UBA project empowers women former sex workers to get a better life

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The Corporate Social Responsibilities Project by Private Sector Federation (PSF) supported by GIZ on behalf of German Cooperation through the ECO-Emploi program started in 2013 and focuses especially on improving lives of vulnerable groups, such as women sex workers, through skills development and capacity building.

Universal Beauty Academy (UBA) is a vocational training center, established in 2012 by Alphonsine Niyigena, a woman entrepreneur. UBA Center is accredited by the Workforce Development Agency (WDA). The CSR Program of UBA is aiming to change lives of women especially sex workers and their children and reduce HIV infection prevalence among the group, showing a different way out of poverty.

UBA center under the CSR Project provides to selected women short courses in the area of beauty and fashion, ranging from hair dressing, beauty care including massage, facial, makeup, skin care, pedicure and manicure, tailoring, fashion, housekeeping and photography. The acquired skills help increasing job opportunities and therefore significantly improve living standards of trainees. In 2013- 2014, UBA trained and delivered certificates to 120 female sex workers. Among them 64 women are self-employed in hair braiding. The UBA center constantly increases the number of beneficiaries and has now up to 800 students receiving trainings.

Five former sex workers established the association Abahanzi b’Udushya lead by Jane Kamunazi. After receiving the training on hair-dressing the UBA center provided basic equipment for opening a saloon. The five women did not only learn how to dress hair, they also got to know a way to ensure higher living standards for them and their families. President Jane reports large successes for their business: “We are now able to rent the room for our hair saloon and buy the additional equipment we need ourselves.

Since the launching of the saloon our business is growing slowly but surely. We have approached the district authorities for a loan that we needed to keep the salon running and they granted us 350,000 frws through a SACCO. We are confident that the future will be brighter.”

Selected CSR based1 projects, such as the one of Alphonsine Niyigena, substantially contribute to poverty alleviation by skills development and capacity building. The projects offer services to vulnerable groups. Based on knowledge and skills development participants are able to ensure their own living and lay a foundation for a carefree life in the future by starting businesses. The successful project is now supported by different partners besides the German development cooperation through GIZ.