Francis Baguma lives in a small village called Rutoma, in Western Uganda. At 28, he was striving to build a family and have a normal life; a dream Francis has carried since he lost both parents. Venturing into farming is not easy for many young people in Uganda, and Francis is no exception.
His irregular school attendance caused by his family’s financial setbacks led Francis to drop out when he was 15. With a sick dad, Francis left the Kamwenge District. He was looking for a job in the capital Kampala, 300 kilometers away, but it was difficult for him to find one at such a young age. Three months later, he returned home to Kamwenge and his hopes for a better life dimmed.
"When I returned to the village, I wanted to start a family. I felt lonely but how would I look after a family without money?" Francis wondered.
Events took a new twist when Francis was enrolled in the USAID Graduating to Resilience Activity. Women and youth are the target entry points to improve the lives of extremely vulnerable and poor households from food insecurity and fragile livelihoods to self-reliance. Exhausted with his unclear path, Francis opted to give farming a try. He took advantage of the training in agronomy provided by his coach Stella Ntakirutimana. Francis also joined the Village Saving and Loans Association which helped him make weekly contributions using a portion of the monthly consumption support from the program.
Thanks to the training, he now knows that his crops will yield a good harvest and become a source of food and income from the surplus. He is farming from home after he set up a banana plantation in his backyard where he also grows other food crops, including groundnuts, maize, beans, and sweet potatoes.
Because of the financial literacy training, in the last 11 months he was able to save enough money, buy a plot of land and build an iron-sheet roofed house. "I’m happy to have a place I can call home" says Francis.
In August 2019, Francis received a cash transfer of USD 300 from the Activity, which he used to start a goat rearing business with six goats. At 30 and earning an income, Francis plans to complete his house and start a family. His business skills have developed and with good record-keeping he has learnt how to spend his money wisely to improve his living standards.
"After learning many skills with my coach, I now know that when we receive guidance, we can progress." Francis says.