Two years ago Milly Imat, a widow in Akwiridiri village in Kole District in Northern Uganda, received a Small Business Fund grant and expanded her farm beyond its subsistence scale. It was the beginning of a new chapter for her and the community.
This village is still rebuilding and healing after twenty years of insurgency, violence, and disruption by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The war displaced people and split families. It left trauma and high levels of HIV/AIDS in the population. Naomi Ayot, Spirit in Action Small Business Fund coordinator for this village, recognized that underneath this history of hurt and disruption, there is a strong drive towards healing and rebuilding the community. Since 2016, the SIA Small Business Fund has been part of this rebuilding by supporting 16 entrepreneurial families.
In the two years since Milly started her business, she’s been able to rebuild her home, send her daughter to school, and also adopt another child. Now, to further pay-it-forward, Milly cares for a young mother.
Below are photos of Milly and other successful entrepreneurs in Akwiridiri village.
Milly is Sharing the Gift by taking care of a young mother and her child.
Cila James is a bike mechanic in the village. Bikes are the most common mode of transportation, after walking. He also sells spare parts. Since starting his small business, the family has expanded their enterprises to include chicken rearing and investing in goats as a form of savings.
Part of the business development in the area is reframing farming from a subsistance model, to the concept of agriculture as a business. Samsa Ogwang’s business is to grow maize for export from the community, rather than just to feed her own family.
After Samsa’s first season of harvest last year, she purchased goats. Goats can provide milk and also serve as a form of investment in her family’s future prosperity.
Okello Joshua used his SBF grant to start a small retail shop. He has diversified into chicken rearing.
Understanding the Legacy of Violence
For more context on the history and legacy of the LRA in Uganda, I recommend this fascinating podcast series, Life of the Law: Uganda.
“Life of the Law begins our 4-part series on Uganda. Reported by Gladys Oroma from Gulu, Uganda where she reports for local, national and international press, Gladys follows the stories of Beatrice and Samuel, two of the children abducted by the LRA. Throughout our series, Beatrice and Samuel share their experiences, from the nights of their abductions, through their years in captivity, their harrowing escapes and finally, their return home and their lives in Uganda, today.”