Rose Opio is a typical farmer in Uganda. She works a small plot and rears pigs to support her family in the village of Oyam in the country’s northern region. Most farmers in the area have been subsistence farmers for generations, living off of what they grow and earning only small and inconsistent amounts from other labor.
In many African communities, clean water is a scarce and valuable resource. On the southern coast of Kenya, villagers in the small, rural community of Mwambalazi rely on water collected from wells or murky ponds for all of their household needs.
In rural Kenya, clients of Juhudi Kilimo — a microfinance organization that focuses on farmers — support each other both financially and emotionally. With guidance from a Juhudi Kilimo loan officer, farmers form groups to receive loans, manage repayments, share business ideas and challenges, and get technical training and product demonstrations. Once business is over, they share tea and bread before heading back to work. If one farmer is trying something new, he or she can definitely expect visitors from the group before the next meeting.
Can technology really make a difference in the lives of the poor? Solimo, a pig farmer from rural Uganda, certainly believes so. When Solimo’s pig gave birth to 15 piglets, all but two piglets died just days after their birth. A major part of the family’s livelihood also slipped away, putting Solimo’s family at risk.
Gonzaga Kawuma was away from his farm when his cow collapsed and could not stand up again. Gonzaga’s wife gave him the disheartening news on the smartphone he has received as part of his participating in Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) program in Uganda. Gonzaga relied on his smartphone to diagnose his cow’s illness. Its fall could have been caused by a number of ailments – muscle fatigue, arthritis, foot rot – but Gonzaga figured out that the problems was a shortage of calcium.
A simple mobile phone is helping Simon Obwoya bring new opportunities to a community that has faced the brunt of Uganda’s brutal civil war. Obwoya lives in Lalogi subcounty in northern Uganda, a region that is home to thousands of people who have been displaced by a decades-long insurgency. People have recently started returning to their land and learning how to farm and take care of their families again.
Grameen Foundation's Growth Guarantees program was launched in 2005 to increase microfinance clients’ access to loans by guaranteeing local funding for the microfinance institutions (MFIs) that serve them.
Grameen Foundation has been working in Sub-Saharan Africa for more than a decade, improving livelihoods through addressing some of the biggest challenges facing smallholder farmers and the rural poor, including access to finance, agricultural information, and markets.
February 04, 2013
Originally posted on our AppLab Blog. Fredrick Ndiwalana is Relationship Manager, Applab Money Accelerator, and Ali Ndiwalana is Research Lead, AppLab Money Incubator, at Grameen Foundation Uganda.