What does progress look like in this type of (very) small scale development context?
Where does long lasting improvement come from and how can you recognise it?
We are now coming to the end of Phase Two of our project, ETC@GDPU (Enhancing the Capacity of Persons with Disability) it provides skills training and business support for young people with disabilities in Gulu and surrounding region. Faruk the project officer from Gulu Disabled Persons Union (GDPU) has been out and about assessing the development of each group in Phase Two and of course checking on the progress of the pilot groups.
Financial training/ Marketing training:
- GDPU hired Mr Okumu Moris, a lecturer in entrepreneurship and commerce, to train youth in marketing skills; a gap identified among the enterprises.
- The other support offered by the ETC project for the past 8 months also included: Life skills; Financial literacy and record keeping; Business management skills, Group dynamic training and training in specific vocational skills, eg knitting and joining of sweaters using a sewing machine, or electronics or repairing different types of motorbike.
- Follow ups to the training given and Reflection Meetings were also held.
A look at a couple of the ETC @ GDPU Phase Two Groups might show the effects of this support and training:
Gulu Disabled Persons Knitting Workshop:
Along with the general training, members of GDPKW have attended Skills Training for two months, training in open sweater weaving, joining sweaters, and using the sewing machine. As Faruk, the project officer has said: “their capacity was successfully built and they are all able to do work without any problems.”
- After the marketing training the enterprise was advised to look for contracts, not only from schools which are the usual outlets for sweater weavers, but also from the community in order to increase their sales. The group should also try to display their products so that others will know them.
- There is sign of increase in their income, for example, the enterprise was able to get contracts of 206000 Ugandan shillings (about £45.00) for one month, awarded to the enterprise as a result of increased skills and knowledge of marketing and sourcing of contracts from the community.
- The group has an updated record book which is a very good sign of financial literacy and good practise within the enterprise.
- The enterprise members have managed to work very hard to improve on the performance of their enterprise.
Good signs for the future
Members of GDPKW have started making individual sweaters of different designs, rather than just school uniforms, and are now getting small individual contracts. GDPU have linked the enterprise to friends who wanted sweaters, and they already been awarded the contract to knit two sweaters at a total cost of 60,000 Ugandan Shillings (about £13.00).
Also, they now sew dresses from small pieces of cloth, recycling different pieces of cheap cloth and offcuts to make one beautiful one. These are particularly suitable for children’s clothing and are therefore very saleable.
Both of these outcomes might seem very small steps but in fact they mark significant progress. Previously, members have felt bound by the forms and types that they had been taught and appeared fearful of anything new, of investing their own time, money or resources in risk. School uniform sweater contracts are seasonal, only available in January/ February at the start of the school year as a bulk order, one-off contract with a low rate of financial return. If you miss the order, through a broken machine or illness perhaps, then you make nothing for the rest of the year. These new ventures not only show people with enough self-confidence to ‘own’ their own business, but also a means for individual makers of new clothes to make a serious future income that is sustainable throughout the year; there is considerable potential for developing ‘upcycling’ and new designs in the local markets.
Other routes to boosting confidence and self esteem:
Sport: Participation in: one of the GDPKW members of the group (Aciro Brenda, a physically disabled girl) participated in the disability Paralympics, winning gold medals in 100m, 200m and Javelin.
A pilot phase hairdressing group based in Acet, a small isolated town some 25 miles out of Gulu on a very poor road.
Description of activities carried out by the group this period.
Targetting your market and Plaiting of hair: the enterprise performed very well recently, especially during the period of Uganda independence and market days. The enterprise had a lot of customers, all members were engaged and able to earn good money.
Increase in commercial confidence and business planning after training: the isolation of Acet, which has no retail shop for salon products, makes using the right materials difficult. The enterprise has realised that if they plan properly, they are able to source and buy the salon products requested by their customers, in Gulu and transport them out to Acet by bus; as Faruk says: “This is a good sign for customer relations and ownership of the enterprise. The enterprise has shown a lot of progress compared to other enterprises as they do buy their materials on a weekly basis.”
Again, small steps but important ones for future sustainability, this is what progress in small scale development looks like.
Coming in the next update:
news about the recent ETC of PWD trustee visit to Gulu and news about the next steps for this project.