South Sudanese farmer holds pineapple at market stall in Juba

How a South Sudanese farmer is growing her income

4 March 2024
ITC News

In South Sudan, women and children suffer most from hunger due to years of conflict and the struggling economy. Female-headed households face even more challenges. Young girls are sometimes married off at an early age or are compelled to care for their siblings.

Joice Poni Regelio, a 38-year-old mother of four, runs a farm to support her family in Aru Junction Village. In this interview, she explains how support from the International Trade Centre (ITC) is transforming lives in her area of Central Equatoria State. She’s among the women and girls undergoing training, attending markets, and receiving farm tools and inputs through an ITC programme.

A woman is sitting in a chair counting money
2024, Juba, South Sudan. Joice counts the money she earns from her sales after a successful trade fair in Juba.
Photo by ITC

Question: What are your challenges as a female entrepreneur?

Answer: As a single mother and an entrepreneur, balancing the needs of my children and my business requires a lot of time, energy, and resources. Normally, I use my earnings for family needs, like hospital bills. That keeps me from growing my business.

Also, here at Aru Junction Village, we don’t have proper market shades. We sell our produce in an open space on the roadside. The heat is unbearable, and we’re so close to the road – it’s not safe. The busy highway is dangerous for our fruits and our lives.

Question: What do you need?

Answer: I want to grow and expand my business. For that to happen, I need a proper market stall. Then I can keep more supplies, and make sure that I stay safe, along with my clients and my produce.

I am only human. Sometimes when things get really hard, I think of giving up – just like several other women here have done. If there is an organization that can bring us women together, encourage us and give us emotional support, I believe that will keep us going.

Question: What are some of your successes?

Answer: First of all, I would like to thank ITC for extending this great support to the people of South Sudan. Before this project, I operated without planning and budgeting. I didn’t know anything about saving.

But through this project, I learned why saving is important. Now, I can plan and save. Also, my sales have increased, thanks to the monthly trade fairs organized for us in Juba. During the trade fairs, I sell in one day what would otherwise take me a week to sell by the roadside in Aru Junction Village.

And with support from this project, I’ve gotten loans. This has helped me expand my production and raise my income. As a result, my children now go to a good school in Kenya, and I can provide for their basic needs. I hope the project continues to support me and other women, so we can keep growing and learning by improving our skills and knowledge.

Question: What is your message to other women entrepreneurs?

Answer: My message to fellow South Sudanese women, and especially single mothers, is to be financially secure and independent. Today, many women silently go through domestic violence in their homes because they are not financially stable. They are always afraid to lose what the family gives. I advise my fellow women to work hard towards achieving that, break loose from the chain of dependency, stand up, and make bold decisions for themselves.

About the Project

The International Trade Centre’s South Sudan Jobs Creation and Trade Development project aims to increase the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and employment opportunities for the South Sudanese population engaged in the fruit and vegetable subsector.

The European Union-funded project contributes to addressing the value addition, competitiveness, job creation and trade development challenges of South Sudan. Specifically, the interventions of the project are expected to improve productive capacities and compliance to standards for MSMEs, increase market linkages for MSMEs and enhance employability and entrepreneurship capacity for the South Sudanese labour force, focussing on youth and women.

South Sudanese woman organises tomatoes in a market stall.
2024, Juba, South Sudan. Joice sells at the monthly trade fairs organized by ITC in Juba. Buyers from hotels and restaurants come looking for local suppliers.
Photo by ITC