Bagaga Kwagalana: “A dream come true” for Sylvia in Uganda

|  Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Bagaga Kwagalana: “A dream come true” for Sylvia in Uganda

In Canadian Feed The Children’s partner communities around the world, women’s livelihood programs help women increase their economic power. One of the most powerful is the Village Savings and Loan Association or VSLA. 

In a VSLA, members deposit their money into a shared fund, and each member receives a set amount on a rotating basis each month. This allows them to start a business, cover costs for family needs, and access credit often for the very first time.

For one group in Uganda, their VSLA called Bagaga Kwagalana (“Collaborating Rich”) has meant greater financial security for them and their families

Sylvia is the chairperson of Bagaga Kwagalana. Here, she shares why the group’s success has been "a dream come true."

Before Bagaga Kwagalana

Before Bagagga Kwagalana, I really faced a number of challenges. I wasn't involved in anything that could bring me money. My husband also didn’t earn as much money as we needed.

My children [wanted to eat] some kind of food they had seen another child in the neighbourhood eat, but I couldn’t buy it for my lovely girls. At school, I could even fail to buy just a pencil for my child.  

There were times when I felt like supporting my husband offset some of the financial needs in our home, but I couldn’t and that hurt me a lot. I was therefore ready to take advantage of any opportunity and that’s how I joined this VSLA. 

Our culture of saving has improved. Our life is changing. We now have bigger dreams. We are a happy family.
Sylvia, VSLA chairperson, Uganda

Working together

We were formed in February 2019 with 25 members, and we all had the same common interest. I think that’s why we are all still together and progressing. We started with the share value of Uganda shillings 5,000, upgraded to 10,000 and now we are at 20,000 (around $7.27 CAD).

We have done trainings in leadership, managing teams, basic business and financial management, interpersonal skills, communication skills, and many more.

In terms of the challenges, we’ve not encountered many because we have always tried to prevent any misunderstandings among members. We are listening leaders and we have encouraged effective communication in our group, and that’s why we have built trust.

Building success together

We sometimes make time to share what each one of us has managed to do for themselves from the loans taken or the monies received at the end of the cycle and I tell you, members have a number of good transformational stories.

Some women have big food and grocery stalls from which they earn money but didn’t have them before they joined the group. 

We have two mothers who have excelled in poultry farming. Their farms are still small but progressing. These are the ones who brought us the idea to come up with a group poultry project, something we are working towards. 

I am now a business owner! This salon … you can’t imagine what it means to me.
Sylvia, VSLA Chairperson, Uganda

How the group changed Sylvia’s life

I am now a business owner! This salon … you can’t imagine what it means to me. Having this business is a dream come true. I am now earning from my skills. 

It’s now the two of us, I and my husband, earning to sustain and develop our family.

Our culture of saving has improved. Our life is changing. We now have bigger dreams. We are a happy family. 

Thank you to Canadian supporters

All I hear in our community are the big things Canadians have done in schools and in homes. I want to thank the supporters from Canada for working with us. I never knew that at one point in time, I would become a leader in the community but I am one now. Thank you very much!

Learn more about how women around the world are building economic independence for themselves, their families and their communities in partnership with Canadian supporters.

Listen to Why we partner with women, Episode 2 of our podcast series First Comes Food, now streaming on our website and wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts. 

First Comes Food: Episode 2 Why we partner with women. Talata stands tall in a beautiful Ghanaian dress and headwrap, smiling confidently against a backdrop of the river where she farms her fish, and a cloudless blue sky.