Just had a great article through from our friends at Women’s World Banking about a client of their Kenyan microfinance operation who has been doing great business. Read this and get your head around why helping Africa women to empower their enterprise is critical to the success of that economy, and the nation as a whole.
Microfinance institutions dedicated to women can all agree: when a woman’s business succeeds – and this holds true no matter what country – she reinvests her profits in ways that can make long-term, intergenerational change: the education of her children, healthcare for her family, and improving the quality of their housing.
Women’s World Banking (WWB) is the only microfinance network explicitly focused on supporting women. Headquartered in New York City, WWB serves as a network organisation comprised of 39 microfinance institutions across Asia, Africa and Latin America. WWB works with these institutions to design financial products and services that fulfill women’s needs, while demonstrating the sustainability and social impact of serving women.
WWB network member institution Kenya Women Finance Trust (KWFT) was founded in 1981 by a group of Kenya women: lawyers, bankers, and entrepreneurs, as an institution devoted to addressing the financial needs of women. KWFT has risen to become one of the most successful microfinance institutions (MFI) in the country, with the largest outreach of any MFI, serving more than 400,000 clients in both rural and urban areas of Kenya. This is the story of one of its clients.
Joyce Wafukho is a mother of five, who grew up on a farm in western Kenya. As a young woman raised in proximity to the farming business, Joyce noticed that there were no retail hardware stores in her area, and aspired to fill that gap. In 1994, Joyce invested her savings in a small amount of stock, and launched her business in a rented space. However, her plans for a fully-stocked hardware store were hampered by lack of investment capital, and initially she was able to sell only tomatoes and charcoal.
Joyce contacted numerous banks seeking loans to expand her business, but her loan applications were denied or simply ignored. Finally, after years of rejection by creditors, Joyce’s local provincial administration told her about Kenya Women Finance Trust, an affiliate of Women’s World Banking. KWFT provides small business loans to nearly 83,000 clients throughout six regions of Kenya, all of them women.
Joining other women in her area, Joyce received training from KWFT in accounting, simple book-keeping, leadership, conflict management and group dynamics. In April 2004, Joyce received her first loan from KWFT for 50,000 Kenya Shillings (Sh): some $680. Since then, Joyce has received, and promptly repaid, five loan installments from KWFT, for a total of Sh 1.2 million ($16,500). The loans have enabled her to increase her inventory, buy machines, expand her business, and diversify into selling lumber and farm inputs, making bricks and culverts, and harvesting sand for construction. In the process, she has also become a contractor, winning tenders to supply materials and construct classrooms and dispensaries.
Joyce currently employs 25 full-time workers, as well as a number of casual labourers at construction sites, generating income for many families in addition to her own. Her business, Lugari Hardware Agencies and Construction Enterprises, also employs her husband, a former policeman, as Director and Debt Collector. Joyce’s business has enabled her to build a permanent home for her family and to provide her children and siblings with better nutrition, health care and education. She has also been able to support the college education of her sister, who is pursuing a Master’s degree.
Joyce’s hardware business has accumulated stock and other fixed assets worth more than Sh 2millon ($27,500). With access to progressively larger loans from KWFT, she intends to become a direct purchaser of bulk goods from manufacturers. Within the next five years, she plans to open a supermarket.
Supporting Joyce and the many thousands of women who want to advance their lot in life is what Race4Change is all about. We have no end of support from organisations with similar objectives, but we need YOUR support to ensure our efforts are sustainable. Help us lift ladies like Joyce out of poverty by making a small donation to Race4Change. Just ten bucks goes a long way, especially if you and nine of your close friends send us ten bucks each!
Remember how awesome your mom was when you were a kid? Managing the home, keeping law and order, baking, cooking, sorting school stuff, making clothes and chasing bogie men away? All moms have the right to be seen as awesome by their kids, and nothing is as awesome as an economically empowered woman. Help us help them: HELP US AND FEEL GOOD!