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In 2016, when conflict broke out again in her country South Sudan, Josephine decided she had to escape. After a long journey she arrived at Bidibidi refugee settlement in Northern Uganda.
Her situation shortly after changed when Enabel, the Belgian development agency, came into the settlement. The organization helped Josephine to set up Manjoora Women’s group, of which she is the treasurer.
Noting the enormous demand for soap in and around the settlement, Josephine thought this could be a business opportunity.
However, she, like the rest of the members, lacked the skills which would enable them make soap. Luckily, Enabel was willing to train them in soap making. This indeed happened days later.
“The skills we have been provided with will help us sustain ourselves while at the settlement and when we return to South Sudan,” an excited Josephine says.
Starting a soap business
The group now plans to start a soap-making business that will serve their Bidibidi settlement. They also want to use this as a platform for providing financial support to other women outside of their group.
“After escaping South Sudan, my life is finally changing for the better. Working together with my women’s group to make soap, and being able to trade and sell at the market, gives us a great opportunity to learn new things and to secure some financial stability,” she says.
Josephine says the skills she gained from her training have had a transformative effect. Despite being victims of the South Sudan conflict, the group members have put their tragic tales aside to work and support each other in these difficult times.
Uganda hosts more refugees than any other country in Africa and, with its 270,000 inhabitants, Bidibidi settlement is the largest of its kind in the world.
The skills development and entrepreneurship initiative implemented by Enabel acts as a nexus between humanitarian response and development.
It focuses on addressing both the short and long-term needs of refugees and host communities by providing them with skills that they can use to get employment and transform their lives.
The project, being implemented as part of the bigger Support Programme for Refugee Settlements and Host Communities in Northern Uganda is funded under the European Union Trust Fund for Africa.