network (WON) member Julie Hindmarsh sends us this report from WON’s “Mothers, Daughters and Sisters” Insight Trip to Uganda. This post details the travelers’ visit to a Trust Group in Jinja on Thursday.

As the first visitors to the Tusakimn (Unity) Trust Group in Jinja, Uganda, the Opportunity loan recipients were eager to meet us. They crowded under the tarp shielding us from the midday tropical sun in order to speak with the bazungu (white people).

May, the Trust Group chairwoman, presided over the group. This is her second time as an Opportunity client. She was a client in 2003 but left in order to get a school fee loan from another microfinance organization. Now that Opportunity Uganda offers school fee loans she has come back. She says that Opportunity respects her. They let the group self-manage when one member defaults, and they are firm but understanding in demanding repayment–they will arrange it based on the individual client’s financial situation.

May is a natural leader. She says, “When I join a group, I just become the leader.” She works as a tailor with a business loan of $350 and a school fee loan of $250.

Most of the women in the Unity Trust Group have a school fee loan from Opportunity as well as a business loan. Scovia, an articulate woman who sells secondhand clothes, has a business loan of $375 and a school fee loan of $100. She says the business loan allows her to purchase and sell two bales of clothes a week instead of one. After all, suppliers don’t give credit, they require cash.

Most of the Trust Group’s men said their businesses were so successful that they don’t need school loans. Moses, who is on his seventh loan cycle, has a loan of $500. He is able to buy a truckload of makoote (plaintains) to bring to the village to sell.

When asked where else they could get credit, the response was: “Where would we go but Opportunity?” They said that other organizations were too stringent in their loan repayment methods, increasing economic hardship.

They commended Opportunity Uganda’s business training program too. Scovia commented that she had learned not to borrow more than she could handle for her business. Others mentioned the value of learning budgets, cash flow, characteristics of a good Trust Group member and good leadership qualities. They wanted to continue to learn and grow with Opportunity for a long time!

Julie Hindmarsh is a WON member who lives in Baltimore, Md. She works as a clinical instructor at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, specializing in public health and global health care. Previously, she was director of the Women’s Cancer Prevention Program and health planner for the Office of Family Resources in the Baltimore County government. Julie currently serves on the Board of Directors for Opportunity as well as for the organization’s microinsurance subsidiary MicroEnsure.

This is the seventh in a series of blog posts from the “Mothers, Daughters and Sisters” Insight Trip to Uganda. Revisit our past blogs for news and inspiring stories about the women and families of Uganda. To get involved and support the women of WON, and Opportunity’s work in Uganda, visit our Virtual “Walk” for Uganda.

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