From widow to business owner – Financial management training supports women’s economic independence in Uganda

Mapendo hymyilee kameralle.

Mapendo Sifa, 30, a mother of three, has lived in Uganda for close to thirteen years now. Mapendo lost her husband four years ago, leaving her a single parent. Her husband used to be the breadwinner of the family and his passing was a huge blow for the whole family.

“I thought life would end for us. I had no vision or plan of how to move on from the loss,” Mapendo narrates.

According to Mapendo, by the time Finnish Refugee Council’s trainers approached her about the financial management training, she was at her lowest in life. “We had been spending all our cash assistance from World Food Programme without saving. I always left the ground with no money and came back home to borrow items and food which would then be cleared with the next month’s cash assistance.”

At the training, the group was taught about budgeting, planning and saving. They were also encouraged to discuss and plan for finances as a family. Soon after, Mapendo and her family started having meetings to discuss and agree on household needs and planned expenditure. They developed a home policy of no spending beyond the agreed monthly budget. “Previously, the moment I got any money, I just went to the market and came back without any cash left on me,” says Mapendo.

After the training, Mapendo started buying flour and reselling it in the Kyaka refugee settlement in western Uganda. This was knowledge on investment that she had received in the training. She also started giving out small loans which were paid back with interest, and this helped her accumulate money. As a result, Mapendo has almost doubled her initial capital.

“I feel so happy and proud of myself and how far I have come since the death of my husband. I am now able to sustain the family. My children are now in school and I also have an emergency fund in case of any issues that could arise.” Mapendo testifies that the relationship with her family has greatly improved since they started sharing openly about finances.

Mapendo’s young brother always missed classes because of the long commutes but is now away in boarding school which Mapendo pays for from her business earnings. In the future she hopes to expand her business and to build a better and safer home for her family.

“How I wish I had received this knowledge on budgeting and saving earlier, when cash assistance was still high, I would be so well off, even better than I am right now,” Mapendo confesses.

Finnish Refugee Council organizes financial management training in Uganda’s refugee settlements with the aim of giving refugees the means to earn their own livelihoods. Women, especially mothers responsible for providing for their families, are the primary target group of FRC’s financial management training. Education promotes gender equality and the majority of participants in FRC’s trainings are women. Education and strengthening the skills to earn livelihood are also crucial for reducting poverty.

Read more about our work in Uganda.

support refugee women in uganda

By donating to our work, you can ensure the continuity of our work with refugee women in Uganda and other operating countries.

Examples of how you can support refugee women’s education, livelihood, well-being, and human rights:

  • 15 €, one refugee woman has access to entrepreneurship training and gets the opportunity to earn an independent livelihood.
  • 52 €, one refugee woman learns basic literacy and numeracy skills.
  • 100 €, support access to shelter and assistance for victims of gender-based violence.