Projects for Peace: The Vision of Kathryn W. Davis

"My challenge to you is to bring about a mind-set of preparing for peace, instead of preparing for war."

Women Empowerment through Microfinance

Project #
University of Oklahoma
  • Sandile Dube
  • Arthur Makumbi
  • Oluwadara Olayiwola

Women Empowerment through Microfinance

When he returned home to Uganda in summer 2015 after graduating from United World College USA, Arthur Makumbi’s mother asked him to lend a small amount of money to the People’s Calabash, a women’s cooperative that was helping over 200 women in the Kampala area develop businesses and meet urgent financial needs through microfinancing. The experience resonated with Arthur and two friends from UWC-USA, Oluwadara Olayiwola from Nigeria and Sandile Dube from Swaziland. So last year the three brought a substantial microfinancing project to the cooperative, supplementing their Davis grant with funding for travel costs donated by their schools.

A calabash is a sort of pot used in Uganda to store water and ferment food and beverages, “which signifies providing the proper incubation to establish growth,” the students write. With help from Arthur’s mother, Ms. Yawe Sheillah, the three sorted cooperative members in need of assistance into groups of five, then made small loans on verified collateral at 8.3% interest with three months to repay. Once the first loan was repaid, borrowers could take out a larger loan, continuing the cycle until they had secured the full amount they needed.

The project loaned to 23 women. That number has since grown to almost 30, as Mrs. Yawe continues to manage it. “This is what I feel our biggest impact is and will continue to be,” Oluwadara writes: “giving people quicker and more affordable loans than are generally available in Uganda.”