From produce sellers to tailor shops, the variety of the businesses is impressive. What’s the common thread? Each of the business owners have decided for themselves WHAT their business will be and HOW they wish to grow and expand. Working in their own businesses with the weekly support of their peer group, they achieve success they may have never dreamed possible. Financial stability empowers them to change the lives of their family, and their entire community.
“Typically, the borrowers reinvest their profits in growing their small businesses, and enable themselves to pay for their children’s education.”
At present, over 48 groups have been formed, comprised of 629 individuals.
Here are just a few of their success stories:
Kennedy Onyango is a microfinance client in the St. Emily Wachara group. He helped to form the group of 15 active members in February 2014.
Kennedy works for Life for Children as a security guard in the Wachara office. He has one child who is 10 years old and attends Hempfield Academy. Kennedy enrolled in our microfinance program with the intention of opening a business for his wife. With a first loan of $125, his wife started a fishmonger business purchasing from the fishermen by Lake Victoria. (Lake Victoria is the source of tilapia supplied to Europe.) Kennedy continues to work as a security guard at night and assists his wife with the business during the day. Working two jobs allowed him to repay the first loan within 5 months.
Kennedy now has a second loan of $312.50 which he has almost repaid. He says that he has seen a great improvement in his family’s well-being as their business continues to thrive. Steady growth has allowed them to gradually purchase larger quantities of fish.
Kennedy has much praise for the Heart for 100 program and is looking forward to additional development opportunities for himself and other members of the community.
Caroline Juma is a member of the ‘Wachara A’ women’s group. She is a mother of four children, and her first born son is in secondary school.
Caroline owns a retail shop within the Wachara center. She started her business in July 2010 in a small way by selling water and mobile phone accessories, with the equivalent of $500, provided by her husband who is a driver at a company within Kisumu. She enrolled in MEDD (Microfinance Enterprise Development Department) in 2013. She expanded her business with her first loan and is now serving her third loan of $2,000. With each loan, she has expanded her shop and added stock. Caroline’s shop is one of the busiest within Wachara, and her income is double the initial capital she used to start her business. Caroline no longer depends on her husband’s income to buy stock. She knows what is needed and how to procure it. Caroline has seen growth through micro finance and is particularly happy with the way that MEDD makes installment payments easy to manage. She is delighted to be able to meet the needs of her family.
Christine – Bonde Women’s Group
Also a nurse at a local hospital, Christine has used her loan to expand her poultry business. Originally raising fryers to sell, she has used her profits to start two new businesses, opening a small restaurant, and selling clean water. In addition, Christine owns a building in which several other members of the Bonde Group rent space for their shops. Besides being a landlord, she is both a mentor and inspiration to these young women. Her keen business sense and strong work ethic serve as an inspiration to them.
Christine and her husband, a journalist in Nairobi who travels home on the weekends, have five children.
Millicent – Obunga Women’s Group
Millicent is a young woman with a keen business sense. Her first business was sewing men’s pants for tailors. She is now on her 4th loan, using funds to expand. Originally employing 3 tailors, she now has a staff of 6. She has bought a second location in order to have room for both the tailors and her inventory, which has expanded to include petticoats, ready-made clothes, and dust covers for furniture. By watching her supply and demand carefully, Millicent selectively chooses what she offers in her business, filling an important niche market.
Millicent and her husband have four children, including one set of twins.
Betty – Tekchuali Group
When Betty’s husband died 13 years ago, she took over the restaurant they ran together. She decided to expand and added a shop selling woven bags. Now on her 3rd loan, Betty uses the money to expand her products to include bicycle seats, sandals made from recycled tires, and metal trunks. Once the 3rd loan is repaid, she plans to use a 4th loan to expand the interior of her shop, as well as to add more products.
Now Betty supports her four children and two nieces.
Kasarani Women’s Group
Kisumu sits on the northernmost bay of Lake Victoria – the primary source of tilapia for Europe. A number of processing plants in the area fillet the fish and prepare them for shipping. Members of the Kasarani Women’s Group process and sell what’s ‘left’ of the fish. Fish heads and bones are fried and taken to markets around Kisumu. Scales are removed from the fish skin and sold for fertilizer. And the skin itself is used in manufacturing shoes and belts.
Miriam (shown in this picture) along with Group members Medina, Christine and Jane have formed a collaboration between their individual businesses that allows them to process the same volume of fish without having to work as many hours. By working together, they can ‘cover’ for each other when needed, and each have a day ‘off.’
Each of these women say that their lives have been improved by being able to grow their businesses, collaborate with each other, and make money to pay their children’s school fees.
Jennifer – Obunga Women’s Group
After her husband’s death, Jennifer was poorly treated by his family. With her four children, she went back to live with her mother and sister. With her first loan, Jennifer bought corn, boiled it, and then sold it in the market. Now on her third loan, she has provided funds that allow her mother to also buy corn to boil and sell. Together, Jennifer and her mother support eleven people in their household.
As a marginalized young widow, Jennifer had low self-esteem and little hope. Through her participation in the micro finance program, she is now confident in her ability to provide for her family. Jennifer is the Treasurer of the Obunga Women’s Group. This group has become far more than just micro finance accountability. They now meet a second time each week to share their lives and to support each other. They have even begun donating to a welfare ‘kitty’ so that they can help each other when a need arises.
Johnson – Gumbe Road Group
An artist who wanted to put his talents to work to support his family, Johnson has a sign shop called Nyamgero Signs. He used his first loan to expand his range of supplies so that he can show customers that he has what is needed to produce their projects. He has recently submitted an application for his second loan, in order to continue growing his business offerings.
Johnson’s wife works with him in his business.