GTL Project overwhelmingly supported by Local Leaders and Parents in Masaka

Local leaders and parents too have praised GTL project for its enormous benefits to vulnerable AGYW in Masaka. For example;

  • The chairman Local Council 1 of Bwami (Buwunga subcounty) always closely followed and attended GTL; he was impressed by what he saw including the togetherness and team work exhibited by girls during project activities. He went ahead to offer his home compound as a training venue for club 4A and 4B and quite often the groups utilised his house as shelter whenever it rained.
  • The Local Council 1 Defence member for Kayugi (Mukungwe subcounty) commended the discipline shown by the girls ever since they joined the project. He confessed that within his area, cases of misconduct and indecency involving girls especially those in the project had all of a sudden disappeared. He was full of praises and gratefulness for PEDN and GTL funders for impacting on the behaviours of girls which had reduced the risk of getting wasted away and indulging with men.
  • The parent of Miracle Grace (club 1B in Ssunga) confessed about the improvement in the way she relates with her daughter. Her daughter’s behaviours have changed and she take more responsibility unlike before she joined the project.
  • The parents and local leaders appreciated that the girls are now saving some money and they have bigger dreams of starting up their own businesses and some girls have already started up small businesses for a low as 10,000/= to 20,000/= which they used to think could not do anything.

The parents and local leaders at the landing sites of Bukakata and Ddimo noted that the girls had reduced moving aimlessly, they had purpose, and had started small businesses like making and selling toasted bread, selling deep fried fish and making fruit salads. Toasted bread and fruit salad were new ventures in the community which meant that they could fetch some money for the girls.

How GTL ASRHR sessions saved Grace’s life

Nambatya Grace is a 21-year-old AGYW from Kyamuyimbwa in Kabonera Sub County (Masaka district). After getting financial education training by PEDN under the GTL project, she saved and started a small business of selling plantains (commonly known as bananas or Matooke); as well as making and selling scarves. She never had any idea of starting up any business of her own before exposure to GTL project. Training in business entrepreneurship propelled her to try to be creative and earn money, instead of asking it from men which is a sure way for catching HIV/AIDS.  

Sample of scarves Grace makes and sells to people in Masaka

Grace also appreciates the project for opening her eyes about the dangers of engaging in transactional sex. She narrates;

“Before the project, my life would entirely depend on gifts from men in exchange for sex. But when GTL came and they brought us here medical people to talk to us about Adolescent Sexual Reproductive health and how we can keep ourselves safe, I realized that I was putting myself at risk of getting the disease any time. After the session, I became restless, went to the nearest health center to do a HIV test and although it turned out to be negative, I was still not contented and a week alter I did another test to confirm. I have since promised myself to never ever be reckless with my life again.”

Grace at her Banana (Plantain) Stall. she started this business with UGx 30,000

Grace has become a role model to the rest of girls in the area who were like her. She has inspired many to start up small businesses to earn income to look after themselves instead of engaging in transactional sex.

Girls Take Lead awakened Specioza Leadership Ambitions

Namyalo Specioza is a 19-year-old AGYW from Kyasuma village in Buwunga Sub County (Masaka district). She is the club President of GTL club no. 25A, which sits in Kitengesa Village at Kitengesa Church of Uganda. Specioza’s story gives a ray of hope to other Adolescent Girls and Young Women in the region.

Specioza carrying her baby on the back

 She got pregnant while in school and as a result she dropped out; and to make matters worse, the father of her child denied responsibility and abandoned her. After joining GTL project, she made up her mind to regain her confidence to be positive in life. After undergoing the project training session on “Taking on leadership roles in the community” she decided to awaken her leadership dream. She had all along longed to be a community change maker through taking on leadership roles. 

Specioza sharing with her colleagues (club 25A) her views on leadership during a session on Taking leadership roles in the community

On this journey, she first aspired to become the president of the GTL club 25A, which she achieved, then recently stood for the position of Youth Secretary in her village (Kyasuma) under the National Resistance Movement (NRM) party ticket and she won. Specioza attributed all the success, resilience and confidence to lead other youth in her area to Girls Take Lead project which challenged her to follow her dream until it’s achieved.

