Women’s Empowerment: The power of women’s groups
I bought a small mill machine with my KSH 50,000 loan (approx. AUD $515) from the group. With the purchase I am now getting about KSH 3-5,000 (approx AUD $31-51) profit every month. That money supports my farming activities and pays school fees for my child in primary school and child in high school. As my profit increases with my mill, my plan is to start a retail shopSalina, 45 years old, married and mother of 6 children.
There are 12 women in the Tolosie Women’s Group. Their ages range from 24 to 50 years old, and most are small farmholders. Since 2012, they have been meeting weekly in their remote hometown village of Perkerra, Baringo in Kenya. They do so to support one another, as friends and as business women who know that pooling their knowledge and resources benefits everyone.
The group joined So They Can’s Wezesha Business Skills Project (WBSP) in 2021 to increase their business knowledge and access capital for their group. This year together as a group, they planted a 20-acre plot of mung beans, generating KSH 15,000 profit (approx AUD $154), which was added to the group’s table banking. 3 of the women were part of a group of WBSP participants who joined the Nakuru Agricultural Society of Kenya event in July, to learn more about agribusiness.
This year extra support through WBSP – business skills training and a KSH 50,000 loan – was of great help to me and my entire family. I leased a two-acre plot of land and planted maize. The capital meant that I was able to plough and plant on time, and it improved my yield. I sold my maize to the Kenya Seed Company for a profit of KSH 60,000 (approx. AUD $617). It was very timely, as one of my children is joining university this year, and I also have one child in high school and one in primary school. I hope to lease more acres next season.Hellen, 49 years old, married and mother of three children.
These women lack access to formal finance institutions, and by self-organising they become economically empowered. For them the group has numerous benefits to:
- Instil a culture of saving, through group motivation and encouragement.
- Provide table banking and group savings, which is used for group lending.
- Increase discipline and promote hard work to repay loans on time.
- Nurture friendship and teamwork, and build leadership skills.
- Learn about effective farming practices from one another.
With what I learnt at the training, and my KSH 50,000 loan, I added stock to my retail shop, and I also started selling second hand clothes and shoes. As a result my profit increased by almost 25% – now I make KSH 4,500 (approx AUD $46) profit every month. I also changed how I talk to my customers, I make sure that I do my financial records every month, and separate family and business finances. Now I can support my husband in paying for the education needs of my children who are in primary school. It is my prayer that I will make my retail shop a wholesale shop in the near futureVivian 37 years old, married and a mother of three children.
In 2023 16 women’s groups — made up of 188 women — in Baringo and Nakuru are benefiting from So They Can’s Wezesha Business Skills Project. Their participation in business training, and the provision of capital loans, has a direct impact on the profitability of their businesses, and the health and wellbeing of their families and children’s education.