Filed under: Project Updates | Tags: africa, co-op, Fort Portal, media, microfinance, participatory, social enterprise, uganda, villages connected
Time flies when business ideas take off.
Or at least that is what has consumed the last few weeks.
Each of the co-op members had been tasked with a video or photo essay assignment as part of their training: to document a business idea that could be funded by the co-op through its microfinance fund. The members were to use their new interview skills, learn about the business and use the media they create as a sort of visual loan application.
By the time the group convened, there were 17 businesses proposed for Villages Connected loans, and many more in the works.
Like everything we’ve done here, the process of evaluation was developed by our co-op members. It was simple and flexible, yet structured.
First, each of the media co-op members presented their video or photo essay to the group. Then the group members, acting as first evaluators of the loan application, asked the presenters some truly tough questions. They wanted to be sure that the business ideas were viable and, therefore, that their microfinance fund would be well used.
From there, the group voted for their 3 choices for the first round – the businesses they thought would be good candidates for the microloans. This brought the number down to 13 applications.
A core group of members attended an additional training session to learn more about how to do business assessments and how to make preliminary financial analysis of the businesses. Armed with an extensive questionnaire, members worked in pairs, visiting the business owners, and took charge of the assessment process. In the end, they were able to figure out that some of the application, while very interesting, were not good candidates for the first round of lending. Others, they decided, would make excellent clients.
The biggest difficulty? The size of the microloan fund.
The original plan, and what we at Villages Connected had aimed for, was to provide loans to 10 businesses as a starting point. The 10 would demonstrate just how powerful combining media and microfinance could be. However, our fundraising efforts fell short of what was needed. So only 4 businesses will be able to gain access to the microfinance fund in round 1.
The group will decide which four start things rolling.
Once they do, these four businesses will not only have passionate Villages Connected media co-operative members running them. They will also have the support of their equally dynamic fellow media co-op members. Together they will help the businesses take flight and monitor its progress using the cameras in their hands.
Filed under: Project Updates | Tags: africa, co-op, Fort Portal, opportunity, participatory, participatory video, photovoice, poverty, social enterprise, uganda, villages connected
The melodic voices of dozens of girls accompanied the morning start of the first Saturday workshop facilitated by the Villages Connected team. The hymns sung in the background by the girls of St Maria Goretti Senior Secondary School welcomed the 20 media co-op members, their voices caressing and urging each person to feel at ease and to share.
Their video and still cameras had come back a couple days earlier and now they eagerly awaited their chance to talk about the results of the first media assignment they had been given. Half the group had taken photos or videos that demonstrated a particular community issue or solution that they found important. The other half had captured on camera something they felt truly represented the strength of the communities in and around Fort Portal.
Co-op members started the day by writing descriptions for some of their pictures and videos. These would serve as roadmaps for what they intended when filming, ensuring their meaning would be attached to any photograph shared with audiences outside the room.
However, as we all know, many audiences simply cannot sit through slideshows and film screenings lasting hours and hours. Therefore, each person was tasked with selecting just one shot or video clip that captured the issue they felt the group and community needed to hear about. They had to choose from hundreds of photos and videos they had shot.
Not an easy task.
This challenging editing endeavour meant that when co-op members gathered in a tight semi-circle in our classroom venue they were itching to share what they had produced!
You’ve met ten of the media co-op members here in Fort Portal.
You’ve heard ten of their stories.
Now see some of the photographs they took and read their explanations of why they took them.
Photo and Description by Stella
I took this photo from my village. Here I was trying to ask about the challenges faced by that village. I hear that the village is not developing. I asked why. You see here the woman is sitting with her children. I asked the problem. The people in the village do not want to work. That’s why you see her here it is morning time but a woman is siting she can’t go to the garden for work and the problem you can see is she does not have enough food for her children.
I tried to tell her the solution – she must work hard to get enough food for her children. As you can see in the other picture, she can try to dig as you see with this other woman. She’s digging, weeding the onions so that she can produce enough products to sustain her family.
This issue and solution is very important in the media co-op and even in the community because they can learn to work hard to have enough food and even to cater their children by giving them their needs. As people can learn how to generate their income. People can also avoid idleness by learning from them
Photo and Description by Lawrence
I took these pictures from different places but within my community.
I took picture 64 to show the problem of banana diseases faced by the people in my community so as to devise means of assisting them collectively.
I took picture 69 to show some of the solutions to the problem of banana diseases, ie., cutting the affected bananas down and after cutting them you can dispose of that land for other use. Planting trees, planting food crops, rearing animals and other stuff. This picture shows a variety of land use – this portion you put beans, there you put banana, in the same way you put avocado. Then at the end of it you find you have different foodstuffs for selling and for feeding well.
I took picture 75 to show some of the supporting or supportive NGOs that have advocated for the solutions towards community problems and challenges like giving hope through planting alternative crops other than banana and putting the land to alternative use.
I took picture 233 to bring out some of the improved banana plantations in the community and how people can benefit from such initiatives if they are established in their communities. Here there is this modern banana plantation – this one is a model plantation. You can cut all of them, clear the land and plant new ones and stretch them so that they do not spread [disease] to each other.
It is important to show that back there in the community there are challenges that the people there can’t solve by themselves. They need some technical personnel and some people who have some knowledge. There are some initiatives taken by non-governmental organizations to show them what they can do.
The solution & strength in the pictures are important for others to know – what has been done by other people and agencies towards solving community issues and challenges. They should also know how land can be used for different uses and the other media co-op members should find means of helping the affected communities while adding to those measures already taken.
Photo and Description by Best
In this picture I can see students sitting in a classroom reading their books. I took this picture in Senior 5 Arts class in St Maria Gorretti Girls School. I took this picture because I love reading books and being friends with my classmates. This picture is important for the media co-op to know because they can be attracted to this picture and tell people to bring their children at St Maria Gorreti Girls Secondary School.
Photo and Description by Annet
This picture shows an old lady with a piggery project and I took this picture from west-division in Fort Portal (Rwengomel). I took this picture because I was too much impressed by the old lady, aged 78 years of age, who still has strength to do some projects but on a small scale. And this is so important for the media co-operative to know about because people outside can understand that very many old ladies are capable of doing everything but the problem is that they don’t have enough capital and others lack information on the good methods of rearing these animals. And more to that, the old lady told me the reason why she selected this project was that one pig can produce many young ones at a time and this has market value.