The story of Catherine Nalumansi Ssekabira is one that depicts some of the struggles women go through. It is a story of a woman who previously, solely, depended on manual labour but now whose life has tremendously improved thanks to financial support from UMF. Ssekabira is the secretary of Kawempe Kwagala Development Group. She is married with three children.
As a housewife, Ssekabira solely depended on the small amount of money her husband left at home every morning which could barely sustain the family. To supplement this meagre income, she worked as a water vendor in Kawempe, carrying jerry cans of water on her head, walking to people’s’ houses selling the water. She would make a profit of Shs200 from every jerry can but the well was far, half a kilometre away from her home. “You can imagine a woman carrying jerry cans of water on her head around the village,” she says with frown on her face. By the end of the day, I would go home worn out, my legs paining, tired yet I had to do house chores including cooking for my children and husband.”
The process was difficult but Ssekabira spotted a business opportunity. She says, “We did not have good water supply in our area. Water was scarce especially during the dry season. I figured there was a huge need there, and that if I could connect tap water in my compound and sell, that would not only relieve me the burden of carrying jerry cans of water from contaminated sources, on the head but would give me much more profit. I did not have capital though to start a business that I knew would be profitable.”
Ssekabira and her friends, majority of who are women mobilized themselves into a group, the Kawempe Kwagala Development Group. “We were tired of poverty. We were tired of living miserable lives so the aim of us coming together was to see how to improve our lives,” recounts Ssekabira. They were to hear of a bank that gives loans to groups of people to boast their businesses. They applied for a loan.
“Life became much better. I do not only make more money in profits but my health has improved because I stopped hawking water around the village.”- Ssekabira
Ssekabira got a loan of Shs400, 000 or $160 for six months. She would pay Shs21, 700 or $8.68 weekly in loan repayment instalments. She contacted a Water Company that installed a water tap next to her house. She made a down payment of Shs300, 000 or $120 and opened up a small retail shop with the Shs100, 000 or $40 balance. With a smile on her face, Ssekabira says, “Life became much better. I do not only make more money in profits but my health has improved because I stopped hawking water around the village.” Ssekabira says of the loan, “I was able to repay the loan because the weekly instalments are really manageable. I applied for a second loan worth Shs500, 000 ($200).” With the second loan she was able to fully pay for the water tap. In total, it cost Ssekabira Shs350, 000 or $ 140 to have a water tap in her compound.
With a sense of satisfaction, Ssekabira proudly says, “On average I make Shs30, 000 ($12) a day. I take off payment to the Water Company, pay myself and also remain with enough capital to run my business. I am a happy woman now. I do not depend on my husband’s income. I pay school fees for my children and I can afford to buy myself whatever I want to eat and any cloth I admire.”