Our Income Generating Activities (IGA) scheme is indisputably a high-impact and sustainable method of helping a family lift themselves out of the worst extremes of poverty. But why is it that 95% of parents starting a business with us are mums? Why don’t the dads engage?
To be honest, it’s a bleak picture. Research from around the world shows that when men don't have a job or anything productive to do, it badly affects their view of their male identity. Most men then become hyper-masculine… getting involved with fighting, excessive drinking or promiscuous behaviour. Some men go the opposite way and adopt feminine roles and behaviour.
We see all of this in the Namatala slum. Most work available for men tends to be manual labour… and since the men are in poor health because of the poverty, they find it difficult to do manual work all day. So, typically, a man in Namatala will go to town early in the morning, do two or three hours of manual work and then stop at around 9am. By this time, he will most probably have earned around 2,000 shillings (45p) – enough money to buy alcohol and drink for the rest of the day. This then leads to the fighting, drunkenness and sex.
A new, depressing phenomenon that we have started to see in Namatala is that the men's wives are quite understandably giving up on their husbands. The wives then move out and set up home on their own. Some then take in young men who are quite happy to do nothing but rely on their 'sugar mummies’. It’s not great.
We have tried to work with dads and hold meetings at the school for training them in numeracy, literacy, business skills, etc. However, most men seem disinterested in their future… they have given up. All that seems to interest them is getting the 2,000 shillings in order to pay for their daily alcohol fix to deaden the pain.
As a Christian organisation, we have witnessed that men coming into a faith in God are more likely to escape this desperation, or if they come from slightly wealthier, supportive families (and there aren’t many of those in Namatala). So sadly, it’s a really difficult situation.
In the meantime we continue to regularly start mums in their own business, with full training and support – and the results are amazing. See some of our case studies for examples. If you could provide a parent with a business start-up grant for just £25, please click here.
Picture: One of our IGA dads. He has a small transport business using his bicycle… moving things like sacks of charcoal for his customers.