TESTIMONIALS, WHAT THEY SAY
Testimonies and stories of change from different individuals that have been impacted by EASSI
Margaret BarasaTrades in maize and old cloths from Kenya to Uganda
“Previously, I faced a lot of challenges, especially using Panya (Illegal) routes. I spent a lot of money in bribes and on a bad day, even my goods could be confiscated forcing me to incur huge loses. But since joining the Busia Women Cross Border Traders Association, we have received several training from EASSI on customs procedures, trade information, business management and self-confidence. Before I was ignorant of the customs procedures, had no confidence and feared approaching customs officials and police. But all that is now history thanks to EASSI and the association.
Before joining the association, I was a petty trader, now I am steadily growing and my volume of trade is increasing year on year. I began with 20 kgs of maize that I took to Kenya, returning with 4-5 second hand clothes. This has since expanded to a full bale. I now cross freely with my goods only to pay what is officially compared to when I paid a lot in bribes. Joining the association was an added advantage. It’s given us a strong voice and through it, we are able to speak with one voice. This in turn has helped us demand our rights making us the envy of other women. Although we still have a problem of double taxation on the Kenyan side, we hope that that will be sorted with time. Long live EASSI.”
Itinot CatherieTrades in silver fish, wheat flour and cooking oil from Uganda to Kenya
“EASSI saved us from exploitation! I used to think small, unaware that I had the potential to grow big. All this changed when I joined the association. The Association gave me the confidence to pursue the dream of growing bigger in business. I started off with a bag of silver fish worth 100,000/= shillings in 2012. At the moment, I trade in tilapia and lung fish and I buy 5 baskets from Kenya which I sell into Uganda. I’d spend up to two days using panya routes (illegal routes) to get my goods into Uganda. Compare that with 1-2 hours using designated routes. I clear my goods paying only those taxes recognized by law unlike before. EASSI, through this association has helped us gain self-confidence and sensitized us on customs procedures. This has saved us from exploitation due to ignorance. We can now challenge customs officials if they try to exploit us. I used to think small because I didn’t think I have the capacity to grow big. But my whole outlook on business changed when I joined the association.
In the Association I learnt that it is possible for me to become a big trader and I believe that this dream will come true given the progress I am making. My initial capital in 2012 was 100,000/= shillings (I bag of silver fish) but now I have expanded into tilapia and lung fish and I buy 5 baskets from Kenya which I sell into Uganda. I used to spend a lot of time in panya routes and it would take me two days to cross my goods into Uganda. But ever since I came out and started using designated routes, I now spend 1-2 hours clearing my goods and only pay taxes recognized by the law unlike before when I used to pay a lot of bribes. EASSI through this association helped us gain self-confidence and sensitized us about customs procedures. This has saved us from exploitation due to ignorance because whenever the customs officials want to exploit us we show them that we are knowledgeable on EAC customs union and Common market and among others. We now have the ability to challenge customs officials whenever they want to exploit us.”
Trade information Desk Officer and also a member of the Busia WCBTA
“The Cross Border Trading Environment has greatly improved. In the past, there was a lot of smuggling of goods in Busia. But the sensitization of women by EASSI and other organizations about customs procedures has demystified all of this. Regular stakeholder meetings attended by customs and security officials provide a platform where women can report cases of harassment. This has proven very beneficial to the women. The One Stop Border Post (OSBP) has speeded the amount of time spent clearing goods at the border as you do it once and on either side of the border unlike before when you had to clear on both sides. Where the women would spend a day clearing goods, they spend 2 -3 hours at the moment. The OSBP is helping women because even when they get to the border late, the goods are cleared and allowed to cross. We however need more sensitization on customs procedures to help us root out corruption which is still rampant. Also women traders outside the association still use panya routes believing them to be more profitable, Thank you EASSI”.
Kyotera Umbrella Circle (Mushrooms, table banking)
Before WOGE took me in, I was a housewife with no source of income and was ignorant about business. Then EASSI encouraged us to join groups and trained us in income generating activities. Once we had acquired the skills, they gave us startup capital. Now I make 76,000/= (25 dollars) a week. I also train other groups for a fee. I earn 266,000/= (71 dollars) per training and I have so far trained 5 groups comprising of 80 women. Even though I don’t have any other business apart from mushrooms, the money I earn is enough to sustain means my family. From earnings I get from mushroom growing and trainings, I have been able to send my six children to school and take care of other family needs as well. The only challenge we have now is the harsh weather and lack of mushroom seeds, we ask EASSI to give us more capital especially seeds.
