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Success for Refugee Business Women in Uganda

By Diana Salume Aqrchet, Project Associate, Refugee Financial Inclusion Programme - Uganda

New Business for Female Refugees in Uganda

Lorna, a 24-year-old refugee, has lived in Uganda's capital city Kampala with her mother and siblings for five years. Seeing an opportunity, she started to teach a group of women tailoring skills that she had learnt at school in South Sudan before war forced her family to leave their country and home.

To celebrate International Women’s Day 2022, the UNHCR hosted a Refugee Market Day in Kampala - showcasing products and ideas from female refugees. Opportunity International’s partner, Opportunity Bank Uganda Ltd (OBUL), was invited to join in and celebrate the courage and resilience of millions of women and children who have been uprooted from their homes due to conflict and persecution. The 8th March 2022 was a day filled with music, dance, art, sports and exhibitions at the Kololo School, Kampala.

International Women's Day 2022 Kampala market for refugee business women

Lorna, and the refugee women she’s teaching and working alongside, received financial training from Opportunity International through OBUL’s financial inclusion officers. After three months of training she was offered a job to teach her tailoring skills to other women in refugee association groups that OBUL partner with.

Market day success

Lorna joined OBUL for the Market Day with products that she and her group have made. With high demand she made great sales of head dresses, table cloths, bags, necklaces, African print dresses and shirts - amounting to Ugx 250,000 (£54). “I have never made sales this much in a single day!” Lorna delightedly confessed as she headed home.

She’ll use the money to provide basic needs for her family – helping her siblings to stay in school by paying for their education and resources. Lorna dreams of being able to operate an African print shop in the central business district of Kampala.

International Women's Day 2022 market day for refugee business women in Kampala, Uganda

Aside from the sales, Lorna made connections and networked with other organisations that were interested in the products she and her group make. The Refugee Market day gave a platform for partners in the Urban Refugee Working Groups to encourage each other and exchange ideas.

Opportunity Bank and its Refugee Financial Inclusion Programme

OBUL has partnered with Opportunity International over the last two years to deliver financial services to refugee communities in Uganda through the RISE (Refugees: Innovation, Self-reliance and Empowerment) project. OBUL is currently delivering financial services to a network of over 365 refugees living in four urban areas of Kampala.

OBUL also delivers a number of financial inclusion services for other vulnerable groups including people with disabilities, women and school children targeting water, sanitation and health activities.

Read how Opportunity International is creating economic opportunities with OBUL in refugee communities. 

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