SALVE help people in Uganda start their own businesses

How our Single Mother’s Business Programme helped Regina

Regina was a happily married mother of three. As a family, they had a small temporary house in their home village where they stayed during holidays and family gatherings. Then they also rented a small home on the edge of Jinja town, where it was easier to find work. Regina’s husband worked as a Boda driver (motorcycle taxi). They were a happy family and he was able to provide for all their needs while she was a housewife.

That was until one awful day. Regina’s husband has left for work as normal, but then they received the terrible news that he had been beaten to death by a gang of thugs who stole his motorbike. This was a huge and heartbreaking blow. Regina was not working and had no idea how she would take care of her young family by herself. They were still renting their house in Jinja, but she thought she could at least go and live in the house they had built in the village to save on rent. Unfortunately after the funeral, her husband’s family made it clear that Regina and her children were not welcome there (the family wanted the house for themselves).  With no option, and feeling completely helpless and alone, the family travelled back to Jinja.

As soon as she arrived back in town Regina started walking around asking for people who would want someone to help them wash their clothes or have any kind of work they in return for money or food so that she could take care of her children. One day a friend told her about factory work where she could earn 3,000UGX (about 75p) per day. The only challenge was you had to do two weeks work before being paid. Regina nevertheless took up the work and continued trying to do additional house work for money before and after her long shifts in the factory so that the family could still eat until she was paid. Her eldest daughter became the carer for her siblings, despite only being a child herself. Regina now left home before her children woke in the mornings and came home once her children were in bed. Life was so hard.

Turning to the streets

Feeling frustrated and alone, Regina’s eldest daughter began leaving her siblings at home and coming to the streets of Jinja to collect scrap metal to sell. This is how we met her during one of our Street walks carried out by our Street Outreach team. She started attending our Drop in Centre and shared more about her story. Our social workers went with her to meet her mother and explained to her the dangers of the streets. She explained that she had no option but to continue her work at the factory meaning that there was no way of knowing what her children were doing during the day.

A new beginning

Regina’s fate changed when S.A.L.V.E.’s Single Mothers’ programme began and she was invited to join.

After receiving her business training and start up, she began selling snacks and then started selling tea too. With the money she earns from her business, she can pay her rent on time and can feed her children properly. She can also take care of any medication the family needs and is no longer constantly worried about where their next meal will come from. She is even able to make savings of about 5,000 UGX (£1.25) every week for emergencies. Not only that, but now that she runs her own business, she is once again able to properly parent her children and her daughter is once again able to be a child.

Regina enjoys attending the weekly business training sessions and has helped us to mentor others in her group. During these sessions, the mothers share the challenges that they have been facing both with their business and in their personal life and offer each other peer support. This programme has provided support that goes far beyond the financial benefits – it has given these women new friends who understand their situation and who are there to support them no matter what. Many of these women say that they go home from these training sessions feeling ready to face life again.

Regina also helped the group to begin a savings circle scheme where each member contributes a certain amount of money each week, and the members take it in turns to be given this money to use as a further investment for their business. She recently attended the start up training for our next Single Mother’s group and gave a really inspiring motivational speech about how she has turned her life around – and they can too.

This was made possible thanks to the generous donations given to support our Big Give Christmas Campaign in 2019 to start a special business programme for single mothers. Thank you to everyone who has contributed to make this possible.

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