Esther entirely elevated her life after joining 1000 Shillings in 2012 and opening her business. While before she did not have a job and was unable to pay rent, provide three full meals a day or save any money, now she can do all of these things and more for her children.
“My business has improved a lot in that I am able to save, I can now rent, compared to last time, I didn’t have a job,” Esther said. “Then, I could not even be able to pay rent. But right now I can pay for rent, I can do everything.”
Esther’s determination since joining 1000 Shillings catapulted her business to new levels. Not only does Esther run her own business, but she also creates paper bead necklaces for income, works for a cleaning service in Mbale and sifts broken rice to earn extra money. She finds all her work satisfying, but she is most proud of her stall. Last year, Ester introduced rice as the newest commodity available at her stall, and she continues to sell it successfully to her customers. As a result, Esther has expanded her stock even further, now selling avocadoes, tomatoes, oranges, mangoes, onions, paraffin, and charcoal on occasion. She also sells bananas from her tree located behind Child of Hope, which she planted two years ago when she worked as a cleaner for the school.
Before 1000 Shillings, Esther didn’t have a job or her own business. Through business classes, mentorship and some faith Esther has made a total turnaround.
Esther is one of 20-plus women who sift broken rice in Doko. She does this to earn extra income for her family. The broken rice is called “chenga” and feeds either the women’s families or their businesses. Esther gets to keep the chenga she sifts and sell it at her stand in Namatala. According to Esther, the majority of the women working in Doko are single mothers like herself. They are some of the poorest women in Namatala, doing their best to provide for their families.
“If you have your market stall, and you sit at your place and you sell your things if you have, but if you don’t have anything to sell you will walk down [to Doko] and look for jobs,” Esther says.
Martha, another woman within the 1000 Shillings 2012 class, regularly works alongside Esther in Doko. The chenga sifting not only provides necessary food or income for the women, but also surrounds them with a supportive community.