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Women Vendors in Acholi Struggling to Repay Loans

Hundreds of vendors in different markets in Gulu City and Nwoya district borrowed loans to start up or boost their business with the hopes of repaying within agreed periods.
Margaret Lanyero. Photo by Emmy Daniel Ojara

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Women vendors in Gulu City and Nwoya district are struggling to repay loans due to low business.

Hundreds of vendors in different markets in Gulu City and Nwoya district borrowed loans to start up or boost their business with the hopes of repaying within agreed periods.   

The loans which are given out by institutions including FINCA, BRAC, Allied, Acen and commercial banks among others charge between 12 to 30% interest rate and are payable by installments within a space ranging between one week and one month. 

However, the women vendors say that they are currently struggling to repay their loans due to low business caused by the lockdown.  

Ventorina Akech, a dry fish vendor at New Cereleno Market in Gulu City says that she borrowed five hundred thousand shillings from BRAC last year and was required to repay installments of 28,000 shillings each week for one year.   

However, Akech now has over 800,000 Shillings that has accrued since last year after she defaulted to meet her obligations due to the slow business arising from the COVID-19 lockdown. 

//Cue in: ‘’watye ku loan…   

Cue out: …weko loan cen.’’//   

Akech who is a widow with five children and residing in a rental at Bardege-Layibi division disclosed that she would initially earn more than 200,000 Shillings from her daily sales but this has drastically reduced to less than thirty thousand shillings per day. 

Another vendor, Beatrice Aryemo, 44 who deals in tomatoes, Irish potatoes and onions at Cereleno Market has also borrowed two million shillings’ loan from FINCA and was required to make monthly payments of Shillings 305,000 but she says she cannot afford it currently.

//Cue in: ‘’kumbeti cawa ni…    Cue out: …305,000 dwe acel.’’//  

Aryemo, says she is struggling to repay her loans because she can hardly raise 10,000 from her daily sale as opposed to over 50,000 Shillings initially.

Margaret Lanyero, the Councilor Four for Tegwana West in Pece-Laroo division who also deals in onions and Irish potatoes noted that the COVID-19 restrictions have extremely caused low sales and hit hard on the women vendors especially widows, single mothers and those who borrowed loans. 

 //Cue in: ‘’we beg the…    Cue out: …would be good.’’//  

She asked the government to design modalities such as UWEP to support the people financially through its different programs.

//Cue in: ‘’secondly the government…   Cue out: …of the bank.’’//

Tonny Awany, the Member of Parliament for Nwoya County in Nwoya district also disclosed that hundreds of women market vendors are also flocking her office seeking a bailout from loan arrears that have accumulated during the COVID-19 lockdown. 

An employee for one of the quick loan institutions in Gulu City who preferred anonymity says that many women market vendors have been flocking their offices to borrow loans to repay loans, something he said is extremely dangerous.  

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