Story - Jedidah Ndanu

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Money and hard work can make a difference

“My life has changed so much. I never thought this was possible. I started with nothing, no house, no electricity, no water but now look at us. Our village has prospered, I have my own house and my children can study.”
“I live in Kyangala right next to my mother in law. It’s a great village with a few challenges. During the rainy season our sandy roads are slippery, muddy and dangerous. From time to time parts of them even get flooded, making the village inaccessible. On days like that, our children cannot go to school. During those days we are like an island.

In our village, people used to be poor with no high expectations of life. But one day a lady came to our village. She explained she was from Kenya Women Microfinance Bank (KWFT). She told us if we form a group of women, we could take loans to improve our lives. I liked the idea because the conditions were reasonable. As a group we needed no collateral and as a group we would all be responsible to pay back the loan. For example, if one person is short on money one month, the group could take over.

We’re very strict
To access KWFT financing, together with other women in the community, we formed a small group which now has sixteen members. Every month we hold a group meeting in the community centre near the hospital and the police station; there we feel safe.

At the meeting we are very strict: members who arrive too late are fined, and as the group secretary, I have to set a good example hence I have to be at the meeting on time always.

As a group we talk about our businesses and we offer each other advice and of course we also talk about the challenges we face, as not all members manage to pay their loan every month. However, at end of the meeting we always find a solution.

We are open to new members, but one has to fulfil several conditions. For example, she must be a permanent resident in our village, must become a member of the bank and she must be honest. We also assess a newcomer and if we see she is okay, we inform the bank officials that she is qualified to become a member of the group and of the bank.

I wanted my own house
After my first loan with the group, I decided to take an individual loan. I wanted my own house because after my marriage I came to live with my mother in law as I had no house of my own. After three years I really wanted my own space. With the loan I built my house and I’m still very proud of it. Now, I have a small hall, a living with a couch, a table, a closet, some chairs and a television plus the children also have a nice bedroom.

When I was building my house I also saw that I needed electricity so that my children could study and do their homework in the evenings. So, I took another loan to get electricity.

You know, a woman is never satisfied, so I also wanted to have clean water next to my house. Up until then I had to walk almost 1 kilometer to get clean water. Now I have a huge tank next to my house for rainwater harvesting. I also took a loan for my mobile phone, so now I am always reachable any time.

I am not the only woman in my village to take an individual loan. We learn from each other and we stimulate each other. We now see how money and hard work can make a difference. As a group we have grown and we are stronger. This also means there is more harmony in our village. In close to ten years as active KWFT clients, our village has changed. We are no longer poor as our businesses thrive.

I earn serious money with my salon
I started my own hair and beauty salon with two business loans; I improved the interior and bought new products and a hair dryer. With the flow of business, I face no challenges paying back the loans.

Before the group, I earned around 7 hundred shilling (7 dollars) per week, now I earn much more. This means I can buy more food and I can also send my children to high school and university, also something I’m very proud of.
With our community we also grow crops as we have fields that gives us good crops. The fields belong to the community, so we don’t pay any rent. However, I earn more money from the salon, around 4 thousand shilling a day (40 dollars). I am delighted to see women coming from far to give me an opportunity to do their hair. I’m very proud of this as it means I do a good job.

My future plans?
I want to expand my house to have a bigger living room and to also expand my salon by getting better equipment and more beauty products.
So, you see, things have really changed around here. As a woman I’ve become stronger, my family has a better life and the village as a whole has prospered.”  

Jedidah Ndanu is a client of the Kenya Women Microfinance Bank Ltd. The Bank serves over 800,000 clients and 80% of KWFT’s operations are in the rural areas where majority of the Kenyan citizens reside. KWFT has over 2,600 dedicated employees who serve clients in the 245 offices which are spread in 45 out of 47 counties.
BIO has invested in KWFT through its investments in Regmifa, a regional MSME fund for Sub Sahara Africa, and - formerly - in the Rural Impulse Fund.