A Look at Our Incredible Women: Meet Proscovia Nabatanzi

By Davina Ngei and Simon Kiragu

Edited by Linda Davis PhD and Maureen Onyango

Proscovia, or Prossy as she is fondly referred to, is the founder of SHIFOD (Self Help Initiative for Development), a community based organization that funds the business projects of its members. SHIFOD has a membership of 24 women groups within Kyankwanzi, central Uganda. Through the groups, SHIFOD supports over over 650 women. Prossy runs the SHIFOD Eco store, where she retails improved cookstoves, briquettes and pico solar lanterns. Prossy, who is also a trained social services worker specializing in gender and devolvement (which looks at the fundamental changes in the welfare of women), built her business with the belief that a woman should be free from time and labor intensive firewood collection and cooking, as well as pollution and injuries such as burns caused by open fires commonly used in cooking. Prossy markets the products within the women’s groups in Kyankwanzi, while generating awareness on the necessity of improved technologies and fuels for households. Currently, she reports sales of upto 140 cookstoves and 400 kgs of briquettes on a monthly basis.

While Prossy has created a strong sales network within her community, her sights are set on building a brand that stretches outside of Kyankwanzi. It’s for this reason that Prossy grabbed the mentorship opportunity provided by wPOWER, to improve her business model, marketing strategy, fundraising, networks and financial management skills.

Proscovia Nabatanzi at her shop, SHIFOD Eco Store, in Kyankwanzi, Uganda

Mentorship

Prossy has been paired with Leonor, a mentor from the U.K, and together they are working on developing a business plan and marketing strategy to improve the efficiency and sustainability of her business. Prossy acknowledges the role that mentorship plays in broadening her clean energy understanding, developing her critical thinking skills, sharpening her business strategies and enhancing her market research. She has applied  knowledge gained from Leonor to her other business (coffee seedling) and continuously shares what she learns with her family members.

Prossy has long term goals of opening multiple branches of the SHIFOD Eco Store in the western region of Uganda, engaging in mass sensitization programs and distributing a wide variety of energy products. Due to the high costs experienced transporting briquettes from Kampala, Prossy also intends to start a briquette production plant; bringing alternative fuels closer to her community.

“Mentorship programs enable women entrepreneurs to run their businesses from an informed perspective, minimizing failures along the way. I urge entrepreneurs to identify their interests, conduct research, prioritize learning and remain committed.”