From Twegeite Women’s Group in Mafubira Sub-county, Jinja
“I lacked self confidence to stand and address gatherings. Since I is one of the girls in the group, I feared to share my ideas with other group members for fear that they would not listen to me. I have learnt so much about group dynamics and how to behave as a group member. I now know that we are all different and we can’t be the same, some people are quiet, others are talkative, others are aggressive others are calm. I have to know how best to deal with all sorts of people and to understand them. The other important thing I have learnt is to have self esteem and appreciate myself more. I have to protect myself from HIV/AIDS, be self reliant and provide for myself without begging for everything. As a woman I have to have developmental ideas. I can see that my future is going to be brighter; WOGE put up a resource centre in our district, this means we will be able to access computers, internet and much more information which I can use to develop myself and my friends. I will encourage my group members to make good use of the resource centre. I am already doing computer studies and this resource center will boost my knowledge and I am looking forward to it. Thank you EASSI, Thank you DSW!!!”
Gerald a former SGBV perpetrator turned into a Male champion
I am Gerald Ssenkumba from Kyotera Sub County in Rakai. I used to beat my wife, fail to provide for the family because I had no idea that the law did not permit such behavior. I thought that under the Kiganda culture a man can do whatever he wants. However, when the Men engage project came, I was educated on women rights and the need to have happy families. EASSI through WOGE gave us a responsibility to teach other men about GBV and its consequences. We have been moving in different villages teaching communities about GBV and the laws applicable. Women are now empowered to claim for their rights, while men have realized that GBV is wrong and punishable. We worked with communities and they were transformed for example one woman from Kamwanyi village in Kyotera with two boys aged 10 and 11, used to send them to the markets and towns to vend tomatoes and onions instead of being in school, however through our education programmes, she stopped and the children are all back in school. Through the sensitization programmes by men, one of the aspects was about child labor. In fact a by-law on child labor was developed in some areas.
Gender Based Violence (GBV) reduced in Rakai District
I am Kayondo Marx, the speaker of Kakuuto Sub County in Rakai district, also the chairperson of the Men- engage project. Before EASSI, WOGE introduced the Men- engage, GBV cases were very rampant in the sub county. We had on average five women daily reporting cases to the police and the gender officer. However, when the Men-engage project was introduced, men were used as male champions to educate other men and communities against the dangers of GBV. Men were taught their roles and functions in the homes, their obligations and the rights of those under their care. Further to this, men were facilitated to use Mobile trucks as education platforms in markets and busy places. We further participated in exchange visits and sports galas organized with an intention of passing our message on GBV. Men also participated in the drafting of by-laws on GBV with the sub county administration. We had targeted to have all the seven parishes have by –laws developed, however the project ended before we could finish. As a result, men changed their attitudes and practices towards women. Child violence and labor were reduced. The number of cases of GBV reduced to almost 1 per day. However, the project was for one year, it ended when we still needed it. Our district wrote to EASSI requesting that a similar project be re-introduced in the future. Otherwise, we are thankful to EASSI and WOGE for opening the eyes of men in Kakuuto Sub-county.
GBV Perpetrator turned anti-GBV Champion
“I am Bwire Andrew, a resident of Bulekya Village, Masinya Sub-county Busia district, Uganda. In Bulekya village, GBV was very rampart, fueled by the men who were drunkards. Children were neglected and abandoned, rape and defilement were common. Personally, I used to drink till midnight and on returning home I would fight with my wife and I didn’t care about my children. My wife left me five years ago, and I suffered together with children. However, when EASSI through WOGE introduced the men engage project, the situation improved. I am one of the 90 Male champions trained by EASSI to fight GBV. This changed my attitude towards women and I had to be a role model as a male champion. I stopped alcohol abuse, I started caring for my children, and I got a new wife and we started planning together. I don’t fight anymore; fellow men that were mistreating their wives have changed because of my example. We counsel many women and men who come with problems related to GBV and give them advice on how settle their disputes. The creation of referral pathways for GBV victims and community bye-laws has greatly eased the fight against the vice. Community members, particularly the women know where to get help and the community by-laws have helped to bring the GBV perpetrators to book and now, there is peace in my home and my community because of EASSI’s efforts”.
