ugandan women
“I want to be a designer … I want to be a lifeguard … a pilot … a journalist … a president! … I just want to dance.” These were just a few of the phrases on the signs that were held up in a recent lip dub video, featuring 500 Ugandan women, all of whom have started small businesses in their local communities. Working with SYPO Uganda Ltd, a Dutch non-governmental organization that provides micro-loans, the women choreographed a lip dubbed dance to Jessie J.’s famous song, “Price Tag,” in order to show the world that they want the same things as everyone else, and not just survival.

Over the past couple decades, Uganda has reduced poverty from 56 percent in 1992 to 24.5 percent in 2009. However, the majority of those who fall below the poverty line live in the countryside where access to education, services and better jobs are much more limited.

That’s where SYPO Uganda Ltd., stepped in. The organization began working with Ugandan partners in 2009 to support entrepreneurial projects of rural women in Uganda. Providing microfinance loans through local partners in transparent and effective ways led to great levels of success among recipients. To date, the organization has provided over 1,500 loans and maintained a 99 percent repayment rate.

The loans can be used in any way that the women want and are repaid with interest, ensuring that there is no third party influencing how the money is used or leaving any unwanted feeling that it is just another Western handout. The loan allows Ugandan women to be able to create and sustain a livelihood for themselves and their families.

In the final moments of the lip dub video, a message flashes up, reminding those watching that these women are proud to be able to work for themselves and build a life for their family and community. Empowerment is the best form of international aid. “We Africans want the same things that you want – survival is not enough. But we’re not asking for handouts. Instead we are asking for loans to start our own businesses. Help us grow. Go to to support our business ideas!” the women said.

– Andrea Blinkhorn

Sources: Youtube, Huffington Post, SPYNO, Microbanker, Rural Poverty Portal
Photo: Microbanker

red nose day
Friday, March 15, 2013 was best spent celebrating Red Nose Day by sitting in front of the television watching Comic Relief – Funny for Money on BBC One. The show was full of comical sketches, musical performances, and celebrity appearances all to help raise money for Comic Relief, an organization working to make the world poverty free. It definitely resulted in a great deal of laughter, which is the point of Red Nose Day, which promotes “having fun and changing lives” as one of its main goals.

Red Nose Day is a day for everyone “to put on their Noses, pull out all the stops, and get fundraising,” according to the official website. Literally, everyone puts on red noses and clowns around, eliciting laughter and donations. Celebrity support of the day came from an array of celebrities – from Rihanna, who donned a Stella McCartney red nose t-shirt, to Ron Burgundy of Anchorman, who performed in one of the comical sketches. And, of course, One Direction, a big supporter of the Comic Relief organization, made an appearance, performing their hit song, and the official Red Nose Day single, One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks). Yet, one celebrity stood above the rest, Jessie J, a panelist for the show The Voice. On live television, Jessie J sacrificed her lustrous black bob in order to boost the amount of money raised, all of which is going to Comic Relief. After shaving her head she said, “It is the weirdest feeling” to have no hair!

The money raised for Comic Relief is going to help support a variety of people and projects in both the United Kingdom and Africa. In the United Kingdom, it will, amongst many other things, help provide shelter to young adults living on the streets and help protect those who have suffered from domestic abuse. In Africa, it will help by providing life-saving treatment for malaria to communities by giving them access to clean and fresh water and much needed vaccines.

Red Nose Day was celebrated throughout the United Kingdom and Africa. As of 6:30pm on Friday night, it had raised over £75 million, setting a new record for the most money raised in the 25 years since its creation. The total amount raised, however, has not yet been released.

If you missed the “the star-studded and unmissable Comic Relief- Funny for Money” show on Friday, don’t worry! You can get exclusive clips on iTunes, with all purchases going to support Red Nose Day.

– Angela Hooks

Sources: UK Yahoo, Red Nose Day, BBC
Photo: Red Nose Day