The lives of many have been transformed in Kenya
A saving scheme with a difference is changing lives in Africa
Today, many of us in the UK are trying to cope with the fuel and cost of living crises. We know this situation isn't unique to us. In every corner of the world, families are facing tough choices, decisions which will determine whether their children go to sleep hungry tonight or not. In some places, families who were already living on the edge have seen their situation worsened by Covid, climate change and conflict. For them, malnutrition is a very real threat every day.
But there is good news. In Mandingo-Tana River County, a rural Kenyan community has been working together on a project to bring economic empowerment. And it's transforming lives.
When drought had a devastating effect on the people of one particular village, World Vision Kenya rolled out life-changing interventions. They provided financial support - and business skills training.
World Vision’s Savings for Transformation (S4T) model encouraged people to group together to save, and then loan to each other.
The community was transformed – collective savings increased and the group loaned money to individual members.
Muslima was among the first beneficiaries of their newly formed S4T group. She got a loan of KSh.30,000 (USD 300) that enabled her to buy a sewing machine and fabric to start a tailoring business she had dreamed of starting for years.
“When the drought hit us in 2020, I had no other source of income since my crops had been destroyed. I have skills in tailoring but they could not help me because I didn’t have money to buy fabric, let alone getting a sewing machine. But now I have what I need, thanks to the loan from the savings group,” she says.
Hers is among the many testimonies of families reaping the fruits of hard work, thanks to their new ability to save as a group, with further opportunities to invest and grow businesses. The savings, along with skills they gained through training, have improved their chances of surviving emergencies, such as drought.
"I found it easy"
“I didn’t know if this business would work out. But by praying, working hard and getting guidance by World Vision, I found it easy,” says Muslima.
She is all smiles as she chats happily with customers in her blossoming tailoring business at the community’s shopping centre. While interacting with the customers, Muslima notes that she realised that most of her community members – especially children – were at risk of Covid infection as they could not afford surgical masks.
“I got an idea and began making low-cost masks with left-over fabric from the clothes that I was making. The masks enabled me to help my community and was also good for business,” she says.
This was only the beginning of the good news to follow. Upon repaying the initial loan and growing her savings portfolio, Muslima took a bold step and got another loan. The finances allowed her to venture into the second business of selling milk.
Buoyed by the experience of running a successful tailoring shop, she is reaping the fruits of entrepreneurship. It is now growing into a milk collection centre that she intends to nurture into a milk supply business for neighbouring markets.
“I decided to get into the milk business after using the profit from the tailoring business to buy goats. Since they would often produce more than enough milk for my family, I started selling the extra supply. When the demand surpassed the supply, I began buying more milk from my friends in the S4T group to sell to customers. I have taken a second loan and bought a freezer to store the milk which is a lot now. My children dress neatly and are healthy thanks to the milk,” adds Muslima.
Amina (pictured in pink) said, “Initially, I was afraid of starting the business because I lacked confidence. But I was encouraged by my group and World Vision.”
Amina enjoyed cooking fried potatoes garnished with ginger, cloves and spices. This inspired her to start her business and make money out of her passion. “At the beginning, I would sell this dish and some food would remain. But nowadays, I sell everything because there is a high demand for the food. I always have to spare some for my children otherwise there will be none left for them to enjoy at the end of the day.”
She also increased her income by selling raw potatoes to customers who want to cook the dish themselves.
For Halima, another beneficiary of the S4T group, the focus is on rearing goats. Multiple loans from the group enabled her to purchase nine goats. Some have since given birth to three kids.
“This project has been very helpful to me and my children, I own goats which provide milk that I sell. The goats are also my bank because if I have a financial emergency, I can sell one. I want to save enough money to buy a cow so that I can get more milk. I used to suffer during droughts. But now I am able to sustain myself because of the training I got from World Vision, especially on the preservation of dry grass that livestock can consume during the dry season.
“My goats also have water from a water pan built by World Vision. Therefore, I am not worried of losing them in times of drought,” says Halima.