Betty Wilobo lives in Lira, Uganda, a large town in Northern Uganda that has been deeply impacted by the twenty-year conflict waged by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebellion that displaced nearly two million people. In 2008, as communities in the region began to recover and people began to return to their homes, Betty was working as a tailor in Lira, earning only a few dollars a day. With this little money, Betty supported herself, her own three children, and two other children of relatives who died during the conflict.
In October of 2008, Lifeline staff approached Betty and a number of other women in Lira about trying its fuel-efficient stoves. The goal was to gain feedback before they were released on a large scale in the community. After receiving a positive response from Betty and the other women about the performance of the stoves, Lifeline staff asked Betty to sell them in her shop, and she agreed. Initially, she would walk the streets of Lira with a stove balanced on her head, answering questions about the stoves and selling them to interested customers, many of whom bought them on the spot. At first, Lifeline would give the stoves to Betty on credit, but quickly she earned enough money from sales to buy the stoves from Lifeline at cost and then sell them in the community for a profit. Within one year of selling stoves, Betty had earned enough money to send all five of her children to school.