Girls take Lead project helped in unlocking my exceptional skills in entrepreneurship.

Namugga Dorothy is a 19-year-old GTL AGYW in group 4A in Bwami –Bukakata Sub County. When she joined GTL, she never had an idea of how to make her life better.
However, after completing a session on “Who I am” and “What I want to Be” as well as “Saving and Budgeting” in the GTL curriculum, she realized her potential. She started saving some money even at home and managed to get Ugx10,000 as capital to start a restaurant business (selling tea and cooking food for revellers) in the village.

In one month, she was able to buy the needed restaurant utensils [twelve (12) plates, 12 cups, one (1) bucket, one (1) sauce pan and one (1) jug]. Proceeds from the small restaurant have been used to meet some of her personal needs, and has also managed to save Ugx 28,000 with a village saving group and Ugx 6,000 with the PEDN/GTL savings group. Dorothy is one of the 500 AGYW supported by PEDN and Aidsfonds in Masaka to uplift their lives through instilling an entrepreneurial mindset in them to be able to afford basic needs and avoid indulging in transactional sex.

GTL Project Coordinator talking to Namugga Dorothy as she shared her restaurant success in Bwami (Bukakata Sub County, Masaka)


Everyone you talk to at Mother Care Primary School (Ntungamo district) tells you that there is a significant change in the school’s sanitation and hygiene outlook, brought about by the 125 EGE club. Project club members identified untidy school environs as a challenge that needed action and quickly decided to carry out general cleaning every Saturday as their social enterprise. Working together has fostered teamwork; active citizenship increased a sense of responsibility and created a conducive learning environment. 

The club patron, Mr. Abel Kyarikunda had this to say:

“Thanks to the project, learners are now acting as an example to even some of us. They saw a problem, sat down in their group and came up with a solution that they are implementing. It has totally changed the face of our school”

Using rakes, dustbins, brooms, mopping buckets, scrubbing brushes driers etc. Club members clean the schools school dormitories, offices, classes and the surrounding. The social activity has

Big Agripreneurship Ambitions for Green Stars Primary School EGE Club Members

Last year when EGE project was introduced in the school, after a session on ‘Planning and Budgeting’ 100 club project members (Learners) sat down and decided to start a poultry farm with an aim of selling chicken and eggs to the school and the Rugaaga community in Isingiro district to improve diet but also make profits out of the business for their education and personal needs. Four (4) members offered to bring local breed chicken from their families to start up with and the club also lobbied the director of the school for a secure space.

The school owner obliged and also donated a temporary poultry house. A neighbor of the school who got wind of the project also donated two more chicken to the club. Since last year, the number has accumulated and multiplied to 16 chicken.

Using their savings, club members bought feeding troughs and often buy feeds from a government feeds facility nearby (NAADS). Club members also collect food leftovers from the school and families around the school to supplement feeds bought.

Using the planning and budgeting skills acquired during EGE financial Literacy training, members are able to budget for their poultry farm needs and plan how to obtain them, for example, feeds rations, drugs, etc. Their goal is to make it a model youth project in the area as it grows bigger.

Working on the together has fostered teams work, critical thinking, improved their confidence to share their ideas and also increased self-control.

Smoothing the Cost of Education: Primary School Saving in Uganda

Smoothing the Cost of Education: Primary School Saving in Uganda

Even when there are no official school fees, the financial burden of purchasing uniforms, books, and other school supplies prevents low-income students from remaining in school. In Uganda, researchers tested whether a school-based savings program improved academic performance and reduced dropout rates by enabling students and their families to save for school-related expenses.
A version of the program that labeled savings for educational purposes, rather than fully committing money to educational expenses, increased the amount students saved, expenditures on educational supplies, and test scores.

Policy Issue
 Although many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa have close to universal primary school enrollment, many students drop out before completing primary school or fail to continue to secondary school. While children drop out for a number of reasons, financial concerns are often an important factor.

