THE MARKET PROJECT: TACKLING POVERTY WITH BUSINESS CREATION
Setting goals and measuring impact! When targets are set, we are able to determine if we are hitting the mark or missing it. The same is true for economic development goal setting.
The 17 long-term “Sustainable Development Goals” (SDGs) cast a vision for changing our world. They are a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet.” The Market Project is doing its part, making headway with at least three of the SDGs.
The SDGs include the noble objectives of ending poverty by improving health and education; reducing inequality and spurring economic growth; providing access to clean water; and cultivating stable institutions to further peace and justice throughout the world. Adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2015, the Member States are committed to achieving these goals by 2030.
The Market Project has set its targets to help men and women find hope and flourish through safe, dignity-affirming and healing work. Similarly, the first SDG is to “end poverty in all its forms everywhere.” Through business creation, The Market Project works to create jobs in order to lift them out of chronic poverty.
Our initial focus is in the north of Uganda, a part of the country where food insecurity and malnutrition are rampant due to 20 years of conflict and pervasive violence. Nguvu Dairy Limited is The Market Project’s business based in Gulu. We are pleased that Nguvu’s workforce includes youth who represent some of the poorest among the population. Almost 60% of the workforce is under age 30, and a significant number have had only primary education. Most are survivors of multiple traumas. A decent job in a trauma-informed workplace has given about 90 men and women at Nguvu the chance to support themselves.
Poverty is often exacerbated for a person living with disabilities. In Uganda, 80% of people with disabilities live below the poverty line. They are often discriminated against for employment and stigmatized not only in their communities but also in their families. The Market Project seeks to partner with local care organizations and offer Ugandans with disabilities the opportunity to work in an adaptive environment. Ensuring a family member has employment can make a huge difference in the life of a woman who is blind or a young man who has limited use of an arm.
Nguvu Dairy also easily checks the criteria for the SDG #8: creating “decent work and economic growth.” The businesses created by The Market Project must have a quadruple bottom line, including being a business sustained by demand in the market. Nguvu Dairy now operates in five Ugandan towns: Gulu, Anaka, Kitgum, Lira, and Cwero. Each Nguvu team member is learning many new skills that make him or her marketable for other jobs. Staff are also finding healing from their harrowing experiences as “war brides”, survivors of domestic violence or sexual abuse. Management and team members alike are invited to participate in trauma healing groups. Employees at Nguvu Dairy are treated with respect and work hard to earn a competitive wage that will adequately support them and their families.
“End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture,” is yet another SDG (#2) that The Market Project is tackling. Nguvu Dairy is built on these principal objectives. Eating Nguvu yogurt introduces a whole new kind of nutrient into a typical Ugandan’s diet. And, yogurt is known to reduce anxiety, stress, and depression, improve brain health, and help one feel more full. The price point of each unit of Nguvu yogurt is affordable to families even in rural regions.
The full-fat yogurt produced and packaged by Nguvu Dairy also advances the SDG #3 goal of “good health and wellbeing.” Yogurt is full of live and active cultures which can help with digestion, lower blood pressure, and prevent vaginal infections. Ugandans still experience a high rate of infectious diseases due in part to a low rate of immunization. The good news is that yogurt enhances the immune system, which helps the body fight off diseases better and stay healthier. Yogurt can even help with stunting, allowing children to grow to their full potential.
Through the provision of stable jobs and the introduction of nutritious and tasty yogurt into the diet of a vulnerable population, The Market Project is striving to do its part in meeting DSG targets. We are proud to be contributing tangibly to the global objectives that are represented in the Sustainable Development Goals. Men, women, and youth in Northern Uganda are working hard and are gathering hope that the dreams they have for their families are becoming a reality as each target is met and surpassed.
- The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals Knowledge Platform, https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300
- United Nations, 2015
- USAID, 2018
- Nyombi and Kimbandama, 2014
- United Nations, 2015
- United Nations, 2015
- Gertner, 2013
- Elliot, 2017, Food and Agricultural Organization, 2010
- World Health Organization, 2015