K.L. Sugar is the Founder and Director of Women’s Global Empowerment Fund. Currently based in Denver and Los Angeles, Sugar and her mission extend internationally, providing tools and programs creating economic, social and political empowerment to women and families. The mission of WGEF stems from a life-long commitment to human rights and social justice along with her interest in gender justice, microfinance and its potential for transformation, which she studied in depth, along with gender and development, while earning her Master’s degree from the University of Colorado in 2008.
Her Master’s thesis was titled The Power and Possibility of Microfinance where she examined the outcomes of pairing microfinance with critical social programming. Supporting this idea became the foundation of developing her own model called Credit Plus, and in 2008 she launched Women’s Global Empowerment Fund. She drew from her previous work experience with homeless women and families in Atlanta, and as a community organizer for reproductive health care in Colorado, to unite her passion and education to evoke global change.
Sugar has dedicated her life to helping solve social justice issues, strongly emphasizing her dedication to equality and human rights. Although her focus has tended to women’s issues, she is a firm believer in defending the rights of all human beings. In addition to her work with her nonprofit, her commitment continues as a faculty member and Instructor at the University of Colorado, teaching topics of global gender issues, human rights and international development, educating and introducing students to social justice issues and globalization.
In Sugar’s words, “I have worked with, and studied poverty issues almost all of my adult life, but really began to focus on the issues around global poverty, the dire consequences of globalization and injustice in the Global South, and how it is connected and interrelated to the western world. The continued marginalization and oppression of women and families around the globe is the issue which inspired me to act, and through economic, social programs and leadership development, I founded WGEF, an innovative vehicle in which to make a difference.”
Sugar’s guiding belief is that women must have a seat at the policy table, political and social agency; her definition of empowerment is recognized as unique and valuable:
WGEF defines empowerment as “one’s ability to access resources, make choices and determine life outcomes.” While many definitions are focused on financial mobility, I contend it is much more complex, suggesting financial agency alone does not create empowerment but may be a catalyst to other variables that enable empowerment; other variables are contextually important and valuable in the process, including: autonomy, participation and voice.
Sugar argues that if the goal is true empowerment, we must go further and suggest that all human beings experience equal and full access, and not just one gender over another. Empowerment must include equality and liberties for all; only when all people are imbued with dignity, justice and human rights can we say that we are empowered.
Orphaned at a young age, Bukenya Musa developed an urge to do something to help people suffering in his country. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in journalism and a certificate in counseling he set up a fledgling non-profit in Gulu, northern Uganda. He joined Women’s Global Empowerment Fund in the fall of 2007, and his excellent leadership skills and dedication have enabled the organization to loan money to over 1900 women to date. Not only does he act as Program Director in the Gulu office, he is thought of as stable and caring to WGEF clients, always providing encouragement and support.
In addition to his work with WGEF and its clients, Bukenya is working towards a Master’s in Business Administration. He completed his degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from Makere Univeristy in Kampala, Uganda.
“I will never forget the leader of the office, (Bukenya) who was like a brother to every woman who visits the office. He was encouraging me that, Gladys, you can make it.” Gladys Piloya, WGEF client
After graduating with an undergraduate degree in social work, Eunice Apiyo returned to her home in northern Uganda working to rebuild her community, helping the women and children of the region recover and reconcile.
Eunice received her degree from Kyambogo University, she speaks several tribal languages, enabling her provide the critical communication necessary for our clients to succeed and feel comfortable. She has excellent management and
leadership skills and has been an integral part of our organization since being hired in 2008.
Eunice works with all of our clients, provides training, attends repayment meetings, manages the office, coordinates events and programming, and is a shining, bright, energetic young woman who our clients can trust and admire.