The story of Best Ayiorwoth: Starting a microfinance business at age 19

Another challenge Ayiorwoth faced was that many of the women she worked with were illiterate, and the use of multiple languages made communication a challenge. To reduce this problem she collaborates with local government women representatives in communities to assist with communication.

Furthermore, Ayiorwoth explained that if she discovers that the mothers are not investing in their daughters’ schooling through income earned in their business, they will be disqualified from accessing finance from GIPOMO.

“That is the reason why we sometimes talk to those girls personally and we enquire exactly what is happening,” she added.

GIPOMO has also launched a Women in Agriculture fund, in collaboration with the Ugandan government, to provide microfinance to women interested in commercial agriculture and value addition.

Ambitious plans for the future

At the moment, GIPOMO only operates in one district in northern Uganda but Ayiorwoth, who has just turned 22, has big plans for her organisation.

“Right now I’m just trying to lay a good foundation so we can achieve real impact in one district. But in five years I see my organisation directly reaching 5,000 women in northern Uganda; and in 10 years, launching similar initiatives in different parts of the country. And we can even go further ahead and say that I see my model being replicated in various African countries because I know that the same problems are faced elsewhere,” she emphasised.

“For me, this is a new movement that redefines microfinance; to provide for specific needs in specific communities. Microfinance can never be relevant if it has one model. In one community, it should provide affordable finance for girl education and in another, it should provide affordable finance for land ownership – whatever the challenge a community faces.”

According to Ayiorwoth, GIPOMO is also launching an Education for Girls fund that will focus on providing no-interest loans to households interested in enrolling out-of-school girls into a skills development programme.

“I believe that once the girls possess practical skills, the chances that they will establish enterprises that apply these skills are high,” said Ayiorwoth. “In this way, my organisation would be developing a new generation of mothers that are skilled, entrepreneurial and financially empowered to contribute to family welfare and the education of their daughters.”

Advice to other young entrepreneurs

Ayiorwoth accredits a lot of her success to her mentor at S7, which she said continuously encouraged and challenged her to utilise her full potential.

She also wants to tell other young entrepreneurs that, no matter what their background, they have the potential to make a difference in their lives and the lives of others.

“They have to actually do something that they feel strongly passionate about, and in most cases they should seek inspiration from their own experience… If you had a terrible experience, you should despise the experience to the extent that you are continuously seeking a solution for it,” she concluded.

The Anzisha Prize is the premier award for African entrepreneurs aged 15-22 who have developed and implemented innovative businesses or solutions that have a positive impact on their communities. Follow The Anzisha Prize on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.