In the heart of Serere, Uganda, Jesca Alwalo, a 47-year-old single mother of six, faces the challenge of caring for her family, including her disabled mother. Her journey reflects the transformative power of Emyooga, a presidential Initiative on Wealth and Job creation aimed at shifting 68 percent of households from subsistence to market-oriented production.
Alwalo’s eldest daughter married at just 19, and her second daughter, now 22, completed her Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE). The family struggled to afford her education, nearly leading to her early marriage in 2020.
As a tailor, Alwalo earned an average of 5,000 Ugandan Shillings per day, insufficient to cover her family’s needs, leading to recurrent food shortages. However, in 2021, she joined the Kasilo County Tailors Association and became one of the first beneficiaries of Emyooga.
Alwalo received a substantial boost of 1.2 million Shillings to enhance her tailoring business. Today, she manages a boutique in Toror Trading Centre, Bugondo Sub County. Alwalo’s success extends to her family as she employs one of her daughters in the business and saves a minimum of 20,000 Shillings daily.
Paul Ebwongu, another tailor in Bugondo, shares a similar story of progress. With Emyooga’s support, he was able to enroll his son in a boarding school, offering a better education opportunity. This initiative has allowed him to embark on the construction of his residential house, a dream previously beyond reach.
These stories exemplify the impact of Emyooga in Serere district. Participants have witnessed remarkable improvements in their livelihoods, thanks to the initiative.
Robert Onguriatum, Chairperson of Kasilo County Fishermen SACCO, reports impressive results. Their loan portfolio stands at 103.8 million Shillings, with an 85.9 percent recovery rate by September 2023. The Emyooga funding of 30 million Shillings in 2021 allowed the group to save 12 million Shillings. Their total savings have reached 48.9 million Shillings, benefiting 171 out of 325 SACCO members.
Moreover, 14 groups purchased shares at 100,000 Shillings each, leading to positive changes in households that used to experience violence.
Serere’s Acting Commercial Officer, James Ebwaku, highlights the district’s impressive recovery rate of 65 percent out of the 1.6 billion Shillings disbursed under the Emyooga program. Although certain projects, particularly in crop production, faced challenges due to drought, the district managed to achieve commendable recoveries.
Minister of State for Microfinance, Haruna Kasolo Kyeyune, acknowledges Serere’s outstanding performance in managing both Emyooga and the Parish Development Model (PDM) programs in the Teso subregion. He suggests increasing Emyooga SACCO funding by twenty million Shillings, recognizing the progress made.