Kabite Prosy Kibirige is one of the largest distributors of household wares in Entebbe, a city of approximately 70,000 in southern Uganda. Her wholesale business earns up to UGS 700,000 (US$ 300) a day. This success however comes after nearly 14 years of perseverance and hard work while taking care of her family. Her husband of 36 years does not have steady employment, leaving her as the primary provider for three boys and two girls, including two HIV-positive sons and a number of other dependants.
In 1996, Kabite borrowed money from her family to start a small retail shop. She describes it as a long journey of ups and downs; she had no prior business experience and struggled. In June 1997 a friend told her about a “women’s bank” in Kampala that would allow them to borrow small amounts as a group. “I became enthusiastic,” she said. “This was the genesis of my long journey with UFT [Uganda Finance Trust] for the last 13 years.”
Her initial loan was UGS 300,000 (US$ 240) that she used to purchase stock for her store. “This was a big boost; day by day I watched my business grow.” Within a few years sheexpanded her business and transformed it into a wholesale shop. “Finances were not going to be a hindrance since by now I had established a working relationship with UFT.” She took another loan of UGS 800,000 (US$ 500).
As it became increasingly hard for her to travel from Entebbe to Kampala to do her banking, she and other borrowers in the area requested that UFT open a branch in the area, which they did. This made it easier for the women to borrow, repay loans and save.
Before her business success her children had not been in school. “My husband couldn’t support the family due to his meager earnings; with my business blossoming I was able to put them back in school.” The family had also lived in a mud house with a leaking roof. As Kabite accumulated savings, she was able to begin construction on a new house. Construction almost stalled at one point, but UFT gave her a top-up loan to continue building. “My house is now almost near completion. This is a dream I have always had to give my family a roof over their head, besides providing for them as a mother,” she said.
“UFT ultimately has been my greatest friend and partner. The smaller loans, which wouldn’t easily be attainable in big banks, have made a difference in my life. All my children have finished school, my grandchildren too are studying. As a business woman, mother, and family bread winner I am really glad for the choice I made to join the institution.”