Uganda, Africa

UGA07 - Rukungiri income generation programme: Partnership Reports

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Report Date: June 28, 2023

Update from BHW Uganda Partnership Facilitator

Because we were not able to visit the Rukungiri district during our visit in October and November 2022 we have had to rely on the meeting that we had with Reuben and Justus in Jinja prior to and during the conference that we hosted to obtain details for this report. 

Recent Events

Foundations for Farming

On the positive side, it is very clear that there has been a really good uptake of Foundations for Farming that is continuing on very well in that area and has spread to a number of people.  We have previously reported on the Foundations for Farming activities of Everest, Elias, Christopher and Hilder. In addition, there are many other people who have continued on and are also training other people. 

They have a vision for continuing the training, with Reuben requesting a new projector which would cost about UGX 2,000,00 (US$700).  At this stage I have not yet proposed we fund this because there have been some other issues that seemed to be quite relevant to this partnership, and we perhaps require a greater degree of transparency from Justus and Reuben before considering this request. 

Reuben did report that one of the people that had been trained in Foundations for Farming, and who lived in the area between Rukungiri and Kabale to the south, was continuing to teach other people and had also planted three churches in the local areas which was very encouraging. I am planning on visiting Rukungiri early in 2024 and would hope to meet him when I am there.  I am certainly planning to more fully review this partnership in 2024, even though this partnership no longer receives any financial input from BHW.


Chainsaw and Honey Businesses

Unfortunately, there have also been significant setbacks in this partnership.  I have reported in the EM Fund Report (UGA07b) about some of the difficulties that Reuben has encountered. Previously we have reported on his chainsaw business, and also on his honey business. Neither of these are working at present.  During the Covid lockdown, when all of the towns were closed and travel not permitted, Reuben was not able to be present on the site where his beehives and gardens were in the north of Uganda. He had left a worker on the site, but it is not clear exactly what happened.  All that has been reported is that, during the lockdown robbers came and stole the honey and burnt his hives so that there was nothing left at all. 

In addition, he had started his chainsaw business again, but the police confiscated his two chainsaws, even though he was working on private land. This was effectively theft and a colleague of his had four chainsaws impounded at gunpoint by the police. From what we can gather all that happens is that the police impound the chainsaws, sell them and profit from the sale proceeds.  The responsible police officer has been transferred out of the area but not brought to justice.

All of this must be incredibly disheartening for them, but I did not detect that there was any motivation from Reuben to either rebuild more new hives, even though he did have some timber for it and start a new business again, or to seek ways to start the chainsaw business again. As Bright Hope World has previously funded two chainsaws for Reuben, the motivation for doing so again is very limited, particularly as it has taken some considerable effort to get Reuben to acknowledge that the funds were intended as loans, to be repaid to the EM fund. I will not be able to verify whether this has happened until I visit next year. This is part of the reason that I have been reluctant to support the provision of a projector although am thinking that this needs to be revisited as the reports on Foundations for Farming have always been positive and we have physically seen the benefits and uptake in this area of Uganda.


Milk Cooler

There have also been considerable conversations with Justus regarding the milk cooler, the funding for which was provided as a loan by BHW. This has been reported on in some detail in the EM fund report as well. In short, income from the milk cooler has been utilised to assist in developing a grinding mill, and Bright Hope World was asked to contribute towards a hulling machine. We have done this, and the grinding mill and cooler are operating profitably. 

The milk cooler is continuing to operate and provide some income towards the school although I cannot ascertain exactly how much. Justus has confirmed that he has commenced repayment of the loans for both the hulling machine and the milk cooler and has provided a payment schedule until 2024. Again, I will not be able to verify the status of those repayments until I visit in early 2024. 

We are heartened by the fact that Justus is an extremely good entrepreneur, presently involved in a large-scale farming project in the north of Uganda, and also developing a secondary school in Rukungiri. Even though BHW is not involved with either of these, it does point to the calibre of Justus as an entrepreneur. We are working with him to ensure that there is suitable transparency and understanding of his activities before we would consider further support for business endeavours in either Mbarara or Rukungiri, as we would want to know that the profits from those businesses are fully being used to support the ministry. We understand that they are and there has always been an expectation that some of the profits would be utilised by both Reuben and Justus for support for the family, particularly as Reuben in particular is involved in a lot of evangelism.


Plans for the Future

Going forward I would see our support for income generation in and around the Rukungiri district being particularly focused around Foundations for Farming and how we can encourage small scale farmers both to succeed on their own land, and possibly cooperate together to improve outcomes and livelihoods.  I do not think we should be supporting other types of business endeavours at this stage.