“Walking with a stove on my head all day is exhausting, but I'd do it again tomorrow. I used the profits from the sales to pay for my son's medication - and then we had fun working as a group which makes it easier for us not to notice the weight of the stove!" – Faridah, a member of Aliodrozo Saving Group.
It's early morning in Arua, located in the West Nile Region of Uganda, but the scorching heat feels like the afternoon sun and a group of women are busy loading a van with cook stoves. They appear excited as they move up and down, carrying the unique-looking cook stoves – they laugh and exchange jokes among themselves.
The women in question are members of the Aliodrozo Savings Group, which stands for "let's eliminate poverty" in the local lugbar language. They live in the same area and meet once a week to pool their savings in the group which was voluntarily formed in November 2021. Their savings have grown over time but most important to them is their ambition to accomplish, learn, and become self-reliant is rising. It was their desire to do more that led them to enroll for a three-day training to become solar product resellers, which was offered by AVSI Foundation with funds from the Green Energy for Women and Youth Resilience project.
"The training was helpful, I now know how to approach a client. However, solar is not affordable for our community here." - Judith.
Judith, also a member of Aliodrozo Saving Group describes that they knew right after their training that the market for solar items was scarce and that they wouldn't have succeeded to sell the product - but that didn't stop their will to take sales into account. In March 2022 AVSI Foundation again through the Green Energy for Women and Youth Resilience project connected them to Clean Environment for Africa (CEFA), a company that sells upgraded stoves. The women embraced the challenge fast and in two days they had achieved the company's biggest sales ever.
How did they pull it off?
We use stoves, so we understand the benefits and we are better paced to convince women to acquire one for their home use, and they are buying from us especially during the local market days when there are gatherings with large numbers of people in the town.
The women identified two local markets within a twenty-kilometer radius outside Arua where they sold 70 stoves in just two days. And not only were they employed for another three days of sales the following month by the same company that recognized their added worth but they also promptly reinvested their earnings by purchasing vegetables and fruits at a market in the outskirts of the town for resale at a higher price in Arua town.
I felt energized and independent at the end of the two days. It was a whole new experience for me and I made money without the assistance of my husband even when I returned home exhausted, I was satisfied and happy about the achievement I’d made.