“The microloan program has given me hope for a brighter future,” effuses Phionah, a twenty-two-year-old in the Rukundo International Scholar’s program.
When meeting Phionah for the first time, the one thing people notice is her big, genuine smile. But Phiona, who joined the Rukundo International (RI) Scholar’s program in 2015, has had her share of challenges. She lost her father when she was young and nearly dropped out of school because her mother could not afford schooling for all of the six children. With a high school (secondary) education out of reach of the family’s resources, Phionah would have been forced into the impoverished life of a rural wife and farmer, with little hope for a brighter future.
Stepping Into Her Potential
Thanks to a generous partner, RI was able to admit Phionah to the Scholar’s program and to give her the gift of education, allowing her to realize her full potential. Phiona successfully completed the first two classes of secondary school, but like many rural students, she found it hard to compete academically due to the lack of a quality primary education. But all was not lost for this resilient young woman. With encouragement from the RI Scholar’s Coordinator, Phiona enrolled in a tailoring course at Shalom Vocational School in Kabale. Due to her passion for this field, she soon formed a dream of becoming a designer who could change her community.
Supporting Dreams With A Microloan
Phiona excelled in her new course of study and completed the program in mid-2018. Although starting her own business posed yet another challenge, Phionah was determined – and resourceful. She asked an older woman with a successful tailoring shop if she could put her sewing machine (a graduation gift from RI) on her veranda and work on small projects to gain experience. The woman agreed, and Phiona’s dream was underway.
Around the same time, RI launched a Scholar’s microloan program, which was aimed at empowering its Scholars to be self-reliant. Phionah received 500,000 UGX (~$140USD) and embarked on her journey as a young entrepreneur. Despite many setbacks along the way – including theft of her fabrics and encounters with con artists – Phiona persevered.
With the RI’s support, Phiona proved to be innovative and capable. After developing her own skills, she successfully trained an apprentice, earning her 200,000 UGX ($55). She also launched a side business of selling matooke (green bananas), which she purchases wholesale in town and sends back to her home village for sale.
“I’m glad to say that I have been able to buy sand worth 100,000 shillings to renovate my mum’s house. I have supported my siblings’ schooling, as well as taken good care of myself,” says Phionah.
With an eye toward continuing success – and that big smile! – Phionah is planning to buy more fabrics to better serve her customers, as well as another sewing machine just for training apprentices.
“I am very glad to report that I have been able to pay back to Rukundo the loan of 500,000 at an interest of 5%. I actually generated a profit of 550000.”
Looking Toward The Future
Phionah has come so far since 2015, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for this optimistic and hard-working young entrepreneur. We have no doubt that she’ll fulfill her dream of becoming a designer who will change her community!
If you are interested in sponsoring determined students like Phionah and helping them achieve their full potential, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.