By Martin Muluka, World Vision Communications Officer, Kenya
Twenty-four-year-old Muslima is living the dream of every mother in Mandingo village in Tana River County, Kenya. She is glad that she can adequately provide for her children and family at all times.
Last year, her community was affected by a prolonged drought. The long dry spell reduced crop harvests and caused food security challenges, as well as income losses for Muslima and other farmers in the area.
To mitigate the impact of the drought on vulnerable children and families, World Vision Kenya rolled out life-changing livelihood interventions in Tana River, Kilifi, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera Counties through the Kenya Integrated Emergency Response Project (KIERP). The project is funded by USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance.
One key initiative that was implemented focused on economic empowerment through training on business skills and financial support for affected communities to start or sustain their already existing income generation activities.
This was done through World Vision’s Savings for Transformation (S4T) model which builds financial resilience by encouraging and supporting communities to form groups where they collectively contribute funds and loan each other.
The training enabled Muslima and other members – under the Mandingo S4T group - to begin saving a proportion of the profits received from their economic activities. The group began to thrive, thanks to the support from World Vision.
With time, the collective savings increased, enabling the group to have enough money that they began loaning individual members (as credit to be repaid with interest) on a rotational basis.
Muslima was among the first beneficiaries of their newly formed S4T group. She got a loan of KSh.30,000 (USD 300) that enabled her to buy a sewing machine and fabric to start a tailoring business that she had dreamed of starting for many years.
“When the drought hit us in 2020, I had no other source of income since my crops had been destroyed. I have skills in tailoring but they could not help me because I didn’t have money to buy fabric, let alone getting a sewing machine. But now I have what I need, thanks to the loan from the savings group,” she says.
Hers is among the many testimonies of families reaping the fruits of hard work, bolstered by their built capacity to save, invest and grow businesses. The skills gained through training are improving their livelihoods and reducing their vulnerability to adverse climate change effects such as drought.
“I didn’t know if this business would work out. But by praying, working hard and getting guidance by World Vision, I found it easy,” says Muslima.
She is all smiles as she chats happily with customers in her blossoming tailoring business at the community’s shopping centre.
While interacting with the customers, Muslima notes that she realised that most of her community members – especially children- were at risk of COVID-19 infection as they could not afford surgical masks.
“I got an idea and began making low-cost masks with left-over fabric from the clothes that I was making. The masks enabled me to help my community and was also good for business,” she says.
This was only the beginning of the good tidings to come. Upon repaying the initial loan and growing her savings portfolio, Muslima took a bold step and got another loan. The finances allowed her to venture into the second business of selling milk.
Buoyed by the experience of running a successful tailoring shop, she is now reaping the fruits of entrepreneurship. Like a small oak seed, Muslima’s milk business is on an upward trajectory.
It is now growing into a milk collection centre that she intends to nurture into a towering tree of a milk supply business with branches covering neighbouring markets.
“I decided to get into the milk business after using the profit from the tailoring business to buy goats. Since they would often produce more than enough milk for my family, I started selling the extra supply. When the demand surpassed the supply, I began buying more milk from my friends in the S4T group to sell to customers. I have taken a second loan and bought a freezer to store the milk which is a lot now. My children dress neatly and are healthy thanks to the milk,” adds Muslima.
Amina is another beneficiary of the Mandingo S4T group who is equally successful. From the KSh.4,000 (USD 40) loan that she got from the group, Amina expanded her restaurant business which serves fried potatoes (garnished with ginger, cloves and spices) served with tamarind sauce.
The love that her children have for this delicacy and her experience in preparing the dish inspired Amina to start her business and make money out of her passion.
“Initially, I was afraid of starting the business because I lacked confidence. But I was encouraged by my group and World Vision. At the beginning, I would sell this dish and some food would remain. But nowadays, I sell everything because there is a high demand for the food. I always have to spare some for my children otherwise there will be none left for them to enjoy at the at the end of the day,” she says.
Aside from the food business, Amina has also increased her income stream by selling raw potatoes to customers that also want to prepare the delicacy by themselves.
For Halima, another beneficiary of the Mandingo S4T group, the focus is on rearing goats. Multiple loans form the group enabled her to purchase nine goats. Some have since given birth to three kids.
“This project has been very helpful to me and my children, I own goats which provide milk that I sell. The goats are also my bank because if I have a financial emergency, I can sell one. I want to save enough money to buy a cow so that I can get more milk. I used to suffer during droughts. But now I am able to sustain myself because of the training I got from World Vision, especially on the preservation of dry grass that livestock can consume during the dry season. My goats also have water from a water pan built by World Vision. Therefore, I am not worried of losing them in times of drought,” says Halima.
Gallery: The photos below depict the positive impact of World Vision's Savings for Transformation (S4T) on communities in Tana River County, Kenya.