THE first time I applied for a loan, it was an education. I had been a customer at my bank in the Lake Victoria-side city of Entebbe, Uganda, for five years.
I was a farmer, and I knew there was money to be made in pig farming. As a veterinarian, I also knew our local farms were raising inbred pigs, which had poor genetics and did not grow well. I planned to import my first male pig from South Africa to improve the genetics on my farm.
But the bank manager refused to give me an agricultural loan. He advised me to get a non-agricultural loan, buy a car, sell it and then use the proceeds to buy what I needed. Whether it was because I was a woman, or because I was a farmer—and most farmers in my country are women—getting a loan was never even an option.
My husband and I sold our only truck to buy the pig. People in the community laughed at us—and especially at him. The pig cost us $4,000. I was lucky. My husband was very supportive, and we had other sources of income to sustain us while I built up my pig farm. At the end of one year, I made $12,000 by selling the piglets sired by the imported boar.