Many women especially in rural areas have the uphill task of fending for their families. This burden gets tougher as the cost of living keeps rising and the prospects of getting good jobs diminish.
It is such tough times that drove a group of women in Tsunza village, Kinango Sub-County in Kwale County to join hands in a bid to transform their living standards. And gradually they have been making progress towards financial stability, securing a bright future for themselves and their children.
Tsunza For Life Women’s Group, comprising 10 women, was started in 2011 to improve their lives by providing training and creating jobs.
In an interview at their workshop in Tsunza village, the group's secretary Ms Salome Samuel said the organisation was started with the help of Children of Africa (COA), a Spain- based empowerment organisation working in the rural villages of Kinango.
Ms Samuel said they were given Sh3,800 by COA as a starting capital after a consultative meeting with the members to find alternative ways of broadening their economic base.
"We were empowered through the trainings and are now diversifying our family income," she said, adding that they had been trained on craftsmanship, product development and basic marketing and accounting skills.
With the starting capital, Ms Samuel said they were able to buy materials and made 200 bracelets of different sizes and designs, which were sold in Spain, their primary market for Sh500 each an equivalent of five euros.
From the sales the group netted Sh100,000 with which they bought two electrical sewing machines.
"The machines have helped make our work easier and we have trained six members who can use them thereby reducing costs incurred taking our products to a tailor for furnishing," she said.
Since then the women have diversified their products to include unique designs stationery bags, handbags, head scarfs made from locally available lesos, a colourful Swahili fabric. The head scarfs, pencil bags, and hair bands retail at Sh200 each while each handbag costs Sh800.
Ms Joyce Munga, the group’s seccretary said they have witnessed increased demand for their products in the Spanish market.
Every year in August volunteers come to the village and take their products with them to Spain for selling.
The group aspires to create more market links in other European countries through Children of Africa.
"This year has been very good as we have received Sh124,000," Ms Munga said, adding that in this way the women are actually using their skills and hard work to help pull themselves out of poverty.
The women usually export more than 500 bracelets, 300 pencil cases, 100 handbags, 200 hairbands and 200 head scarfs every year.
The group has now become a primary support for the women and their families and they have plans to diversify their enterprise by building rental houses.
"One of the biggest achievement of the group is that it offers credit services to the members thereby developing further economic activities and sustain their families," said Ms Munga.
And as a result of the success of the group, two more groups have been formed including Kata na Shona and Dzivani for Life women groups which also received Sh120,000 and Sh73,500 respectively.