The five new groups in Nairobi, Kenya that received SIA Small Business Fund (SBF) grants weren’t just pleased, “they were ‘over the moon’” says Wambui Nguyo, SIA SBF local coordinator. “They said it seemed like a dream, especially when I confirmed it wasn’t a loan and they wouldn’t pay back!”
Each group of three people received $150 and they have agreed amongst themselves to meet regularly and to get together with the other three SBF groups in the area to see how they can all grow and also start saving together.
Wambui, who works for peace and reconciliation in her day-job made sure that one of the new groups was Muslim. She explains, “As you know, our relationship between Christians and Muslims is getting strained by the minute and with the frequent explosions in buses and churches people are beginning to point fingers at one another. We therefore wanted to promote and set an example that it is possible to work together, although I did caution them to be sensitive to them especially when praying together.” Not only are the groups diverse in their faiths, they are also a mixture of different ethnic groups, including Kikuyu, Luo, Luhya and Somali.
Here is a short profile of three of the five new groups, along with their Swahili business names:
AMANI GROUP (PEACE)
Mercy and her two daughters, who are in high school, run this new business. Mercy’s husband left her three years ago and so, in order to provide food for the family, she worked washing sacks at the riverside. With the SBF grant they have opened a roadside cafe, where they cook and sell maize and beans.
JIINUE GROUP (TO LIFT ONESELF)
Peristar is also starting this business with her two daughters, Mary and Rose. Wambui describes Peristar as a “very strong, charismatic woman who is a believer and has a lot of hope for tomorrow.” They will be selling vegetables in the market to support themselves and Mary and Rose’s children.
UPENDO GROUP (LOVE)
This is a group of three friends – Jamarose, Rodah, and Melvon – and they chose the group name to reflect their friendship! All of them were in the business of selling second-hand clothes and the grant made it so they could come together and form a larger business together. One is married with two children, another is single, and the third is divorced and has two children. The grant doesn’t just help the three friends, it also will benefit the four young children!
I’ll be visiting all these groups in Nairobi in July and I’ll be able to share more photos and stories then!