The BeadforLife team in Iganga, Uganda has been hard at work helping our members prepare to start sustainable, agricultural business projects by the next crop cycle in April. Over the last few months, all of our members took part in entrepreneurial training activities such as visiting model farms and attending agricultural seminars. They will soon start field practicums with experienced farmers to learn successful farming techniques firsthand.
Our team is currently working with 150 female members in 5 sub-counties surrounding Iganga, many of which are located at least 15km (9 miles) from the town center. Transportation costs are high and very difficult for our members to pay. To engage successfully in business, they must travel to attend trainings, to access their farms, and to market their products. Because of this, the Iganga team came up with a creative solution to exchange bangles for bicycles.
Having completed a second bicycle exchange, our staff was inspired by its success. Many of the women who participated already knew how to ride their bicycles and rode them home the same day they received them. Those who know how to ride bicycles plan to work together within their sub-counties to teach those who don’t. More importantly, because the bicycle exchange was coupled with business training, the women are already thinking strategically about long-term, entrepreneurial applications for their bicycles. Many spoke of using them to purchase feed for livestock, to sell eggs from their poultry, to bike to their farms, and to sell other basic commodities.
Exchanging bangles for bicycles gave our members both the knowledge and the tools necessary to start their own agricultural businesses, along with the potential to lift themselves and their families out of extreme poverty.
— Contributed by Alexis Coppola, BeadforLife Uganda Office