As world leaders shepherd in a new era of international development with the UN’s Global Goals, Basemera, a young girl in rural Uganda dreams about her future and that of her friends and family.
Basemera comes from a Catholic family and is one of seven children. Her father is a primary school teacher and tried to earn enough to keep his kids in education, but didn’t succeed; Basemera had to drop out of secondary school after only four years.
Yet she dreams big. Despite her challenging circumstances, she wants to start a business, so she can ensure that the next generation is fed and educated. She knows first-hand that food and schooling aren’t a given for girls. And she is determined to change things.
Basemera is a leader, a dreamer, a change maker. But that wasn’t always the case. Once, she was resigned to living in the kitchen and worrying about her prospects and those of her brothers and sisters with no solutions, no course of action. Life was bleak, the future uninspiring.
Then Basemera met Rosemary Akello. Rosemary works for BRAC, an organisation dedicated to bringing financial inclusion and economic empowerment to vulnerable populations. In her words, “It’s important to invest in girls, because even if men build houses, women will always build homes.”
That’s why Rosemary runs financial inclusion and economic empowerment programmes, such as Goal, across 156 villages in Uganda, She knows firsthand that financial inclusion will ensure girls stay in school, keep them from early and forced marriages, and grant them the opportunity to determine their own future.
Basemera joined the Goal programme and her world opened up. She learned about her human rights; she learned about her body; she learned about effective communication, and she learned that she matters. Perhaps most importantly, she learned that she had options. She could be financially independent if she had the right tools, capabilities and resources.
Rosemary taught Basemera how to budget, save and plan her family finances. Basemera became financially literate – a critical milestone to achieving financial inclusion. And because BRAC is a microfinance institution that provides microloans to poor and vulnerable individuals, Basemera learned about entrepreneurship. She discovered that she could start her own business and control her economic destiny. That was the game changer.
Now, Basemera is not only dreaming about her future business, but also mentoring and coaching other girls in her community. She is encouraging them to make informed personal and financial decisions; she is pushing them to pursue their ambitions; she is ushering in the new generation of girl entrepreneurs across Uganda.
Basemera wants every girl to have a goal, as well as the right tools to achieve them, such as financial education and access to finance. As the Global Goals are celebrated around the world this week, let’s remember Rosemary and Basemera in Uganda. They prove that if we invest in girls and women, we will change the world.
Payal Dalal is the head of Education and Girls Programmes, Standard Chartered.