In 2019 the Canning Trust awarded WOMA our first external grant to set up a pilot project to train women from some of the rural areas in Uganda. With the help of our partners in Uganda we selected women from the Busoga Region in Eastern Uganda near Jinja. The women started their training at the Namasuba College of Commerce in Kampala in January 2020. Nora and Karen visited them during their third week of training. All the women were enjoying the course and learning quickly. They were already full of ideas of what they planned to do when they were fully trained. Some wanted to specialise in soft furnishings, others in handicrafts and shoes, while others intended to pitch for contracts for school uniforms. All the women were keen to impart their skills to their families and other women in their communities.
Nora and Karen with the 2019 trainees intake.
Unfortunately, in March 2020 the college closed and all training was suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the women had to return to their villages.
We kept in touch with the women during the lockdown and in October 2020 the college reopened and the women were able to resume their course.
Life was tough in the rural villages during lockdown. Some women started to use the skills they’d learned to make face masks to sell when they were able to get hold of material.
WOMA arranged transport to get the women back to Kampala and provided them with a supply of face masks and hand sanitiser. They will complete their training in March 2021.
Since WOMA was established in 2005 we have trained over 100 women.
Our aim is to provide our trainees with skills that they can use to support themselves and their families. Over the years we’ve tried a number of different courses, but we now focus on tailoring and design because that has proved to be the area where women can most readily find work once they have qualified.
We are currently working mainly in Uganda but in the past we have sponsored women in Kenya as well.
We have established a good working relationship with the Principal and staff at the Namasuba College of Commerce in Kampala.
During their training the women not only learn the practical skills of design and tailoring, but they also learn basic accounting and stock control and other skills they will need if they are going to set up their own business.
We give them a small allowance for lunch and their bus fare to get them to college.
On successful completion of the course we give all graduates the opportunity to buy a sewing machine from us at half the normal retail price.
After their training many women set up their own small business or combine together with other women and form small co-operatives so that they can bid for large contracts for school uniforms or office furnishings.
We hold events from time to time to get past and present students together so they can learn from each other’s experiences.