Blog Post #1
Economic Side on Production of 31bits
Can the production of 31bits really have an impact on Uganda’s economy?
According to the 2014 Economic Freedom Index the population of Uganda is roughly 35.6 million. To put that in perspective that is almost the same population as California. The main difference between the two is that in Uganda almost 1 out of 4 people are living below the poverty line. (World Bank) This is mainly due to the dark cloud that hovered over Uganda. That dark cloud was the devastating war that traveled through East Africa. The war led by The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and its leader, Joseph Kony, caused carnage throughout the region. In 1996, the government of Uganda forced 1.6 million people into camps that provided protection and refugee. As the years went on, and after the devastation passed, people were allowed to leave and head back to their villages. But as people returned to their village they were hit with the reality of limited education access and employment options. With that harsh reality, the people of Uganda were left with little room to make sustainable lives. According to the 2014 Economic Freedom Index, Uganda scored an economic freedom rate of 59.9 which ranks 91st in the world. With those uninviting statistics it is apparent that Uganda needs all the help it can get in terms of organizations providing sustainability for the Ugandan people. Among the hardest hit are the women of Uganda, which is the focus of this blog post.
31bits is an organization in which women in Uganda make bracelets out of resources found in the area. 31bits empowers the women of Uganda by providing an income for them. 31bits also provides financial education, micro-finance opportunities, and business training. These programs provided by 31bit give the women the tools to be sustainable and are intended to make a dent in that terrible economic freedom ranking.
Manuel Ellis and C.M. Blackden shed light on the economic disparity of women in Uganda with their article “Gender and Economic Growth in Uganda: Unleashing the Power of Women.” Their research reveals that women account for 80 percent of unpaid workers. But research shows that Ugandan women are more than capable of being entrepreneurs, and actually contribute significantly to the labor force of Uganda. But what is holding the women back are the barriers that are unfairly put on them. Those barriers include the inability to enforce the rights of women and the lack of knowledge that these women have on their legal right to form businesses. 31bits is doing their best to overcome these inequalities by educating the women through their various programs.
In terms of production, 31bits uses raw materials to make their bracelets. These raw materials include recycled paper. The recycled paper that is used to make the 31bits products are found in Kampala, Uganda. The economic impact that it is having in that region is huge and is highlighted in Shiana Shealy’s article, “Her Hands: Images of Craftswomen in Uganda, Bolivia and India.” The article looks into case studies in which women who have never had a bank account, now are able to open one and within 6 months will hopefully be able to afford their own house.
Fox Business even did a TV interview with the two of the founders of 31bits. In the video it goes into further depth of how the production of their products are deeply impacting the economics of Uganda. The video touches on the fact that the women are paid the equivalent salary of a Ugandan teacher and the organization is currently employing about 100 Ugandan women. It puts into perspective the role 31bits and their products are having on the economy of Uganda especially in regards to women. In my humble opinion it seems like the production of 31bits bracelets are indeed helping the Ugandan economy. They are doing their part in lowering the disparity of economic freedom in Uganda. The production of 31bits is the business model that organizations must follow to drive up the Ugandan economy and help more people there rise above the poverty line.