We are so often struck by the ingenuity and ambition of the farmers we work with – Esther is an excellent example. She’s one of the 52 members of the Nakisenyi Abataki Tuyambagane Women’s group in Uganda, which Send a Cow started supporting in 2011.

She and her husband Paul Hasashya have 13 children. She never went to school because her father didn’t want to educate girls. But thanks to the money she and Paul are now able to earn, all her children are going to school regularly - in fact, one of her sons graduated last year with a degree in social work.

Esther says that her life now is ‘bulungi’: life is good.

Esther and Paul Hasashya, Uganda“Send a Cow taught us how to plan”

Send a Cow encourages each family in the group to develop at least three different income generating activities so they are not dependent on just one source in times of crisis.

Esther and her husband already have more than three income sources – as well as plans for more. The family has installed solar power. As well as using it herself in the home, she is also able to earn 3-4,000 UGX (£0.71-0.95) a day charging her neighbours’ phones.

They sell milk and make more than 5,000 UGX (£1.18) a day. They also bake and sell pancakes, earning a further 4-5,000 UGX (£0.95-£1.18) each day.

Esther has a sewing machine which she uses to make and repair clothes. “When I have finished my day’s work in the garden I sew. Sewing relaxes me but it also makes me money.” This brings in a further 4-5,000 UGX (£0.95-£1.18)a day.

Paul grows rice in the swamps nearby. He has already made 2,160,000 UGX (just under £512) selling 900 kilos and still has 700 kilos stored. “He makes a lot of money so he takes care of the bigger expenses like school fees.”

Esther and Paul Hasashya smiling, Uganda“We have vision now”

Their future plans include opening a business buying and selling farm produce and setting up a piggery. And they are already starting to plan ahead to a time when they may have less energy.

“We are preparing for old age. In the next 10 years we might not have the energy for farming. But we’ve realised a gap in the market for bread. We’re planning to buy a machine which will make bread. It’s less laborious for us and we can do it in old age.”

Why Send a Cow works on enterprise

Our vision of a confident and thriving rural Africa means that food security – where people always have access to enough nutritious food – is not our only concern for the people we work with.

The bigger, more sustainable picture involves helping farmers set up innovative and productive businesses, not necessarily just producing food. This is going to be particularly important if we are going to encourage the next generation to stay in the rural communities where they grew up - and discourage migration.

Small businesses can give people different sources of income. This is a form of resilience that helps them secure their futures against unexpected shocks like crop failures and natural disasters. We also work with groups of farmers to develop strong, local markets. And we encourage them to work together in cooperatives that give the group greater economic bargaining power.

Read our five year strategy Enterprising Africa to find out more about Send a Cow works.