Even when governments eliminate school fees, there are still many costs associated with attending school. Providing basic school supplies such as uniforms, pens, pencils, and workbooks is often a significant challenge for low-income families. Furthermore, these families may lack access to formal savings services, making it difficult to set aside money for education. Even when families do have some savings, there is no guarantee they will use the money for educational expenditures. This evaluation assesses the impact of a school-based savings program that aims to encourage students and their parents to save for educational expenses.

Context of the Evaluation 
Uganda’s primary school enrollment rates have greatly increased since the government began providing free universal primary education. Retaining pupils, however, is more difficult and as few as 32 percent of children entering primary school complete all seven grades. While the government covers the cost of teachers and schools, many Ugandan primary schools require uniforms, and families are responsible for providing school supplies such as stationary and workbooks. The financial strain of buying these supplies is often too high for the family to sustain, and is cited as a major reason for children dropping out of school.

Details of the Intervention
 Researchers partnered with the Private Education Development Network (PEDN) and FINCA Uganda to implement and test the “Super Savers” program in public primary schools. Children in grades five through seven, the final three years of primary school, were given the opportunity to deposit money into lockboxes on a daily or weekly basis. The money was deposited into the school’s bank account at the end of each trimester. The bank accounts did not earn interest. At the beginning of the next trimester, bank representatives returned to the school to disburse the funds. On the day the funds were paid out, PEDN organized a small market at each school where students could purchase school supplies or school services such as practice exams or tutoring sessions. 

Schools were randomly assigned to have students’ savings returned in one of two ways:

  • Voucher payout: students received their savings in the form of a voucher that could only be used to buy supplies or school services at the market set up at the school. This created a binding commitment to spend savings on educational expenditures.
  • Cash payout: students received their savings in cash, which meant they could spend the funds either at the market set up at the school or however else they chose. 

Students were notified of the kind of payout they would receive at the beginning of the program. There were 39 schools in each group, and an additional 58 schools served as a comparison group  received no savings account. 
Half of the schools in each payout group were also randomly assigned to receive parent outreach, in which workers from PEDN hosted a workshop for sixth- and seventh-grade parents to describe the various ways they could support their children’s education and to promote the savings program as a tool to help families finance school expenditures.

Results and Policy Lessons
Researchers found that students deposited significantly more when their savings were returned in cash, rather than vouchers. On average, students in schools that received cash payouts deposited between 2,200 and 2,340 Ugandan shillings, while the average student who received voucher payouts deposited between 1,120 and 1,180 shillings. 
The purpose of the voucher payouts was to commit students to spend their savings on educational expenses. Cash payouts, on the other hand, imposed no restrictions on the use of savings, but did provide a weak commitment to spend savings on educational expenses by basing the savings program in schools and timing payouts to correspond with markets for school supplies.
This weaker commitment may have appealed to students who value flexibility on how to spend their savings, while the voucher treatment’s stronger commitment may have discouraged them from saving. When combined with parent outreach, students who received cash payouts were significantly more likely to have a complete set of school supplies. They also had test scores that were 0.11 standard deviations higher than the comparison group.
There were no significant positive effects on school supplies or test scores among students who received cash payouts without parent outreach or among students who received vouchers, with or without parent outreach. These results suggest that combining cash payouts from savings accounts with parental outreach can lead households to spend savings on education and improve student learning.

To read more

How Can Children and Youth Become Financially Capable Adults?

Uganda has one of the highest primary school drop-out rates in the world. Though the country abolished most primary school fees in 1997, a recent UNICEF report found that 81% of parents cited financial constraints as the reason why their children dropped out of school. In a new op-ed in Uganda’s Daily Monitor, Oliver Schmidt points out: 

Many Ugandans say education takes the number one spot in their expenses…Our qualitative fieldwork revealed that a large proportion of microfinance loans are used to pay for education, even if those loans are by name for business or agriculture. 

