dfcu bank in partnership with Monitor Publication Limited’s Daily Monitor and Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) have been running a program dubbed ‘Rising Woman’ aimed at recognizing, celebrating and promoting a culture of mentorship among women in business. Nakayenze Sandra emerged as the third runner up in the Rising Womanproposal writing competition and won UGX: 5,000,000 and a study tour trip to Nairobi. Below is her story.
Four years ago, Sandra Nakayenze set out to change the lives of women coffee farmers in the hills of Sironko district. The social, economic, religious and cultural hardships encountered by both young rural women and the girl child in her village compelled Sandra to form Kalaa Mugoosi Women Empowerment Limited.
At 22 years of age, Sandra ventured into a trade predominantly occupied by men and facing multiple challenges on account of her age. She says people really never took her seriously because she was young.
“I grew up on a coffee farm and I know that women contribute 80% of labor in coffee production but they earn less compared to their male counterparts. When it comes to marketing they are not there so I wanted to position myself to be able to access the markets and also make a difference by inspiring other women to venture outside their normal routine of field work,” says Sandra.
Filled with big dreams and the desire to see them come true, she took a leap of faith and approached Great Lakes Company with some coffee she had prepared from her father’s farm. She promised to sell to them better high quality coffee if they accepted to do business with her. As luck would have it, she was given a chance Sandra says she would get credit from Great Lakes to pay farmers then deliver coffee as promised that way both the farmers and buyers got a good bargain through the elimination of the middle men.
Her resilience in the face of challenges has enabled her tobecame a very successful coffee farmer who has improved the standards of living for women through the village SACCO that gives women loans and also buys their coffee at a good price. The savings group so far has 1,200 members and is still growing.
“After 3 years of trading in coffee, we thought about how we could position and market ourselves better so we embarked on trying to produce specialty coffee. That’s the business proposal we submitted to the ‘Rising Woman’ competition. We needed the money to purchase another pulping machine which would increase our production volumes since it pulps about 1,000kgs per hour. It would also reduce the time we spent on pulping one coffee bag,”says Sandra.
Through the initiative many women have been able to earn income over time. The cooperative targets coffee farmers as they work towards for social economic transformation for the women and young mothers.
Through its Women in Business program, dfcu Bankrecognizes such efforts aimed at changing society in general. Sandra is one of the ten women entrepreneurs who travelled to Nairobi in an all-expense paid study tour trip courtesy of the dfcu WiB programme.
Nakayenze’s story is one of struggle, persistence and challenges many young people can relate to while venturing into business. Pursuing the dream of producing the highest quality Arabic coffee still remains her dream. “I’m carrying the vision of 1,000 women who are counting on me” she reiterates.