BrightLife Solves a COVID-19 Catch-22

A mother of three in Masaka, Uganda, Aidah Asiimwe lost her income from her job as a schoolteacher as soon as COVID-19 hit. When the President ordered a nationwide lockdown, teachers like her had to rely on their savings and other income sources, if they had them, to keep food on the table for their families.

An astute money manager, Aidah had already been supplementing her meager teacher’s salary with income from a banana farm. She knew she could count on the farm income when her teacher’s salary disappeared. But the lockdown started just before her banana crops were ready to sell, putting Aidah in a catch-22.

A Difficult Choice

Money was tight, and she desperately needed what little she had to feed her family, but she also needed to get her product to market and up-to-date information on the market price for bananas to figure out when to harvest her crop. To do these things, Aidah had to make her regular FINCA BrightLife solar home system payments so she could power her cell phone and radio.

The cell phone would allow Aidah to coordinate with the buyer who would get her bananas to market. In normal circumstances, she would meet the buyers in person. However, an in-person meeting would put her at risk of getting infected with COVID-19 or, perhaps even worse, being caught by the police for violating the stay-at-home order.

She also needed to listen to her radio to track market prices for her banana crop and sell when the price was high. Without this information, she’d make less money than she deserved for her crop, and she couldn’t afford to give up a penny.

A Bright Solution

As Aidah struggled to make a difficult decision—putting less food on the table today or having no money to buy food tomorrow—she got a call from her FINCA BrightLife agent. The agent had welcome news: her solar home system was being turned on free of charge thanks to the generosity of supporters to FINCA’s Emergency Response Fund.

Through the FINCA Emergency Response Fund, FINCA is responding to the immediate and ongoing financial, livelihood, and health needs of customers and their communities across FINCA’s global network of banks and social enterprises in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Contributions to the fund provide flexible financial support to small and micro-businesses and high-impact start-ups working in health, education, energy and agriculture, and mobilize FINCA’s financial system—the FINCA Impact Finance network—to support vulnerable communities.

Aidah was ecstatic when she learned that she no longer had to decide between buying food and having access to crucial information. And sure enough, when she turned on her radio, she heard the President warning farmers like herself that market traders were manipulating prices—information that empowered her to make better decisions about how and when to sell her bananas.

For too many families like Aidah’s, hard times lead to hard trade-offs that impact their wellbeing and progress out of poverty. But because of you, FINCA stepped in at this hard time and offered urgently needed support to families in dire situations. We thank you for changing lives like Aidah’s and for giving so generously during this global crisis.