Schmidt goes on to summarize the promising impacts of a pilot program through which primary school children were offered school-based savings accounts to help them save for education-related expenditures. A rigorous evaluation conducted by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) in Uganda found that a savings account that nudged children to set money aside for school supplies successfully encouraged students to save more. When the account was offered in combination with a parent outreach program, students were more likely to invest their savings in school supplies, uniforms, and education services such as tutoring, and had higher test scores.  The promising impacts of this school-based savings program show that access to a simple savings account combined with a gentle nudge toward saving and responsible spending can be effective in improving the financial capability, and ultimately the welfare, of poor families in developing countries.

Accordingly, access to savings for youth has long been on the agendas of organizations from Aflatoun and Save the Children to UNCDF and Women’s World Banking. The importance of providing savings vehicles for young people – and building a business case for such vehicles – echoed throughout the agenda at this year’s Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit, where these organizations and a multitude of others championed the idea of providing well-designed savings accounts to promote youth financial capability. In a parallel – and possibly complementary – effort, governments and NGOs worldwide are focusing on programs that aim to develop youth financial capability through financial education.

The theory behind such programs is simple: by learning financial concepts from an early age, children will become financially capable adults who take optimal, welfare-enhancing financial decisions. An evaluation of a large-scale financial education program for Brazilian secondary-school students demonstrated that a well-designed curriculum can, in fact, significantly improve the financial knowledge and savings behavior of youth. So what is the best way to mold youth into financially capable adults? Should financial capability programs for youth combine education and savings tools, or is it enough to just offer savings? Another IPA study in Uganda is testing this question among 16- to 28-year-olds by comparing the impacts of a group savings product, a financial education program, and a combination of the two on the participants’ savings behavior.

After one year, participants reported similar increases in total savings and earned income regardless of whether they received a savings account, financial education, or both, suggesting that there may be no added benefit to offering education and savings tools in combination, at least in the short run. Unfortunately, this short-run evidence cannot provide a definitive answer on how best to turn youth into financially capable adults. We need longer-term results. This is why IPA, with support from the Citi Foundation, plans to conduct a long-term follow-up with the participants of this study next year. Gathering evidence on the impact of financial education and savings accounts on savings behavior nearly five years after the initial program was offered will give us important clues about whether impacts of financial capability programs can persist in the long term, and help us understand whether these strategies are best offered individually or in combination.

Our findings will be critical in helping to define the direction of youth financial capability policy and practice. You can learn more about IPA’s work evaluating financial capability-enhancing interventions for children and youth here. Beniamino Savonitto is an Initiative Director and Pooja Wagh is an Initiative Coordinator with IPA’s Global Financial Inclusion Initiative.

Studies: Smoothing the Cost of Education: Primary School Saving in UgandaStarting a Lifetime of Saving: Teaching the Practice of Saving to Ugandan Youth
People​:Pooja WaghBeniamino Savonitto
Country: Uganda
Program Area: EducationFinancial InclusionFinancial CapabilityFinancial Services for the Poor
Topics: Behavioral DesignCommitmentsFinancial CapabilityRural FinanceSavingsSchool AttendanceYouth
Partners: FINCA UgandaThe Private Education Development NetworkChurch of UgandaStraight Talk Foundation

Read more here

Financial literacy tips as you manage COVID-19 financial impact.

FINANCIAL LITERACY TIPS AS YOU MANAGE COVID-19 FINANCIAL IMPACT. It’s no longer a secret that we are facing a global pandemic which we expect to come with financial impact not only at the global level but straight into our homes and pockets during and after the pandemic.

Due to this PEDN will be running online financial literacy tips to guide you manage your personal and family finances during these hard times effective 1st April, 2020.

For any feedback or questions directly reach out to

Empowering under-resourced schools in Uganda with alumni support.

The Private Education Development Network (PEDN) runs programmes in low-cost private schools serving under-resourced communities in Uganda. inHive worked with PEDN to integrate alumni networks into primary and secondary schools in its Eastern and Central regions from early 2019 to 2020.

