WOMEN Partner: KIWOI (Kinawataka Women's Initiatives)
Established in 1998 in Kinawataka, a slum area in Kampala, Uganda, KIWOI engages in various income-generating activities, provides trainings and educational programs, and operates an orphanage. It was founded by Benedicta Nanyonga, a former Bank of Uganda employee, and several other women who sought to raise the standard of living for themselves and other women in their community. To that end, KIWOI invested in trainings to learn how to make mushrooms, food warmer baskets, and pineapple wine, skills that it taught to its members. Further, KIWOI built a public toilet/shower in Kinawataka to generate income for the organization, which it could use to offer microcredit to its members, while providing a valuable resource to the community.

Since 2006, KIWOI has been making and selling original handcrafts fabricated out of used plastic drinking straws. The line of products includes a variety of bags, mats, earrings, belts, and even shoes. Benedicta Nanyonga came up with this novel idea after finding a bunch of straws in a plastic bag polluting and blocking a local waterway. She adapted the traditional Ugandan technique for weaving mats, bags, and baskets (typically out of natural fibers) and developed a process to create the plastic straw products. This unique income-generating activity has provided a number of women with employment opportunities. In addition, KIWOI has been training groups of women in other regions of Uganda how to make the straw products.

Many of the women and children who benefit from KIWOI’s projects are affected by HIV/AIDS and war.
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