A few years ago, IYHA started working with community groups to provide training to help members of the communities start new enterprises. We provided classroom training, exposure visits and some raw materials: piglets, chickens, mango and coffee seedlings. Trained staff members monitor individual and group progress. Our objective was to provide economic development ideas to these communities—a tide that would lift all boats.
- So, how are we doing? Answers from cooperative members and group leaders offer insight (lightly edited for clarity):
- I have bought land from saving with the cooperative. I learned modern methods of agriculture like pruning and applying manure. – Kayinga Mike(
- Being in a cooperative has made me able to get loans and business knowledge. -Kahoohi James
- I received training in piggery farming, crop husbandry. Excellent group dynamics. Nadvahika Patrick (a social worker!)
- I have learned the best way to take care of my pigs from exposure visits. It has increased my financial earnings. -Kasamba Samuel
- Being in a cooperative has increased my ability to work on a team and make friends. It has helped me explore new methods of farming and increased my desire for work. – (Kayemba Jamiiru
- I have increased my family income and personal development. -Namasembe Immaculate
- The cooperative has helped me to be known in the community. I learned how to grow vegetables which has helped my family have a more balanced diet. – Nabakaawa Jane
- I learned that IYHA loves and cares. I learned development ideas. -Bukenya Isa
IYHA works with seven cooperatives, ranging from 12 to 33 members, some of which were established prior to IYHA involvement. One cooperative is entirely composed of women, but most have a combination of both men and women. Most meet monthly and require a financial contribution from members. Some groups pool their money to provide loans to members for their businesses; others have started piggeries. One noted that they’ve begun a plastic chair project (honestly, I’m not sure what that is but it sounds intriguing).
They would like more training in irrigation and information on how to deal with droughts, as well as crop and animal husbandry. The exposure visits have offered both practical techniques and inspiration.
The groups have plans for other, larger-scale projects: buying dairy cows and growing maize for them to eat. As a group, they want to bring a fuel pump into their area, buy a milling machine and create a saving cooperative. The Twezimbe Kiteredde Group has set a goal of getting their members out of poverty and becoming the model village in the entire district. Wow!!!! It has been awesome helping people believe in themselves, aspire for something better and watching them set goals. Our community members are on their way.