I wake up every day with energy and look out for more opportunities for women and youth to advance themselves. Business, new ideas, and creativity bring me fulfillment. Early on, I discovered that helping other women entrepreneurs and letting young people know they can achieve their dreams and be their very best is life-changing. Where I come from, low-income women bear almost all responsibility for meeting the basic needs of families. Yet, women have been denied the resources, information, and freedom of action they need to fulfill this responsibility. Young people have great ideas, creativity, and energy, but often lack guidance, support, mentorship and other resources to make the right decisions.
I founded the Community Women’s Enterprise Network, a not-for-profit community-based organization. Our mission is to build the capacity of lower-income women to become entrepreneurs and to overcome economic and social barriers and achieve self-sufficiency. We have proven that women create jobs for themselves and others, access the mainstream economy and increase their economic self-sufficiency when they are given business planning, technical and financing support. Since our inception in January 2012, we have been running innovative projects, working with low-income but high-potential women entrepreneurs.
Our flagship project is Women on the Shelf, and its main aim is to help low-income, high-potential women entrepreneurs gain shelf space in leading local and regional stores. We aim to cultivate and strengthen the capacity of women food entrepreneurs through branding, packaging, marketing, merchandising and promotions. We also engage local leading stores to work with women entrepreneurs to provide shelf and merchandising space. We believe that with this program, products will fetch higher prices and double the income of women producers, expanding their markets locally and globally.
Over the years we have seen low-income women work in entrepreneurial activities that have enabled them to put food on the table for their families, take children to school and afford basic health care. But Women on the Shelf would like to see women do even more than that. When women can design and make products that are needed by consumers, to the required standards, and sell them at higher prices, they will earn higher incomes. This, in turn, will see women rallying for causes in their communities and supporting them, enabling them to take on leadership positions and gain access to the decisionmaking processes in their communities.
This post was contributed by Hadijah Nankanja, founder of the Community Women’s Enterprise Network. To learn more about the Community Women’s Enterprise Network, visit cwen.or.ug or find them on Facebook.