Turning skills to profit


Jane is 20 years old and lives in Northern Uganda. Thanks to the support she received from our livelihoods project, she now runs a thriving hairdressing business.

Man in a barber chair with Jane shaving his head in her salon

20-year-old Jane lives in Northern Uganda. She comes from a family of 12.

Jane has epilepsy and has faced discrimination in her community because of myths and misconceptions. When she started school, she was bullied and isolated by the other students and even her teachers. Some members of the community believed that her epilepsy was her fault.

Sometimes, epilepsy would cause Jane to have seizures and fall when she was with her friends. Afterwards, they mocked both Jane and her family. Jane ended up dropping out of school at a young age and became a vegetable hawker.

How Jane found out about our livelihoods project

In 2019, she heard about Leonard Cheshire's Livelihoods projects on Amani Radio and decided to apply. The project is delivered in partnership with Cheshire Services Uganda. It aimed to build the confidence of young women with disabilities in the Adjumani district.

Through skills training, the project supported women to gain essential skills that could increase their livelihoods opportunities and help them gain an income. 

Leonard Cheshire and Cheshire Services Uganda enabled Jane to learn a whole range of new skills and eventually start a business.

The support Jane received

Jane took part  3 months of training at a local hair salon, Flying Squirrels Limited, in 2020. From this training, she gained skills in barbering and hairdressing, massaging, pedicures, manicures and treatments like exfoliating. Jane also had training in business management, marketing and record keeping. This ensured she could turn her new skills into a profitable business. 

The project also equipped Jane with a start-up kit. The kit included electrical equipment like batteries and extension cables and hair and beauty essentials such as powders, spirits, spray bottles, oils and a comb. 

Jane's thriving business

Following the training, her father offered her a workstation so she could start her business, and she opened up her own barbershop. Now, Jane can put aside regular savings and has used her earnings to build her own house. She hopes to have it roofed before the end of the year. 

She has also expanded her business and added two shaving machines, chairs, haircut charts, a mirror, curtains, a solar panel and haircut capes. 

Through the project, young women with disabilities also had access to the Livelihoods Resource Centre. At the centre, they were able to get health assessments and support. Through this, Jane is now able to access the medication she needs from the main hospital to help manage her epilepsy.

Looking to the future

"The holistic approach that Cheshire took in my training has made me appreciate the value of work and medications," explained Jane. "Not only has this medication made the epileptic attacks very less frequent but has also enabled me to work easily."

"If I had had access to these medicines earlier, I would have been able to complete my education. Though it is very much pointless to cry over spilled milk – the education I lost growing up, from those ashes, a beauty has risen through Leonard Cheshire.  I am not only able to provide for myself and my family, but also build my own house."

Jane now dreams about using her business acumen to own a thriving goat farm and vegetable business. In Northern Uganda, owning goats and cows is seen as a symbol of wealth and prestige.