Have you ever wondered what it looks like to have a small business in a developing nation? Please allow me to introduce you to Becka Babwairani, a 45 year old mother of 5 girls in Uganda. Her husband left her 3 years ago because she was unable to produce a boy for him. Left to her own devices to support a growing and needy family, she worked as a digger on a nearby farm. After attending BeadforLife’s Street Business School training in Bulogo with the Bulogo Women’s Group, Becka learned she had the potential to be one savvy entrepreneur! Pictured above with her sweet snacking bananas, eggs from chickens she rears, as well as cooking oil she sells for as little as a tablespoons at a time (100-200 UGS about .05$). Becka started her business selling cooking oil, a Ugandan staple, bit by bit. Gradually, she reinvested profits to grow and expand her businesses that also include a small retail shop in the front room of her home, where she sells g-nuts (local nut similar to a peanut, used to make a delicious sauce poured over cooked beans) biscuits, laundry soap, sugar, and other small commodities. While we were talking, a young boy stopped to buy some bananas and she instructed one of her beautiful daughters to “be sure to put that money in the banana business compartment”. Becka keeps track of her businesses separately, a result of the bookkeeping training session. She understands the fundamental business principles of ROI, and is now empowered to monitor the individual successes of her small businesses. Seated on a simple hand hewn wooden bench with 3 of her girls, Left to right: Lovinsa 18, Sylvia 15, Gloria 7, and her grandson Jeffrey on her lap, she shared with us ripple effect her training is having on her community, in particular her faith community. According to Becka, she has started a “hunger” for education and business training in her church community, and feels fortunate to be a testimony of change and access to training and opportunity.
“Faith plays a very important role in business,” shared Becka, ” you do not cheat your business, you must be honest and fair about pricing, and you will reap the benefits.”
It didn’t stop there, Becka later on shared in her story that her goal is to move to the larger town of Nmendwa in order to further expand her businesses. As the leader in her home, and a leader in her church, Becka seeks to provide the best for her families, modeling a hard work ethic for her 4 girls whom she hopes to keep in school and continue to provide for their school fees- a right reserved for those with income capacity.
I am drawing near the end of Maya Angelou’s autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings“, and have been contemplating the power of education. Through her incredibly descriptive account of her life’s hardships, I have been afforded a glimpse into the history of racial discrimination, been exposed to a wealth of rich vocabulary, and have pondered the transformational impacts of educating women. Each causing me to reflect, research, and mull them over in my relentlessly analytical mind. Maya, like Becka, displayed a level of determination in life that is driven from within, from a place of deep-rooted injustices caused to her, and makes the choice to overcome.
” Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently”- Maya Angelou
Never underestimate your own or another’s potential.
For more information on how you can help deliver the promise of opportunity to a woman living in extreme poverty in Uganda, please click the link below!
Tomorrow the “Ignite One Million” campaign will go public!