Central Equatoria State, News

Whitaker Initiative to aid over 300 Women

By Charles K Mark


Two counties of Terekeka and Juba, in Central Equatoria State, are set to benefit from a women’s livelihood project.

Programme Coordinator for Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI), Bush Buse disclosed during the launched of the programme in Terekeka yesterday.

He said the programme targets 40 women in Terekeka and 60 in Juba counties.

According to Buse, the first batch will begin with a training to help them generate and refine their ideas before execution.

Buse revealed that after the training, the women will be grouped into ten and given a revolving grant to support them in implementing their business ideas.

“In every group, they will be given an amount of 5,000 US dollars to support their businesses. In three years—the first year, the second year, and also the third year,” he explained.

The coordinator said the project aims to support 10 groups in a year, which will make 30 groups in three (3) years, totaling 300 women.

“The benefit is not for the 40 or the 100 women, but then it will continue. It’s a revolving fund,” she continued. “It means that as they get funds to expand their businesses or to execute their new business ideas, after six months or after a year, through the profit that they get,”

The Whitaker believes the women will be able to bring back some money into a pool managed by a VSLA, ‘Village Savings and Loans Association.’

That means the women implement businesses in groups but make savings through the pool that will enable other women to access funding in the form of loans.

“The women will also be able to lend some funds or money to other women that are interested in implementing their business ideas,” the programme coordinator lamented.

Whitaker said it hopes the women will be able to send children to school and have decision-making positions in their families since strong, economically empowered individuals can easily positively influence societies today.

For her part, Chairlady of Terekeka Women Association Asunta Paul Loku said that though more women in her region are vulnerable, she appreciates the initiatives that support women in business.

“Women here in Terekeka are the ones holding families, but most of our women are suffering. Even when you go down to the grassroots, you will see how they are struggling. For this support, we welcome it,” she said.

The chairwoman said the association submitted over fifty names of women, but only forty were selected, expressing fears of what would happen to the rest.

“For me, as the chairlady, I wanted all the names that we submitted to be trained and let them all benefit from this program. And I still plead that they reconsider their decision,” Asunta appealed.

The organization decided that among the names submitted, though all of the women will benefit from the training, only forty will be part of the revolving fund.

But Asunta feels that it is not fair to empower someone with skills and knowledge and let them sit on it.

“For me, I would think that the organization should consider sharing what they are bringing with all the women so that they are all uplifted to benefit their families,” she advocated for her fellows.

Meanwhile, Iketa Anthony, a beneficiary and a businesswoman in Terekeka, commended the initiative.

She said the support is not really big, but it will help her develop her business in order to support her family.

“I sell goods in the market, but because of the little capital, what I earn in the market is not enough to support my children,” Iketa revealed.

The trader consoled her counterparts whose names were not released to be patients, saying their chance would come at the right time.

Another Beneficiary, Erika Jackson Wani, Mother of two (2) is a tea seller and a salon attendant.

She believes the Women’s Livelihood Project will help her open her own tea shop and a salon of her own.

“I am helping a friend of mine in a tea shop, and when there is no business, I help my sister in the salon. But with this support I will be able to open my own salon and tea place,” Erika said.

“If everything goes well, I will be able to not only support and help my own family, but I will also support other people who need my support,” she continued.

She advised all the women that when such opportunities are available, they should not focus much on the money but on the knowledge, then use the knowledge to look for money.

“That way, we shall develop together,” Erika guided.

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