Lucia - Single Mother
Lucia has a table set up in one of the markets in Masese. With the loan she received from Microfinance, she was able to add to her wares for sale. She added silver fish, which (as you would expect), are a very small silver fish about 1.5 inches long. They are an excellent source of protein and are recommended for women who are pregnant and for small children. She sells both already cooked silver fish, and those that still need to be cooked. Additionally, she was able to purchase matoki (green bananas). Matoki is a favorite dish of the Ugandans. They wrap the green bananas in banana leaves and then cook them in a charcoal fire. After they are done, the banana fruit has the consistency of mashed potatoes. They are not a sweet tasting banana like what we are used to in the US, but have more of a potato taste that the people love.
Through the additional of the matoki and the charcoal (both bigger ticket items), she was able to increase her profits enough to improve her housing situation and to pay school fees so all her children can go to school.
Ruth - Single Mother
Ruth has a fruit stand that faces the street. She is about two rows of vendors from Lucia. Ruth has been in business for about 12 years selling her fruits and vegetables. Through a loan from microfinance, she was able to expand her business into selling large bags of charcoal that are used for cooking. A full bag of charcoal is about six feet in height and over two feet in diameter. When Ruth received her first microfinance loan of 50,000 UGX - Ugandan shillings ($20 USD), she was able to buy a half a bag of charcoal. She quickly resold it for 50,000 UGS for a profit of about $2 USD.
Once she paid back the first loan, she received another loan for 100,000 UGS ($40 USD). From this, she was able to buy a whole bag of charcoal for 90,000 UGS, which she cut in two, and sold each of them for 50,000 UGS, (a profit of $4 USD). From there, she received a loan of 200,000 UGS and continued from there. With the additional money she is making from the sale of the charcoal, she was able to move out of the slum and send all of her children to school.
While a profit of $2/day or $4/day may not seem like a lot, $4/day equates to approximately 400,000 UGX per month, which pays the rent on an apartment that allowed her to move her family out of the slum.
Margaret - Single Mother
Margaret sells cassava (a root plant) prepared in a variety of fashions. She also sells charcoal for women to cook on. Margaret gets up early in the morning (between 6am and 7am) to prepare pancakes that she sells. The pancakes are made from milled cassava. She sells everything from her yard, which is on a corner of two streets. By the time we arrived (about 10am), she was sold out of pancakes. She also makes samosa’s which are triangular pieces of dough made from the cassava flour that is filled with peas and fried in hot oil.