Getting ahead in the slums of Kampala

Getting ahead in the slums of Kampala

Last year, Concern's Julie Harris travelled to Uganda where Concern works with some 44,600 people in the slums of Kampala. In this piece she writes about an inspiring woman from the slums who, with Concern's help, has managed to start her own business.

In Kampala, unemployment, HIV prevalence and the cost of living are high, while wages are very low or non-existent. Facilities here are limited and water-borne diseases are common. Women here are particularly vulnerable, often lacking skills to generate income and with little power over household budgets.

Concern provides small loans to 400 women, which they use to increase their income while gaining access and control over resources, services and decision making.

One of these women is Theresa Nalongo Naluzze, an amazing woman who runs a popular restaurant in the slum district. Born in 1928, she is an incredible 80 years old – almost double the life expectancy for women.

Five of her nine children have died, and she now cares for seven grandchildren and another orphan. Theresa has taken out and repaid two Concern loans – for a total of €190. She used the first to set up her restaurant, and the second to expand the business: “I used to feed ten people a day, but now I can serve 30…plus the family – and support their education.” She has plans to apply for a third loan: “I always inject the loan into the business. But when there is a very big rise in the price of food…the business is under pressure with the cost of supporting the grandchildren.”

Theresa works hard to give the children a good start in life, but worries that she doesn’t have enough time for them: “I think of their education all the time. I want them to get as much education as possible.” She also worries about the future, as her landlord is considering selling the restaurant plot.

Concern’s projects in Kampala aim to benefit all 44,600 slum inhabitants, so that many more people, like Theresa, can improve their lives and step out of poverty.