Nestled in Ntinda, Nakawa Division, one of the five administrative divisions of Kampala, we touched base with Hadija Nankanja with members of Women on The Shelf Project. Hadijah is a 2014 Akili Dada Fellow and the founder and director of Community Women’s Enterprise Network, a nonprofit organization with a mission to build the entrepreneurial capacity of women to overcome economic and social barriers to achieve self-sufficiency. Hadijah has a visible passion for women and entrepreneurship, and envisions a world of economically empowered women with ethical business practices.
Her belief and vision to have women in the mainstream economy, resulting in healthier, educated children and strong communities came to life during our visit. Her daily mantra of passion, clarity and focus has rubbed off on her beneficiaries, a group of women brought together by common goals, to showcase their businesses, learn from each other and network. The concept is quite simple but making such a great impact to the small women business community in the region and indeed promising to spark a revolution.
Hadija spoke passionately and excitedly as she gave a brief on the reason we came together. We met Ms. Joselyn Asio owner and proprietor of JJB’s Mushroom Beverage, a lady who started off as a mushroom farmer, but who had a bigger dream selling a value added product. She has now created a spice from her mushrooms, with numerous nutritional and health benefits, and that is now retailing in small scale supermarkets in Ntinda and Kampala. Through Women on the Shelf, Joselyn has learnt how to brand and market her product, elevating her business growth in just 3 months.
We then met a young lady, Sumaiya, who exhibited a confidence and boldness that is rare and inspiring in today’s world. In her 2nd year at college, Sumaiya is the owner and proprietor of ‘Sumaiya long skirts’. Her vision is to see a world where young (Ugandan) women feel confident and beautiful in anything they put on, including her flagship product ... the long skirt. She indeed has started a movement in her school, where her friends and colleagues are adopting her dress code and more importantly a positive attitude of self confidence.
Finally we met the KK group, a rural women's community group who are making fireless cookers. Through Women on The Shelf, these women were not only able to access training to help build their business – fireless cookers. They have also managed to access platforms to further sell their products and even innovate, adding to their range of products including baby bottle warmers.
We at Akili Dada are proud to have Hadija Nankanja as a 2014 Akili Dada Fellow and are proud of the great work she is doing.