Ulumbi Naletwa was the first woman from Mng’anda village to join the World Encounter microloan program. In order to be in one of the lending circles, Ulumbi had to travel to Nkungi, which is more than 12 miles from Mng’anda. Ulumbi did not have a vehicle, so it was difficult for her to make the trip.
However, she was determined to succeed and understood the meetings were vital to her success. Throughout Ulumbi’s three-year loan cycle she had better attendance than some of the women living in Nkungi.
Ulumbi recalls one of those monthly meetings in particular, “there were several women from America visiting. I learned from these women the importance of putting my capital towards my businesses and only spending profits. I also learned the importance of having more than one business.”
Ulumbi put these lessons to work for her and thrived!
“With my first loan of 60,000 shillings I purchased land for a garden. In the garden, I grew cabbage and spinach and sold the vegetables at the market. I also began buying decorative baskets from Nkungi and selling them at our local markets. After all my hard work, I was able to use my profits to purchase new couches for our home,” Ulumbi said proudly.
Ulumbi put her second loan of 90,000 shillings towards commodity trading. She began buying and selling corn and sunflowers in small 20 liter containers for 4,000 shillings each. Once she had six of these 20 liter containers, she would bag them and sell the larger bags of corn and sunflowers for 40,000 shillings. Eventually, she sold enough bags to have profits of over 400,000 shillings. Ulumbi used these profits to purchase her first knitting machine.
Knitting is a skill Ulumbi learned from a woman in her neighborhood. With the knitting machine Ulumbi planned to make school uniforms. However, the machine she bought broke not too long after she purchased it. Ulumbi was determined though and knew this could be a profitable endeavor considering all the schools in the surrounding villages require uniforms. When she received her third loan of 150,000 shillings, Ulumbi used it along with other savings to buy her second knitting machine.
On Fridays and Saturdays, Ulumbi, loads up all her knitted goods and hauls them to the local markets in Mng’anda and Nkungi. Ulumbi used to ride a bicycle to these markets along with a huge burlap bag stuffed with sweaters, shirts, and pants. As you can imagine, this was tiring, difficult and made Ulumbi’s legs sore. Recently, she purchased a motorcycle, and life has become much easier! Now, her husband gives her rides back and forth to the markets on the motorcycle.
“Knitting continues to be my most profitable business. I’ve been able to purchase three cows for our farm, and recently I’ve purchased dinnerware for people to rent for special occasions,” explained Ulumbi.
At this point, Ulumbi is proud to have 1.5 million shillings in capital. Ulumbi’s next goal is to buy a plot of land in one of the larger villages, either Nkungi or Mkalama with the intention to build a house that she will eventually rent out.
Life prior to the first loan was challenging and Ulumbi says they had a low standard of living. Since World Encounter, Ulumbi and her family have prospered well, but her proudest accomplishment is that she has been able to send all seven of her children to school! Ulumbi is thankful for the World Encounter loans and continued support.