MAPLE Microdevelopment first established operations in Northern Uganda in 2008
The founders of MAPLE chose to start in Northern Uganda at that time because the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) had been defeated and had fled to the Congo and Sudan. Peace had been restored. After living for nearly 20 years in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps, civilians were returning to reestablish their livelihoods on their ancestral lands. Providing support for sustainable community development was and is of paramount importance for maintaining the peace in post-conflict regions.
Today, MAPLE Microdevelopment Uganda operates two branch offices, one in Lira, Northern Uganda, and the other in Mbale, Eastern Uganda. We currently serve over 60 village based savings groups in hard to reach rural areas, including over 2000 members.
Community managed savings groups are indigenous to sub-Saharan Africa and to Uganda. When MAPLE arrived in Uganda, it became clear through community dialogues that people wanted us to help them strengthen their own approaches to community banking. They asked us for education, not money, so they could generate more income, grow their self-managed funds, start new businesses, reach larger markets, and keep their children in school. Over time, as groups became stronger, many invited MAPLE to help them design linkages, through a membership-based model, to create additional funding for larger income generating projects.
By working closely with community members, MAPLE also realized the importance of developing programs for youth to break the cycle of poverty. An astonishing 50% of the 36 million people who live in Uganda are 15 years of age or younger. Therefore, MAPLE established a second program, the ROSE program (Reaching Out to Spread Equality) to empower youth. Eventually, teenage girls in the ROSE program began to start their own savings groups and income generating activities. In 2013, MAPLE Uganda started a youth sports program serving 7-11 year-old children designed to keep kids in school. Through cooperation with Peace Corps volunteers, this program now includes workshops focused on health, hygiene, and nutrition.
Beyond providing business development services to savings groups and life skills education to youth, MAPLE Uganda also takes on particular projects related to its mission in cooperation with external partners.
What we've accomplished
- Developed a tilapia and catfish cage farming project to increase the availability of protein and to generate income for savings groups.
- Developed an irrigation system enabling a village to grow rice even in the dry season.
- Established a sewing machine project managed by teenage girls in four different villages to produce sanitary pads, clothing, and accessories.
- Introduced an HIV awareness and reproductive health program for teenagers.
- Designed a "last mile" solar lighting project with members of savings groups as distributors in rural areas lacking electricity.
- Started to associate savings groups into a larger cooperative in order to improve access to agricultural inputs, to markets, and to a revolving loan fund managed by groups themselves.
- Partnered with TERREWODE to help women suffering from obstetric fistula start their own goat's milk soap enterprise called Soap by Fistula Survivors.