Beatrice left school early, too early. At 16, following the birth of her first child, Beatrice's father decided to give her a second chance at school. Although she found the teaching to be too theoretical, she kept at it and this time succeeded, becoming the first woman admitted to the University of Makerere, where she decided to study education.
Having seen first-hand the consequences of a lack of quality education, she vowed to start a school that would serve the impoverished children of her community, girls in particular.
But Beatrice had to overcome numerous challenges before she opened her school. First, she needed land. Once again, her father went against tradition and gave her a part of the family's plot. Now she had the land to build the school, but she lacked the necessary capital.
Ignoring tradition that expected her to be a housewife, Beatrice decided to become an entrepreneur, planting and selling cassava roots. With her earnings, she started two small businesses and, more importantly, laid the first bricks of her Lira Integrated School.
In 2000, Beatrice's school finally opened its doors, offering an education to children from poor families, orphans and children affected by war and HIV/AIDs. She hoped the school would be "a place where they could dream and develop their passions and talents".
Lira Integrated School now provides nursery, primary, secondary, vocational, and agricultural educations
to over 1,500 students.
A defining moment came in 2008 when Beatrice joined Empretec - the UNCTAD Entrepreneurial Development Programme. "Empretec helped me strengthen my skills, improve my business and gain a better understanding of my rights as an entrepreneur. Thanks to the training, I have become a more effective entrepreneur and I have formalized my businesses", she says.
The school's success earned Beatrice international recognition and the 2010 Women in Business Award, which UNCTAD awards to women that excel in developing innovative business ideas, creating jobs and increasing incomes in their communities.
And we hope Beatrice continues dreaming!
The school is funded, in part, by agricultural and aquaculture ventures that teach entrepreneurship skills
to students and members of the Lira community. The products are sold at the local market.
Watch: Beatrice Ayuru tell her story at TEDx Place Des Nations