Economic access, education, and healthcare are inextricably linked. With over 50% of the total population under the age of 15 years, Uganda has a very high unemployment rate, in which 18-30 year-old make-up 64% of unemployed persons. In rural Uganda, people live in poverty and consequently they have no possibility to afford the costs of basic needs. There are no enough jobs and employment opportunities are bleak – all people lack productive assets and micro-credit opportunities. Unemployment leads to poverty – without any income, the inability to save translates into inability to invest!.
Most people in rural areas of Uganda barely produce enough to consume, without a surplus to invest in growth. In case of shocks like a lost harvest or death in the family, a complete lack of safety nets makes families extremely vulnerable. When people are too poor, it is very different to make a decision for a better future. Without employment, many women and youth maybe forced into the position of sexual abuse, and exploitation. When peoples’ incomes are increased, they are able to send their children to school, can afford visiting a healthy facility in case of an illness, and can embrace good nutritional security.
PARC aims to empower marginalized people living in rural communities in Uganda by providing relevant life skills training and income generating opportunities to enhance not only their survival but also their capacity to sustain their basic needs and support their families for a better future.
COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT CENTRE
With or without a formal education background, all people can tap into skilling ventures to boost their incomes and improve livelihoods. There is increased recognition that investment in women bring valuable skills, empathy, and an ability to relate to and support others who are accessing the social service system. At the same time, the opportunity to work allows women living in poverty to change their economic status and feel empowered by their contribution to society.
To achieve this, we run a program that provides in-depth training preparing disadvantaged groups (youth and women) as entrepreneurs as well as use a gender-based approach to identify specific barriers and challenges they face in the workforce. This centre will double to provide vocational skill and competence development and pre-school (daycare) to the community – creating new life opportunities for social change. The centre will admit participants annually in cohorts, who will be trained in various skills including tailoring and knitting, salon/hair dressing, carpentry, welding, mushroom growing, and computer literacy – all being incorporated with basic literacy (Reading/Writing and Numeracy) training, financial literacy training, and business management training.
The trainees who excel will be retained at the centre to help train the new entrants – making the centre more sustainable and cost effective in terms of operations. After completing this training, the graduates have the option get one-to-one support through our social enterprises in some form of apprenticeship, from where they will be followed up and continuously mentored to put the knowledge and skills acquired into practice. Centre alumnae will be mobilized to form groups, which will be then given further supported through our other programs such as specialty training to produce products for sale, with the returns being shared between PARC and beneficiaries. PARC financial return will covers the day-to-day project costs. During this time of apprenticeship, participants will be in a better position to decide if they will voluntarily be working at the centre of if they are starting their own business, and through the alumnae groups, they can apply to be supported by provision of micro-loans for business start-up.
This is a social business project that will allow the youth and women to learn and develop a specific skill set in either in craftsmanship, tailoring, knitting & embroidery, jewelry design, pottery, beauty salon or leather works, empowering them to become sustainable. This project is part of the psycho-social support program whose primary objective is to use crafts (Art-Craft) as a form of art therapy for vulnerable girls and women, and /or those who have who have gone through various traumatic situations and challenges including sexual exploitation and abuse, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence. In addition, the tailoring and knitting training activities will also lead to the production of school uniforms and school sweaters, particularly for children at our school and any other orders from the community/schools, as well as making fashion-tailored clothes for public demand (customer driven orders for women, men and children), and making toys and dolls from clothe remains for our early childhood development (ECD) service promotions in the community.
As the program stabilizes, we will seek contracts with multiple schools, businesses, and organizations to make uniforms, sweaters, bags, and other local demand items such as reusable sanitary pads and dolls. Concurrently, these youth and women will continue to perfect their handiwork in the creation of beautiful merchandise that is sold in the tourist craft market in Uganda and overseas. Every item that is made and /or sold will not only supports PARC, but provides an income for the youth and women, enabling them to take care of themselves and their families.
Our enterprise model is not only about equipping the youth and women with life skills, but also giving them equipment to set up business after completing training program – we will give equipment loans which they can then pay in small installments while earning a livelihood. This way, they are able to provide for themselves and their loved ones.
The youth and women we are incredibly talented weavers and indigenous farmers whose main barrier between a life of poverty and unlimited possibilities is access to a market. Despite producing most of the world’s food, local farmers tend to be food insecure themselves: globally, they form the majority of people living in poverty because they lack links to better markets that would enable them to receive fair prices for their work.
