Village Enterprise Women Write: Why We Empower Women in Our Communities

Our staff is based in the communities where Village Enterprise is rooted. They know their villages, culture, and people. They also know what motivates them to work every day to empower women in their own communities. Here is a selection of writings from six of our female staff:

Zita Akwero mentoring business owners in Nwoya, Uganda

 

Zita Akwero, Field Associate

Nwoya, Uganda:

“I am proud to be working with women in our program because they are the backbone of every nation. When you empower one, you have empowered the whole nation. And when you want to cause change, you begin with a woman. You will be amazed by the impact it will create. Women are selfless.”

 

 

 

 

Terry Shiundu, Director of Talent Management

Nairobi, Kenya:

“God has given women the natural ability to nurture, tend, care for, and grow things. At Village Enterprise, we have been entrusted by our donors and partners to impact the lives of the people we serve. With over 75% of our business owners being women, when we empower them with entrepreneurial skills, we’re working towards ending extreme poverty. No one wants to be poor and no one ever thought… ‘how nice it is to live in poverty’… not at all! We all strive and have the vision to be better, to have richer lives, to have the ability and means to provide for our families, and there’s dignity for women in having the opportunity to make a difference for our families and to see our children go to school and have a meal every day. As women, we pride ourselves in the ability to nurture our families and that’s why I’m proud to be part of the Village Enterprise family. I know that my input as an individual in the work that I do, and the resources we invest as an organization, is making a difference in the world, albeit in a small way through the millions of households that can now have hope for a better tomorrow!

We’re challenging the status quo belief that poverty is the way of life for these communities. Women are now rising to leadership positions, are bold for change and driving the agenda because they have seen first hand that it is possible!   Happy International Women’s day to all ‘Villagers’ and the women who have been directly or indirectly impacted by our work… and to the many more who will!’

 

Nancy Shikuri, Field Associate

Kitale, Kenya:

“You will never regret investing in a woman. Every woman is unique, smart, and believes in herself and does not forget her willingness to change. Once a woman is empowered, the whole society will benefit.”

 

 

 

 

Donah Chilo, Monitoring and Evaluation Manager

Kitale, Kenya:

“Diane Mariechild once said that a woman is a full circle. Within her is the power to create, nurture and transform. However, there is still more that needs to be done so as to tap into that reservoir of power and talent. If you take a closer look at our communities, you’ll realize that for a long time, women have been trusted with keeping and maintaining a home. This includes, and not limited to, budget making, food production, among other things. This they have done diligently. However, they have limited access to finances and decision making. Personally, I have had an opportunity to taste the sweet experience of women’s empowerment. My guardians (women) taught me to be resilient, hardworking, to be a go-getter, and to never give up on my dreams. That is what women’s empowerment creates. Empowerment is not just about giving someone a fishing rod instead of a fish, but rather it goes deeper into showing this person how well to use the fishing rod. Having said this, I believe women’s empowerment is the sweetest thing that can ever happen to a woman.”

Aneno Juliet, Innovations Coordinator

Gulu, Uganda:

“Why I believe it is good to empower women within my community:

My mom is a woman who was empowered by a project in Gulu, Uganda that assisted widows. Through this program, she was able to feed us, clothe us, pay our medical bills, pay her rent and also send us to school. She was able to afford all the basic needs of her children, and this is a lady who did not go to school because most families did not believe in educating the girl child.

With this I believe like my mother, there are other women out there struggling to raise their children. If they are empowered, they will be able to bring up their children responsibly. One thing I learned from my mother is that she always passed on these values to us. She encouraged us to participate in the different projects she was connected to and because she was empowered, she raised a social worker, a Children’s Pastor, a Doctor, a multi-instrumentalist, and a nurse.”

“I, therefore, say this: empower more women in my community.”

 

Business owners in Nwoya, Uganda greet each other

 

Rachel Munyifwa, Innovations Coordinator

Kitale, Kenya:

“Dear VE Women,

Sometimes I look back and wonder, what have I achieved after a quarter of a century? Society has positioned “unreachable” standards for women to achieve and to be able to compete with men! I wonder why we have to brag and iterate our achievements to validate our existence. The famous glass ceiling exists in every aspect of a woman’s life. I recently began my career, call me a newbie, and one unforgettable memory is being told that women wait to have 100% of a job’s qualifications to apply for that particular job. Why is this normal for most women if not for men? What are we afraid of? I would like to remind you that we could all learn from failure. However, I’m also aware that the playing field is unequal, which makes it difficult for women to possess the same confidence as men when it comes to applying for jobs.Having the opportunity to work with an organization like Village Enterprise makes me feel empowered. Most of the business owners that Village Enterprise supports are women! I witness the new possibilities that women conquer every day by running their own businesses here in Western Kenya. Continuously encouraging women to know their worth is our mission. All women!I want to be different and not live up to social norms, but I do not want to do it alone. Being African, I am grateful for the teachings from my parents such as honesty, hard work, vulnerability, trust, and the list goes on. Sometimes we may wonder who to look up to, well it’s simple: start with yourself. Being aware of your strength can be difficult, but investing in time to learn more about you provides guidance. I believe women must support each other by encouraging those around us even if it means on a daily basis. So give a woman a compliment today. Therefore, join me and together let us appreciate one another by acknowledging our strengths and working on our weaknesses. The world has phenomenal women.

Your fellow woman,

Rachel Munyifwa”

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