The motivation for Amy, Alexander, Angshu and Lami to apply on the program, was the opportunity to gain experience working in a developing country. They felt excited about the chance to work directly with a nonprofit based in Uganda, but there was also some uncertainty. The time difference between Chicago and Uganda is eight hours and there was concern about internet connectivity issues on both sides. Fortunately, the time difference did not greatly deter their overall experience, and internet connectivity issues were minimal.
The goal of their project was to cultivate financial literacy and business knowledge in Nakanyonyi SACCO’s target community by guiding community members through the SACCO’s membership and loan application processes, providing training on good business practices, and raising community awareness of potential benefits of SACCO participation. These overarching goals were identified after the first community engagement session where community members underscored difficulties they faced with running a business during a pandemic. In addition, the loan application process appeared to be cumbersome and community members were unable to complete the process without the aid of SACCO employees.
To resolve these issues, the students along with support from Nakanyonyi staff broke the solution into 4 activities: a guide through the application process for SACCO membership, a guide through the loan application process, workshops for teaching good business practices relevant to local businesses sustainably, and community talks to raise awareness of the potential benefit of SACCO participation. These activities promote sustainable development by empowering the local community, rather than offering short term solutions. The heuristic developed for the SACCO membership application process and the loan application process can be used for the foreseeable future, until there are changes to the processes. Similarly, the workshops imparted knowledge to community members and can be passed on for generations.
Future participants and donors can support the project by providing the SACCO with additional resources to increase community participation, including financial support to host more workshops.
Partner Organization: Nakanyonyi Good Shepherd