In March I had the pleasure to take a field visit with Mona Lockett, Treasurer of Webcor, to see the ACT-sponsored charity Hand in Hand International’s work on the ground in Kenya.
Our own ‘sponsored village’ is just in start-up mode and a four-hour journey from Nairobi where I was hosting our conference, so it was great to see similar programmes but much closer to where we were staying.
First of all, we met Teresiah in Kiambu town, who has been part of the programme since last year. Teresiah ran a tailoring business in her rural homestead, but after training identified a gap in the market and brought her business into town. She scaled up the business growing from one to three different sewing machines, and now has two interns to support her. From the women’s group she is part of, and the training given by the charity, she has gained new ideas and learnt how to manage a business.
Teresiah now understands how to track her finances, losses and profits, and is planning a bigger room to work out of so she can accommodate more machines and interns. The interns are students who come here after their classes. Previously Teresiah made 200 shillings profit per day, but now it can be anywhere up to 1800. Not the big bucks, you might say, but the difference it is making to her life is enormous.
Next, we met Susanne who is a livestock farmer turned crop farmer/kitchen gardener. On her long, thin, steeply sloping piece of land Susanne grows indigenous crops which command a higher price than others at market. She has been able to invest in a water pump to help her get water up the hill from her deep well and also has bought three little pigs. Alongside her cattle, and sustaining themselves on waste crops, these animals provide organic fertiliser for the crops as well as the basis for a biogas facility – which brings energy to her kitchen. A very sustainable model indeed! Susanne has opened a small shop on the property and is now looking to expand.
Before we returned to Nairobi centre we visited a women’s group (yes, most of these grassroots entrepreneurial projects are run by women) and saw how they operate ‘merry-go-round’ banking – where at any time you might be borrower or lender. A simple but effective way of learning the basic principles of financing.
If you would like to support Hand in Hand International you can donate directly at handinhandinternational.org, and the ACT will also be raising funds for them at this year’s Annual Dinner in November.