In a bid to overcome hardships associated with rural areas and transform their living standards, 15 women from Kanduyi in Bungoma County joined hands to start an enterprise group.
They founded Fadhili Slim Women’s Group in 2009, a merry-go-round aimed at injecting financial support into individual businesses or paying school fees for their children.
After putting aside some money, the group started engaging in table banking where members could borrow and repay with interest as a way of broadening their income base.
“Through this initiative, we started gaining financial muscle as we were able to offer credit services to the members and managed to further develop our economic activities,” the group secretary Floice Ambiyo Esuchi tells Enterprise.
“Most of our members have attained economic independence and have been able to comfortably take their children through school,” she adds.
In 2011, they joined Women Enterprise Fund (WEF). By then they had sizeable savings.
At the beginning, the women fund gave them an interest-free credit of Sh100,000 which they repaid before borrowing a further Sh200,000.
“Our ability to pay back within the stipulated time put us in good books and our credit worthiness grew and we were soon given another Sh750,000 which enabled us to open more doors of opportunity for ourselves,” notes Ms Esuchi.
From the loans, she indicates that they have invested in manufacturing of items such as liquid soap, toilet disinfectant and shampoo as well as in making carpets and artificial flowers.
“Other than ensuring access of credit, joining the fund has seen our members being empowered as their entrepreneurship skills have marginally been boosted,” Ms Esuchi notes. WEF recruits women, provides them with business skills training and loans. The loans are provided upon successful completion of the business skills training.
“The training, exhibition and seminars facilitated by WEF has broadened our scope and now we are engaged in online marketing to sell our products locally and internationally,” she adds.
The success story of Fadhili Slim Women Group has become an inspiration to the members of the community.
“A number of Form Four school leavers often approach us to be trained on different entrepreneurship skills. We have also trained a number of youth and women locally,” Ms Esuchi says.
Kanduyi Women Enterprise Fund officer Moses Walucho notes that Fadhili Slim Women Group is among those which have benefitted from Sh417 million disbursement of interest-free loans in the expansive Bungoma County.
“In addition to the loans, we offer these women groups training, market linkages, book keeping, marketing skills, business ideas, business plans, responsibilities for each member, and organise seminars where they can interact with other women in other parts of the country,” she says.
WEF is a government entity mandated to empower women socially and economically. This is done by mobilising resources to enable women access affordable credit.