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Gulu City VSLAs become cooperatives

GULU– Two Village Saving and Loan Associations [ VSLAs ] comprising of women traders in Gulu City have been transformed into cooperatives in a bid to formalise their operations.

Gulu Women Produce Dealers Cooperative and Gulu Main Market Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Cooperative were transformed from VSLAs with support from the Eastern African Sub-Regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women [EASSI] under its ‘making trade work for women project’, a three-year project that started in March 2020. The project ends in March 2023.

A total of 25 leaders and some members of the two cooperatives underwent two-days training on financial literacy, leadership and group dynamics, organised by EASSI at Hotel Nok in Gulu City last week.

Madinah Rukiah, the Chairperson of Gulu Women Produce Dealers Cooperative with over 80 members told theCooperator that the training has enhanced her skills in managing the group.

“We have been having a challenge where members borrow loans and fail to pay pack. Some even disappear with the money but this training has now given us skills for example as a chairperson I now know that it’s my duty to know the credit worthiness of a member before we give them a loan,” Rukiah said.

Rukiah also said that gaining knowledge and skills on cross-border trading have encouraged members to export their goods to neighbouring countries like South Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania.

“EASSI came in and trained us on cross border trade. Personally I now export my products to South Sudan. EASSI helps us with clearing our goods. We have been fearing the high taxes at the border but the organization is now helping us negotiate better terms,” she said.

Brenda Aromorach, the project assistant- Gender and Economic Program at EASSI Elegu and Nimule border said the training came after a needs assessment carried out in January 2022.

“We did a needs assessment in January with the different cooperatives and discovered that they needed financial literacy, how to manage the SACCO, how to grow their money, how to lobby for help and how to benefit from government grants,” Aromorach said.

She added that, “Most of the leaders did not have any leadership training and we felt that they needed leadership training for the groups to succeed.”

“We are also interested in seeing more women join cross border trade by linking them to market opportunities in neighbouring countries. We explained to them that much as they are in Gulu, you can do trade with someone in South Sudan without going there. The most important thing here is information sharing,” Aromorach said.

The making trade work for women project that is being funded by Global Affairs Canada through TradeMark East Africa is targeting to reach 10,000 women in Acholi and Lango.

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