FROM SMALLER GROUPS TO COOPERATIVES!
Katosi Women Development Trust to date brings together 561 women organized in 19 groups all participating in different activities and programs. The economic empowerment program helps women to engage in activities such as candle and soap making, diary what , farming among others.
Cooperatives were formed to harness and reap the benefits of working together across the various groups. Therefore, cooperative trainings are conducted to help the women learn the art and principles of working together, identify markets for their products and find solutions to increase their productivity in their various economic activities.
The cosmetics cooperative society was formed and a training conducted on 31st of October, bringing together soap, Vaseline and candle makers. The cooperative brings together a total of 48 members so far.
The training was done at the new KWDT Center at Katutu, Ntenjeru that is still under construction but can accommodate the women for their trainings.
Candle and soap making was introduced to members of KWDT by Deborah Payne, a Peace Corps volunteers, during her voluntary work in Mukono in 2007 and the women have been using the same skills as well as transferring them to other group members. The leading producers of the soap and candles so far are: Katosi women Fishing, Bakyala Kwagalana, Kalengera, Manyi Ga Balimi Kiyoola, Bulonda, Nakisunga, Bugolombe and Balabirre Kuffe. They make 60 to 70 samples of soap twice in a month.
The cooperative is organized under the leadership of the Chairperson, Awori Esther, Secretary Lunyolo Florence, Treasurer, Nakatongole Joan, Discipline, Salita Mohammed and Time Keeper, Nalongo Mukiibi.
Interesting about this group is the fact that, as soon as KWDT members received the first training in cooperatives, to simply introduce the idea to them, and identify possible cooperative societies among KWDT members, the women immediately embarked on the task of organizing themselves into a cooperative society, starting with cosmetics. At the time of the second phase of training, which was aimed at training the specific cooperatives, these 28 women had already met up 4 times, put in place their bi-laws and introduced a membership fee of UGX10.000 for each member, not mentioning the very tough conditions like expulsion if one missed 4 consecutive meetings.
This sign of autonomy, empowerment and independence doesn’t come overnight, but from a series of empowering activities, challenges and training that have boosted the capacity of the women to take charge of their own development.
The cooperative makes soaps that are good for the skin, mosquito repellent soap and Vaselines, washing soap, both liquid and bar, candles that also have an essence of mosquito repellent and lotions for the body. All these products are organic and made by the women with avocado, aloevera among other ingredients.
It is not surprising how far the women of KWDT groups have come from the timid women they used to be ; to confident and empowered women they are not.
The next challenge that women are taking on, is designing an effective marketing strategy to ensure that the increase in production is followed by an increase in sales for the cosmetics products.
Getting them started is all they needed to stand on their feet! .