SOURCE: Village Enterprise

Village Enterprise

April 17, 2012 12:58 ET

Village Enterprise Giving LRA Victims New Future

Rural Ugandans Building Household Incomes

SAN CARLOS, CA--(Marketwire - Apr 17, 2012) - As accounts of the Lord's Resistance Army's atrocities -- and those of its leader Joseph Kony -- fill the news, thousands of Northern Ugandans are rebuilding their lives with the help of Village Enterprise, a leading California-based microenterprise development nonprofit with offices in Uganda and Kenya. Village Enterprise has been providing the resources to start a small business to individuals living in the internally-displaced persons (IDP) camps, and to those trying to relocate back to their disrupted villages, since 2008 (and in Uganda since 1987). These businesses are a sustainable response to the terror and despair that has wracked Northern Uganda for over 20 years.

Household Income Solutions and Impact
Ugandan government forces eventually drove the LRA from Uganda five years ago. The conflict cost many lives, devastated infrastructure, and destroyed sustainable sources of household income. While the focus of the Ugandan government (and many NGOs) has been to rebuild roads, schools and health centers, Village Enterprise is working to create sustainable sources of personal income.

Village Enterprise (www.villageenterprise.org) has helped groups of 3-5 individuals in Northern Uganda start over 500 businesses since 2008, improving the lives of over 8,000 men, women, and children with better nutrition, education, and healthcare. Businesses include goat rearing and the farming of rice, sesame, peanuts, and cotton. This nonprofit -- the only one of its kind in East Africa -- provides business and financial literacy training, as well as mentoring, through a network of business mentors. The seed capital -- a grant of $150 which does not have to be repaid -- is typically used to buy improved seeds and hardier goat breeds, and to open and till fallow land. Groups of 10 businesses are formed into Business Savings Groups, which provide critical business and social support, group savings, and access to credit for its members.

Report from the Field: Micro-Economic Opportunities Rebuilding Families
Charles Erongot, Uganda Country Director for Village Enterprise, has seen the havoc -- and transformation -- firsthand. He explains, "The key to reversing the sense of hopelessness bred of illiteracy, disease, and social injustice is providing micro-economic opportunity, building small groups of business owners and Business Savings Groups."

A Member of Parliament: Village Enterprise Playing an Essential Role
Dr. Eriaku Peter Emmanuel is the Honorable Member of Parliament for Kapelebyong sub-county, one of the areas badly hit by the LRA in the Teso region. He supports the Village Enterprise effort, noting, "Village Enterprise intervention in relation to victims of the LRA conflict is spot-on in filling the gaps left by the Government Peace, Recovery & Development Programme (PRDP) and the Northern Uganda Social Action Fund (NUSAF). These two programmes [are not] addressing the pertinent issue of household income... Without avenues for generation of household income, LRA-affected families shall neither be able to provide scholastic materials, school uniforms, and lunch packs required... nor will they be able to access the cost-shared medical treatment in Government Health Centres. Interventions by Village Enterprise are therefore a step in the right direction towards plugging Government programming gaps in the post-LRA communities in Northern Uganda."

For more information, visit http://www.villageenterprise.org or e‐mail info@villageenterprise.org.