IST works to empower women and girls in the informal sector (markets) which constitutes 80% of women entrepreneurs in markets in Uganda. From 2015 to date, we have worked tirelessly to equip 15,000 entrepreneurs (women and men) with knowledge and skills in business & financial literacy, savings, record keeping, mindset change and business diversification.
In December 2018, IST with support from UN Women and the Embassy of Sweden developed and launched the Market Garden App an online sales platform that creates convenience for people to shop for groceries anytime, anywhere using their smartphones (mainly Android for now). The app went through several test runs in 2019 and was finally open for public use in March 2020.
IST initiated an emergency response program for markets countrywide where we supply emergency relief items in form of; handwashing facilities, sanitary towels, tents, mosquito repellants, drinking water, mattresses, blankets, handwashing soap, sanitizers, face masks and aprons. The items promote market women and men’s safety, protection and access to markets.
We have trained over 40,000 women entrepreneurs in leadership, voice, rights and power, human and women’s rights. Majority of whom have taken on leadership at different levels; markets, local government and other platforms. IST boasts of having 1 woman in the current parliament of Uganda who we groomed and other 20 who have contested for leadership in their areas.
We have built strong cooperatives with market women in Busia, Iganga, Kampala, Wakiso, Gulu, Arua and Pader with a focus on mobilization, formation, training in co-operative formation and management, conflict management and group dynamics and mentorship in the best business practices and leadership participation for market women. 8 Cooperatives have so far been formed.
IST organized GBV Male Conversation circles or trainings which were piloted in the markets of Nakawa, Kalerwe Bivamuntuuyo, Ntinda, Gulu main, Cerealeno and Lacor. The conversations raise men’s awareness on Human and Women’s Rights issues so as to eliminate violence against women in the market
IST uses the world’s renowned Training for Transformation methodology as a key tool to energize a new quality of leadership that is committed to the people, their rights and the transformation of their conditions. The methodology helps people to build structures which enable people to become self-reliant.
We run a needs-based adult literacy class for market communities in Kampala and Wakiso districts in Uganda. The Adult literacy classes are conducted focusing on addressing the needs, problems, and the dreams of market women.
IST has also been able to appreciate and design interventions for refugee market women and vendors who by nature of their refugee status presents them more challenges compared to their Uganda counterparts.
IST is constructing a solar powered water project in Lacor market in Gulu aimed at improving access to safe water, promoting safety and hygiene for reduced incidences of diseases and health risks among market communities. The project will benefit 600 families in and around the market.
IST conducts market community activation sports activities across the country where market vendors and other community members enjoy entertainment and at the same time receive information on prevention of gender-based violence.
IST has progressed in steering the efforts to influence the repeal of the old Markets Act of 1942. Being a highly contentious Bill, a lot of advocacy and consultations are still needed to ensure it is repealed and enacted into law.