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Youth Empowers Women to Help Educate Girls

Monday, November 25th, 2013 by Raluca Besliu

Best Aiyorworth, a 21-year-old woman from Uganda, has won the 2013 Anzisha Grant Prize, worth $25,000 for the initiative she is leading: Girls’ Power Micro Lending Organization (GIPOMO). Through her business, Best aims to support girls in the Nebbi District of Northern Uganda by helping their mothers, through loans offered to start or improve their business.

Best Aiyorworth winning the 2013 Anzisha prize

Best Aiyorworth winning the 2013 Anzisha prize

Believing that empowering mothers directly translates into educating their daughters, the young Ugandan’s organization wants to ensure that the women in the region earn enough money to be able to support their girls with their school fees and school-related expenses and their basic needs, including proper food, clothing and health care. Thus far, Best has provided assistance to over 400 women.She was inspired to create the organization as a result of her personal experience and her belief that the Ugandan traditional education system is overlooking many girls. As an orphan raised by her four older siblings, Best almost found herself at one point in her life unable to pay school fees and finish secondary school, a perspective which terrified her. Even though she was able to complete her secondary education, she never forgot her experience and that of some of her classmates, who had to drop out of school, because their parents were not able to pay their school fees and other basic expenses.

After finishing her secondary education, she moved to Kampala, where she pursued a one-year catering course, while also joining Kampabits, an IT vocation, to obtain a certificate in graphics and web design.

It was while studying there that she decided she wanted to create an organization to empower women and girls. So, in January 2011, she started GIPOMO with her own savings’ money gained as a chef at a vocational training institute. She immediately started providing loans to 10 women in a sub-county of the Nebbi district.

She soon found a local partner to lend money to the women, thus preventing her for experiencing financial lose in case they were unable to pay back on time. After investing more of her savings in the organization, she started lending with a 10 percent interest rate, which helped her initiative substantially grow from 10 to 100 women.

Her work has made a real impact on the lives of many local women. GIPOMO’s website currently displays the story of Ajula Sophia, a mother of two daughters who had to drop out of school, because she couldn’t provide for them. She decided to take action. She obtained a loan from GIPOMO and invested in creating a small business selling second hand clothes. Her income sharply increased and now she is able to provide all that the girls need to attend school.

In order to pursue her organization’s goals, Best has started a partnership with AfriPads Ltd, a business that creates and distributes reusable sanitary tools to girls in rural areas.

Best has very ambitious short and long-term ambitions for her organization. She hopes to lend to women across the entire northern Uganda within one year and the whole country within five years. She also wants to empower women to gain farming skills and partner with more organizations to expand the women’s empowerment scheme.

The Anzisha prize will help the young Ugandan achieve some of her goals. In winning the prize, Best was selected from nearly 400 young people in 32 countries. Second prize went to a fellow Ugandan, Titus Mawano, while Tanzania’s Domitila Silayo took the third prize. GIPOMO also won the Uganda Business Challenge Award earlier this year, after being selected out of 50 initiatives.

When advising other young entrepreneurs to follow in her footsteps, the young Ugandan stresses that it they should use their experiences and opportunities optimally.

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