I sponsored my husband for further education through my success with WOGE (EASSI)
I am called Yesharege Tesfaye from Debrezeit, Kebele 05, Ethiopia. I am a member of the “Hujina Bola” WOGE business project” (It means tomorrow is better). Before I joined this group, I had no idea about savings or business. I stayed with my husband and children and had no income. We always had shortage of food and clothing and other basic needs. The children went to the cheapest schools. In 2013, we came together as women and started saving a small amount of ETB 2.25 per week each. The savings were increased and we went to the Women’s office in debrezeit where we were connected to WOGE. Under WOGE – EASSI, we were taught how to save and invest; we were empowered with business planning skills business development, competitive bidding and leadership.
We formed the Dry cleaning services enterprise and started getting tenders with different public institutions. With the help of WOGE skills we won a competitive tender for dry cleaning services for Bishoftu hospital in Debrezeit. We have three laundry machines that we use to execute this contract. I now get a monthly salary of ETB 1100. I am able to provide all my family needs including paying school fees for our children in better schools. I contribute all my social saving commitments, which means a lot for me since I used to earn little money. I have been able to build a house for my family. I have managed to sponsor my husband to complete a bachelor’s degree in Engineering for the last three years. I plan to open up my own laundry shop in the coming months.
I improved my livelihood through the EASSI- WOGE group enterprise
My name is Ayleche Abera from Debrazeit, Kebele 05, Ethiopia. I used to be a house wife, with no source of income for my family. I always felt bad when my family needs were not met by the little money my husband earned- about ETB 1500. We always struggled to get good food, clothing, and education for children and health care services. I was always powerless to help my family until when I joined the Restaurant group business in 2013. In the group, we were taught how to write business plans, analyzing costs, marketing and caring for customers, as well as leadership and communication. This training enabled me to be a good leader and I was elected the leader of the group. The hotel business has grown and we now have an average of 60 clients per day, bringing us revenue of ETB 5500 per day. Today, I have managed to set up a poultry business in addition to the restaurant group business. My income today is ETB 2000, much higher than what my husband earns. I support the family in all the household needs. My children are in good schools, and my husband is a lot happier and more committed to me. I plan to expand my poultry business from 200 to 400 birds. I have sold the 200 birds to acquire a new improved breed that grows in three months. I am indebted to EASSI, WOGE for the support!
Trades in second hand clothes, handcrafts and fresh (tomatoes, onions)
We have greatly benefited from being members of the Busia Women Traders Association, created by EASSI. Knowing more about non-tariff barriers has reduced the challenges we used to face. I have stepped up my game in doing business, with many transactions now done via my mobile phone. With it, I order goods or make deliveries to clients in Kenya without necessarily traveling there. Formal trade has cut down crossing times from two days to between 30 minutes and one day depending on the volume of goods one has. My advice to women is that everything requires patience. We need to acquire knowledge to overcome ignorance, which is still a big problem. Thanks to EASSI, we are now aware of the customs procedures and can no longer be cheated like before.
NAKIMERA ZULFARSuccess in clothes business because of EASSI
My name is NAKIMERA ZULFAR. I belong to a group called Bivamuntuyo which was formed during the intervention by UWESO. I had the privilege of attending the WOGE skills training in Jewelry and this has not only given me more money but has changed my life. The growth in sales is greater than my business in clothes. Thanks to EASSI for this opportunity to empower women!
EASSI and DSW continued to support women and girls’ groups with startup capital in the WOGE project.The startup support was given to the groups after they were equipped with practical skills in various cottage industries for improved economic self-reliance. 84 DSW groups were supported with utensils, furniture, stoves, refrigerators, washing machines and other materials based on project need while 8 EASSI groups in Missenyi, Tanzania were given tie and dye materials as well as chicks (chicken) and feeds. The startup capital and training then enabled the groups to cascade their knowledge and skills to their knowledge and skills to their communities helping to break the cycle of poverty. After receiving startup capital, Fatuma Omary of Mazingara Handeni groups in Tanzania Testimonials said, “With the new 25 improved beehives provided to our groups we are expecting to harvest high quality honey production and increase the groups’ income compared to the traditional bee hives we had before EASSI came in”
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