Our work included training staff in the inHive approach to network building, coaching them through the implementation phase and monthly strategy and planning discussions. The work was delivered as part of Opportunity International’s grant with the UK Government’s Girls’ Education Challenge Project. 

Joy Mukisa, Programs Director at PEDN, said in late 2019:

“I thank inHive for training me and PEDN’s team on Alumni network building in schools. I truly appreciate Jan’s support on the monthly strategy and planning discussions, which have strengthened alumni educational outreach in PEDN implementing schools” 

This short video from PEDN captures the impact of the alumni networks at their former schools.

Women Empowerment

Nandugwa is a 22 yr old member of our ‘Girls Take Lead’ project in Masaka district. After undergoing our training in financial education and social empowerment.

she has inspired 7 other AGYW in Buwunga sub-county to start a saving group dubbed “GTL savings group” with an aim of starting a small group enterprise whose proceeds will be used to meet their personal and financial needs, hence reducing their vulnerability to situations that expose them to catching HIV/AIDS

Girls Take Lead project is funded by Aidsfonds and implemented by #PEDN and International Community Of Women Living With HIV East Africa. Opportunity Bank Uganda Ltd Aflatoun International UN Women #unwomenuganda #womenempowerment

Determined to succeed

Akampa Rita from Kabonera sub-county Masaka district is one of our beneficiaries of the “Girls Take Lead (GTL) pilot project”.

After being trained by PEDN in Financial literacy aspects and Enterprise set up, she developed an idea of making baskets using locally available materials. She sells her products to community members around Kabonera and saves the proceeds in the GTL saving club. Part of the income generated is also being used to support her family and also buy her personal needs. She shares that with this enterprise, she won’t need to beg money and gifts from men as she’s able to get all the needs through her own effort.

Rita is one of the 500 Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) in 5 sub counties in Masaka district being supported by the project with knowledge and vocational skills to be able to challenge situations that expose them to sleeping with men for gifts/money (also called transactional sex), which exposes them to the danger of catching HIV AIDS.

The project is implemented by PEDN and supported by Aidsfonds

Impact of saving as a component of financial education

During the implementation of the GTL project, financial literacy training was one of the topics in the curriculum which was very much embraced by the girls and in their testimonies, as many confessed that they did not know about saving because every coin they used to get, they would use it to buy luxuries. But with the onset of GTL skills training in saving especially, girls realized the need to save little by little for personal needs and future dreams/goals.  Since then, the girls have taken on saving seriously and as a result, four Girls VSLAs were formed in Bukakata, Buwunga and Kyesiiga.

These VSLAs were recommended at the villages and Sub County levels by local authorities and registered at the district and certificates of registration were issued with the help of PEDN and Opportunity Bank Uganda Limited. These were registered under the names below:

  1. Nyondo Abalawa Abamalilivu Saving Group (VSLA) located in Kasaka Parish in Buwunga (10 AGYW members)
  2. Magiri Mwana Muwala Kulembera Saving Group (VSLA) located in Kyesiiga Parish in Kyesiiga (40 AGYW members)
  3. Girls Take Lead Bwami Saving Group (VSLA) located in Makonzi Parish in Bukakata (11 AGYW members)
  4. Lwemodde Advanced Girls’ Saving Group (VSLA) located in Lwemodde in Kyesiiga (11 AGYW members)

All four (4) VSLAs above have opened groups accounts with Opportunity Bank Uganda Ltd.  Also, some girls have opened up individual bank accounts.

  • One of the AGYW in Bukakata (Nakabonge Revine Violah–18years) managed to mobilize fishermen in Lamu landing site after going through the savings session and they started up a savings group called, “Dream Big Fishermen Development Savings Group” with 30 members by the time of monitoring where she is the Secretary and with the help of two of her relatives, they managed to register it at the Sub-county in Bukakata and they got a certificate. They had saved 300,000/= so far.

In total all girls in the project saved a combined amazing total of Seven Million Five Hundred and Thirty-Three Thousand Seven Hundred Ugandan Shillings (7,533,700/=), approx.1,714.156 Euros in three (3) months and majority would like to use their savings to start small businesses.

