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Uganda, Africa

UGA05 - Jehovah Jireh Mbale widows loan programme

Partnership Ref.:



Anna Ocen



Funding Status:

Partially Funded

Partnership Type:

Micro-enterprise / Micro-loans

Funding Size:

$3,000 - $7,999

Annual Budget:

US$ 6,050

Connected To:



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Funding Contact:

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Population: 45 million

Life Expectancy: 63.7 years

GDP: US$979 per capita

Unemployed: 12%

20% earn less than US$2/day

Current Partnership Impact

90 families are being assisted

90 families are accessing microloans

Partnership Overview

hope for the futureAnna Ocen has been working with a group of widows and single mothers in Mbale where she lives. These women are not war victims, a number of them are HIV/AIDS widows. These women have set up a small loan programme but are needing additional funds to take their businesses to the next level.

History of Partnership

Anna Ocen has been in partnership with Bright Hope World since around 2007. Initially the partnership involved connecting with her and Hope Restoration Centre in Lira (UGA03a). This was a ministry that was involved in housing 28 children who had been captured by the Lord’s Resistance Army in 2003, and whose parents or guardians had been killed during the conflict. 

In 2010 Bright Hope World commenced assisting with this project involving a group of widows and single mothers, many of whom are HIV/AIDS positive as well, in Mbale which is a city in central Uganda and is Anna’s home. 

This loan programme initially started off receiving funds from a local Non-Government Organisation (NGO). However, when that organisation became more aligned with another faith practised in Uganda it became unwise to continue with them and Anna approached a commercial bank. This arrangement went well for a while and Anna is an extremely competent leader and has a background in finance but became unviable after she was brutally robbed in her home in October 2008. Because of the growing connection that Bright Hope World had with Anna already through the Lira partnership, she approached us. This project was born after a visit by BHW's Uganda partnership facilitator in September 2009. It was during that visit that Anna asked whether BHW might be able to support this micro-loan programme and its beneficiaries. 


growing businessThe women involved in the loan programme are the direct beneficiaries here but obviously there is a significant flow on effect as they are able to better provide for their families, send their children to school and have a positive impact in their community. As the loan programme funds increase, they will also be able to include other women in the programme.

Until 2022 all of the beneficiaries have been women but in mid-2022 the first two men joined the programme. Historically it has been quite difficult to get men to ‘buy-in‘ to microlending arrangements for a number of reasons so this is quite an exciting development, and both of these men are proving to be reliable.

As a general rule many of the loan recipients have very small subsistence businesses and need additional funding support to start to grow the business and make it more robust and sustainable. 

What We Like About The Partnership

generating incomeThe beauty of this programme is that it has supported a large number of women, but the “ripple on” effect on their families, children, and the local community has been significant. 

The beneficiaries of the programme are incredibly resilient, even during heartbreaking setbacks. Anna has a real gift in bringing a group of women together who maintain a cohesiveness and care for one another which is quite remarkable. 

The loan programme is now structured in such a way that there is emerging leadership and full responsibility for the programme does not fall entirely on Anna.  

The loan programme is open to women of all faiths and many of the beneficiaries, over time, are drawn to the Christian faith, and have found significant support and care within that framework.  We love the organic and non-coercive nature of that process.


Key People

Leadership Profile

We have been very saddened to hear that Anna died following surgical complications on 13 January 2024. We have been supporting Simon and the family and our prayers are with them. We will update this page shortly with changes to the leadership in the partnership. 

great ladies

Anna Ocen (left) is the key person for us in this partnership. Anna is married to Simon, and they have adult children. They live in Mbale but Anna travels to Lira once or twice month to visit the children at Hope Restoration Centre. She is an accountant so is able to keep good records.

Other People Involved

Sarah Muzaki (right) is a single mother, who is an enterprising businesswoman and farmer, and someone who provides mentoring and care to the second group of loan beneficiaries on the far side of the city. She is faithful and reliable.

Sarah has a number of businesses including buying second hand clothes and on selling them and purchasing and then on selling beans to make a profit. She also grows some of her own maize and sells this in the community and to local schools. 


Vision And Annual Strategy

The vision here is for these ladies to continue to grow their loan programme, establish their businesses and help other women, thereby lifting them out of their life of poverty.


Personal Testimony

keen farmerNorah

Norah (left) is one of Sarah’s (right) protegees in Eastern Mbale, about 5 km from where Anna lives (Norah is on the left and Sarah Muzaki on the right). She has a first loan of 300,000 UGX (US$90) which is helping her with the inputs to enable her to farm her land. She has two children and a husband who also helps with the land preparation. Norah is clearly interested in Foundations for Farming and works extremely hard on her land, growing tomatoes, maize, rice and sweet potatoes. She is passionate about farming and a great candidate for Foundations for Farming training.  

Elisha of Kuzukira Snacks 

Elisha is the first male loan beneficiary. Anna had been a customer of his when he was starting out and one day said to him something like “One day one of your customers will become your angel”.  Elisha says Anna had become that angel to him. 

Elisha had a very troubled background. He had been growing rice on someone’s land, but his rice crop failed and he lost 7m UGX (about US$2,000 - a huge amount of money). After that he relocated to Mbale with his family and obtained very basic employment in the Bugere market on the outskirts of the city. He lost that job because the employer mistreated him and fired him. In this job he was being paid 3000 UGX a day (US$1) and still had a family to support. His wife is a teacher, but teachers don’t always get paid and can go months without their salaries.

first male beneficiarySubsequently he moved to this market and started a business making foodstuffs in 2021. He makes chapatis and samosas etc. This business has grown hugely and there are now 17 young people in full-time employment in the business. In addition, he provides financial support for a number of infirm or crippled people. The young people that he employs were street people, and vulnerable or troubled people. 

When he started this business, he was located in the centre of Mbale, near the bus park. Unfortunately, two of his first trainees ganged up against him and he was chased out of that market. He subsequently relocated to his current location and business is thriving.

Kuzukira means “resurrection”. He feels that his life has been resurrected and is for service to other people. He sells his chapatis, and other foodstuffs that they produce, not just in the marketplace but to local schools, hospitals, police, and the university. Many of the young people are his “salesmen” and out travelling around.

He is highly enthusiastic about mentoring young people and he has a great relationship with them. Maureen Johnson was his first employee. She is a young mother and describes a very challenging background during which she suffered both mental illness and demonic activity such that she lost her memory. She has now regained her memory, is very articulate, works for Elisha, and is also active in a local church.

One of the other young people had been rejected by his family and tried to hang himself. He is now actively employed, earning money, and clearly enthusiastic about what he does. These are wonderful stories of restoration and new beginnings.