MarthaWe’re proud to be working with a brand new vendor, 1000 Shillings, to support microfinance loans to women in Uganda. And what better time to showcase these women than International Women’s Day.

1000 Shillings became the name of the company based on the amount of money that the average woman lives on per day – approximately 1,000 Ugandan Shillings, which equates to just $.40. Talk about putting things in perspective. The founders, Rebecca and Alexis, have worked in Nepal, China, Thailand, Mexico and Italy and have found inspiration and made friendships with women around the world. However, it was not until working closely with six women of the Namatala slum in Uganda that they fully understood the impact that small enterprises run by women can have on the success of a family and community.

Created by six female artisans in the Namatala slum of Mbale, Uganda, the purchase of every necklace goes directly to helping these women start their own small businesses in a variety of fields with seed capital. The ultimate goal is to empower them to stand alone as small business owners, translating to sustainable growth and self-sufficiency enabling them to provide for their families.

The Martha NecklaceThis week we’re featuring one of our favorite new products, the Martha Necklace, and the purchase of each one goes toward a microfinance loan which will enable Martha to pursue her dream of developing a cassava flour business.

“Martha’s employment at Mbale Regional Hospital came to an abrupt end this past October. Suddenly she was faced with the responsibility of not only caring for her family without a husband, but now without a job. For many women, this situation would seem hopeless, devastating even. Martha, however, is using it as an opportunity for personal improvement. The loss of her labor intensive job served as a kick start for her dream of developing a cassava flour business. Cassava is a root vegetable that is very common in Uganda; the flour from Cassava is a staple in most homes.

Martha has a five-year plan for her business which includes providing her community with the highest grade of cassava flour available, and ultimately increasing her revenue as her business grows. Martha is currently enrolled in business classes through a partnership with 1000 Shillings and Child of Hope, a nonprofit and junior school in the Namatala slum. She is starting her business under the four guiding principles taught in the class. She follows these to keep her company honest, efficient, and profitable.

  1. Have, Make or Do something that people want so much that they are happy to pay for it.
  2. Do it well enough and often enough that people choose to come to you to buy rather than someone else.
  3. Make a profit.
  4. Save and take care of her family with her earned profit.

Martha has big dreams! After five years in the cassava flour business, Martha hopes to open her own market store, increase product quantity and production by securing a steady client base, and possibly sell other products like mill grain, livestock, and produce. She hopes to have saved enough money in five years to build a house and move out of the slum.

The Martha NecklaceMartha’s childhood dream of being a nurse stemmed from her passion for helping others, making a difference in the community, and providing quality and trustworthy service. Her chosen career path may have changed, but her heart, mind, and overall goals are still the same. With her cassava flour business, Martha will be able to support her seven children, therefore ensuring their future endeavors and career goals. She will be able to bring quality food and nutrition to her community, creating a more stable village for all of the Namatala Slum inhabitants. Most importantly, Martha will become self-sufficient and will have a career that she is proud of and enjoys doing, one that doesn’t feel like work.”