How GTL has enhanced Girls Confidence to seek ASRHR services

Nampijja Winnie (20), Nampijja Hasifa (19), Akatukunda Fridaus (19) and Nakisekka Hadijah (21) are some of the vulnerable AGYW from Bukakata Sub County enrolled in GTL project. The trio’s lives were dependent on transactional relationships, which put them at risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS. The PEDN training in Social Empowerment aspects, Rights and Responsibilities, Say No to Violence and Accessing Reproductive Health Services, changed them for the better because they have learnt to make better health choices, have developed confidence to visit health facilities for check-ups and also know their rights. They have also developed determination to strongly say NO to violence especially sexual violence and feel more empowered. During the interaction with the project officer, Fridaus had this to say,

“I thank PEDN and Aidsfonds for bringing this project and the training to us. I also thank these two organisations for picking the girl child from behind and bringing us forward. I can now make informed decisions, I didn’t know that I had rights but now I know, I would just do whatever I was told to do whether it was bad, hurting or painful. I also used to behave as I wanted but now, I am a changed person. I could not even think of going for medical attention of any form because I feared and it didn’t matter to me anyway; but right now, I am very confident and ready to visit the health center for VCT to check how my life stands”

Her friend Nakisekka Hadijah on the other hand said

“After the ASRHR session, I felt obliged and confident to go for medical check-up immediately and indeed I visited our Health Centre III in Bukakata for VCT.”

Winnie, Hasifa, Fridaus and Hadijah are part of the 500 Adolescent Girls and Yong Women (AGYW) in five (5) Sub Counties in Masaka district equipped with ASRHR knowledge and skills to confidently seek for health services in order to value their health and avoid transactional sex.

Nampijja Winnie, Nampijja Hasifa, Akatukunda Fridaus and Nakisekka Hadijah during the interaction

Meet Jamirah, a true definition of Hard Work Pays

Nanono Jamirah is a 20-year-old AGYW belongs to GTL club 19B in Kasaka Village in Buwunga Sub County (Masaka district). She is one of the vulnerable girls that benefited from the Girls Take Lead (GTL) Pilot project. Before the project arrived in the area, her life was controlled by fulfilling her needs through transactional relationships. She got whatever she needed in life through engaging in transactional sex with men. She had no hope but taking each day as it came and passed. However, when GTL came to her village and enrolled her, that is when she realised that she needed to preserve her life and learn to work for herself.  she shares,

“I feel have a lot of energy in me now, I used to be a nuisance in the area and all the time, my thoughts were about men, which somehow made me the talk of the area to the extent that I felt like an outcast.  I am now more confident than before and I can even speak in public because I want to change my community.

I even stood for the position of Youth secretary in my area during the recent national political elections but I failed. This however does demoralise me because I tried at least which I could not have done before if it hadn’t been for the Social Empowerment and Leadership training, I got from GTL project. And away from that, I also managed to start up my small business of making pastries (locally known as ‘chapattis’).  I started with Ugx 30,00 but right now I already have above Ugx50,000 in profits.  I use some of the profits to meet my personal needs and the rest is saved with our GTL saving club. No more transactional sex in my life, I can work and get everything I need. Thank you Aidfonds and PEDN for bringing such a life changing project in our area. I wish many more girls in our subcounty could also get these skills”

Jamirah is one of the 500 Adolescent Girls and Yong Women (AGYW) in five (5) Sub Counties in Masaka district being supported by the project with knowledge and vocational skills to be able to challenge situations that expose them to sleeping with men for gifts/money (also called transactional sex) which exposes them to the danger of catching HIV/AIDS.


Setting educational related goals is one the key responsibilities of Aflatouns. This is also true for Nanfuma Mirembe Desire (Primary six)  from Hope Junior School ( Bukomansimbi district).

The savings sessions inspired her to sit down and set her saving goals; buying mathematical sets to assist her in her in studying favorite subject. Little by little taken off her money for breakfast, Desire eventually managed to save a total of Ugx 2,000 and bought a Mathematical set.