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What happens when the silver lining starts to fade away just as immediately as it appears? With the country still grappling with the COVID19 pandemic, Kasana Market Tailoring Group is one of the groups that was supported with tailoring equipment from National Association of Women’s Organizations in Uganda (NAWOU) in 2020 to assist boast their income. But since then, the group has expressed pressing challenges caused by the pandemic and actions taken by the government to curb its spread. The closure of schools for nearly two years has heavily impacted the group’s sales tremendously.

“NAWOU provided us with machines to enhance sales and grow our confidence to compete effectively within the market since we produce quality items but the pandemic disorganized all our intended plans,” Cate Nanyonga the group Chairperson stated. “If schools can be opened, our businesses will shine again and be up and running.”

Schools have been a major source of market for many enterprises like this and their closure has largely contributed to low incomes and poor business performance. Before the COVID 19 outbreak, the group income was over 3,000,000/= per month due to production of school uniforms and other social events attires. But as a result of the pandemic the group shared with Monica Nantume NAWOU Programmes Officer that they now earn 50,000/= per month which is also by chance.

The group received twelve (12) school orders to produce uniforms in January 2021 however production was halted due to the second lockdown and no compensation has been received so far from the schools on some of the items already done.

The group’s capital has vastly reduced from the shs. 4,000,000 injected into it at the beginning of the year to shs. 2,000,000 available capital due to increased household needs. The group has requested NAWOU to amplify women’s demands to government to re-open schools and other businesses that are still under lockdown.

Monica Nantume, Programme Officer with members of the group during a monitoring visit.

“The extent at which small and medium enterprises run by women are collapsing is shocking and inevitable. Majority of the women are bread winners of their families and business capital was largely spent on fulfilling basic needs for family survival and incurring expenses without meaningful business returns. Women in business are currently struggling to keep afloat and access capital to revamp crushed businesses as well as clearing debts associated with rent and loans that were earlier invested in poor performing businesses. It’s a pity that government has not fully played its part to curb the rising economic crisis affecting the standard of living. Government should rethink its strategies towards fighting COVID 19 and should pass waivers for all businesses to be re-opened under strict monitoring of application of SOPs for effective economic participation”. Monica Nantume, NAWOU Programme Officer.

Government needs to avail vaccines to all qualifying Ugandans and the lockdown be lifted to allow effective economic participation. Women also demand for more support with low interest loans as a COVID19 strategy to revamp stunted businesses.

“Women at Work: Economic Justice for all” project implemented in Luwero district within 13 sub-counties is supported by Forum for Women and Development (FOKUS) with the overall project goal being strengthened realization of women’s economic participation and other economic rights.

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