PARC is committed to helping artisans and farmers bring their products (handmade goods, coffee and cocoa) to market on more than “a fair-trade basis”, improve their livelihoods, and develop sustainable businesses with the goal of encouraging self-reliance, minimizing rural exodus to urban centres (cities), advancing food security. Rural poverty is complex, and there is no single solution to the problems artisans and farmers face. To address this, we are providing;-
Training: we offer production value-chain training (business education), coupled with quality control training and support
Micro-loans: We offer interest-free loans with a flexible repayment system allowing them to pay back in any amount throughout the loan term.
Value addition: We facilitated the production process (whether it is just recycling local waste into beads or jewelry, or it is washing to drying coffee or cocoa,) and assist to sorting and grading products before finally being stored.
Market facilitation: Promote market access through development partners abroad (retailers in the US, etc) and an online e-commerce platform. PARC is negotiating partnerships /contracts with multiple businesses (organizations) of selling of merchandises to them on a collaboration – that is more than fair trade, where in addition to the better market offered a portion of the net profit from the sales will be donated to fund local projects in the community.
ALL PROFITS SUPPORTED BY DONATIONS ARE RECYCLED BACK INTO THE COMMUNITY THROUGH
LIFE SKILL TRAINING
In order to provide more economic development services to the community, we will offer a series of skill set training at PARC community Empowerment Centre. The training programs will have courses running from six (6) month to one (1) year – an intensive course that uses highly practical and business centered approaches to create local entrepreneurs. The participants will be first trained in a practical skill of their own choosing, then provided with business classes coupled with mentoring, AND finally offered the opportunity to apply for a loan to open their own enterprises utilizing their new capabilities!
Throughout the program, we provide integrated support so that the families can better plan for their future that involves training of zonal volunteers in OVC care, who then train caregivers and reinforces better care with OVC caregivers during home visits. Additionally, children (OVC) are trained in peer to peer counseling so that they may acquire cognitive skills that will enable them to realize their potential and also improve their interpersonal skills.
Each year, our team together with local community leaders identifies the most vulnerable children who would otherwise not get an education otherwise, and we put them on list for help by offering them a position at PARC schools. We intermix these children with others from the community, keeping them anonymous so they can go to school with dignity, free from the stigma of being vulnerable and in need.
Your donations supports the holistic development of individual children as well as their schools to ensure a safe and quality learning environment for every child, ultimately maximizing the impact on the community. The children in sponsorship program receive an education, psychosocial support, and are visited at their homes on a quarterly basis to identify areas of need in their health and livelihood. An important part of the program is relationship with the children’s relatives. In order to become a beneficiary in this program, we require our children’s parents or caregivers relatives to work alongside us and take an active role in building their children’s futures – as such we encourage families to provide what they can, whether as small as a couple of school supplies or as big as partial tuition. Families of benefiting children are linked directly to the skill development programs to promote income-generating opportunities for these children and their families, breaking the stigma of vulnerability by showing the community that we all have a role to play!
PROVISION OF MICROLOANS
We pair the giving out of micro-loans with financial literacy, comprehensive management, leadership, business training, and incentives to savings. Our community-based financial literacy program provides trainings and workshops through the village savings and loan association. This continued learning, paired with income-earning opportunities, enables women to become confident leaders, in charge of family finances, health, and education. Through with financial literacy, our beneficiaries are taught the value of long term financial planning and receive incentives for the deposits made in their personal savings accounts. We charge low interest on the loans such that we’re able to cover some of the expenses to deliver the training and support needed to ensure that our clients succeed.
Health costs in Uganda remain high – a recent study by WHO revealed that Ugandans spend 22 percent of their earnings on health care. A serious or chronic illness of a family member usually means either the death of the person affected, because he has no access to adequate medical care, or the financial ruin of the entire family. The idea of health insurance is largely unheard of in rural Uganda.
Micro-insurance: We will have an insurance package where the patients at our clinic pay for 50% of their bills, while the micro-insurance covers the other half of all charges incurred for a health visit. This project will be subsidized by proceeds from fair trade market that will help set-up an insurance fund, and encourage families to save money and they are able to use it at the time when they fall sick. Every member of the project will able to get his/her money back whenever they need it – so it does not work like an insurance company but rather saves and keeps money for the community health support.
Field patient program: We will to collaborate with local and international health professionals to organize mobile interventions, referral and financial assistance to patients whose health conditions require more advance treatment at a specialized healthcare facility.