At Deki, when we talk of our entrepreneurs they are often associated with young people that need a hand up to get their businesses started. However, Deki also supports elders in communities too – people, that as with any culture play incredibly valuable role.
Josephine Atoo Otema at 70 years is one of Deki’s oldest entrepreneurs and has lived through hard times – she is undoubtedly an amazing woman. She lives in Palabek Kal in Uganda, a hot and arid, sparsely populated place where she has been a refugee from the war in South Sudan for over 20 years. Josephine has seven children, one of which has died, and 10 grandchildren. Eight of Josephine’s grandchildren still live with her and she helps support them. Her husband has also recently been sick.
Josephine is a strong and much respected character in the local tightly knit community. She is also a group leader for Deki microloans in the village. The love and respect the people of the village have for her is clear - many women speak to her about their businesses, their homes, children, husbands, crops and every other aspect of life which she may be able to advise on.
As part of her job as a group leader, Josephine oversees implementing of Deki loans. She makes sure their loan is the correct amount for their business and checks they know how to invest it properly. Josephine’s help and guidance is invaluable and in the absence of traditional banks and community business training programmes, many rely upon her.
Josephine has now been able to apply for her own small loan of £130 to expand her market business. She trades mainly in maize sprouts – used for local brewing, silver fish and white beans. With her loan she is able to by increased stock at lower prices. Josephine’s business is doing well and her income has dramatically increased since taking out her loan.
With the extra income Josephine is now able to send her youngest daughter to university in Gulu to study agriculture. This is especially important, as no one in the family has been to University before especially a woman. She hopes in the future she will be able to help all 10 grandchildren to follow in her daughter’s footsteps…
As Josephine’s pays back her loan it is now being re-invested by Deki lenders into more life changing loans.