A Bold Step Towards a Better Future

Tuesday, February 11, 2020
A loan to Phyllis Chelengat planted the seed for a brighter future

With an education that abruptly ended when she was 15, and with no prospects for long-term employment beyond providing intermittent casual labor on other people’s farms, 27-year-old Phyllis Chelagant from Kween District in eastern Uganda was barely able to provide the basics for herself and her three children aged nine, seven, and four. The money she made from working as a casual laborer was not enough, leaving Phyllis to rely on others for sustenance. The turning point in her life came after a conversation with Victor Saikwa, a 25-year-old farmer who doubles as a youth agent with Sebei Farmers’ Savings and Cooperative Organization (SACCO). 

Sebei SACCO was founded to empower rural communities in Sebei sub-region through micro and commercial loans to farmers. In 2017, the SACCO partnered with USAID’s Feed the Future Uganda Youth Leadership for Agriculture Activity to increase agricultural economic opportunities for 1,500 youth through sunflower and soybean production.

Access to finance is key to boosting youth participation in agriculture and this was what Victor pointed out to Phyllis, encouraging her to become a member, start saving in order to access loans in future. Phyllis joined and started saving with the SACCO. After a while she was able to access some credit from the SACCO.

“Before [joining] Sebei Farmers’ SACCO, I had no money, I could not even educate my children… I could not even dress them,” she says.

“I used to hire myself out to work on other people’s farmlands to make a living for me and my children until two years back when I joined Sebei SACCO.  After Victor told me about the benefits of joining and being a member of the SACCO, without hesitation, I joined that day.”

Through Sebei SACCO, Phyllis accessed quality hybrid sunflower seed, worth $27, on credit. She rented two acres of land and planted hybrid seed on one acre and local seed on the other. She harvested 700 kg from the hybrid seed, which she sold at $0.32 per kg and 500 kg of the local variety, which she sold at $0.18 per kg, for a total of $314, a remarkable return on her investment.

From her earnings, Phyllis has been able to buy clothes for her children and, more importantly, has enrolled them in a private school. She has used the money to continue renting the same piece of land for the next planting season and has bought five goats as an additional source of income. 

A casual conversation with Victor Saikwa has made a world of a difference in the lives of PhylIis and her children. The past two years of Phyllis’ membership with Sebei Farmers’ SACCO has increased her participation in agriculture as a female youth farmer and has financially uplifted her family.

Last updated: February 12, 2020

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