New development impact bond brings in big donors, provides biggest test of model to date
The small shop where Charles Gwokajja sells cooking oil, soaps, tea, and sweet treats sits an hour from the main road, down a muddy pothole-filled lane lined with maize fields. At this time last year, he was a subsistence farmer, struggling to cover basic family expenses. Now he and his store’s two co-owners have enough income to buy medicine when someone is sick, and even to save money.
The shop began in his home, but with a $100 grant to him and two women in his community, the trio graduated to a storefront in a more central location in the community. Despite ups and downs in prices and sales, the business is growing and profitable, bringing in about 15,000 Ugandan shillings surplus (about $4.17) a week.
“It has helped us in emergencies, like when one of us falls sick, we can take some of the money and go to the hospital, or get medication,” Gwokajja said through a translator. “Another benefit is that it has increased our savings, when we have a good profit we take it and divide it, the three of us, and take it as savings.”
Gwokajja’s story is one of several thousand supported through Village Enterprise, a nongovernmental organization working to eliminate poverty in sub-Saharan Africa through entrepreneurship and innovation. The organization’s network of entrepreneurs is set to grow significantly through a new development impact bond that is trailblazing many firsts — the first in the world to focus specifically on poverty alleviation, the first in sub-Saharan Africa, and the first to bring on major donors, including the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.K. Department for International Development.
Photo courtesy of Adam Rozanas.