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Aciro Hellen and Abalo Nighty – Microbrewing the Acholi way

Gulu, UG – Members of Kleos Uganda are not exempt from the microbrew trend that has blown up over the last few years. Of course, in the village of Kanyagoga, where Kleos members Akoko Hellen and Abalo Nighty live, things don’t look all that typical.

Hellen and Nighty are brewers of lacoy, a local village homebrew that doesn’t quite resemble your standard pilsner. Lacoy, or maroa as it is known in Swahili, is a mixture of corn and millet flour that makes a fermented alcoholic drink that is a favorite among villagers. Served to groups at a time, lacoy is placed in a pot with boiling water where each person has a four foot long straw with which to drink from the commercial pot. At about 5000 Ugandan shillings (UGX) per litre, lacoy brewing can be a lucrative enterprise.

Hellen and Nighty both approached Kleos about getting a loan for their brewing business in 2017. Each were given a loan of 300,000 UGX (just more than $100) to buy the ingredients to start the brew. Although the brewing process, which includes burying the brew for five days, takes a week, everything either one of them brews gets sold within the day. This has translated to nice profits for each of them. Although not officially partners, the long brewing schedule allows for each to have their own access to customers without needing to compete for them.

For each, the benefits the business has allowed them have already begun to show dividends in their broader lives. Hellen, a single mother of four has struggled in the past to afford to keep her children in school. As of today, she is proud to announce that they are all four in school and she has even been able to use some profits to help her build a home. Nighty speaks of similar benefits for her and her family. She has five children and happily, all four that are school aged are currently attending school.

Although just in their first cycle of loans with Kleos, both ladies are already showing tremendous progress towards their own financial independence and making sure the impact of that success is being felt by those around them. Both ladies spoke of wanting to continue with Kleos to continue growing their businesses, although not necessarily long term. Hellen, for one, can already foresee her business eventually being enough to support herself and her family.

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