I really needed my own space
Jedidah Nadnu, a salon owner, a home builder in Kenya. Although she didn’t get much education, she managed to create her own business and build her own house.
I live in Kyangala right next to my mother-in-law. It’s a great village, but there are quite some challenges as well. During the rainy season, for example, our sandy roads become slippery, muddy and dangerous. From time to time, they get flooded, making the whole village inaccessible. On days like that, our children cannot go to school and it’s like we live on an island.
People used to be poor, with no high expectations of life. But one day a lady showed up. She told us that, at the Kenya Women Microfinance Bank, a group of women could take out a loan. Together, we wouldn’t need collateral and would be jointly responsible for paying back the loan. If one of its members is short on money, the group would take over. I liked the idea because the conditions were reasonable, and it would enable us to improve our lives.
We’re very strict
So, we formed a small group of women, which currently has sixteen members. We have monthly meetings in the community centre near the hospital and the police station, where we feel safe. The rules are very strict: members who arrive late are fined. As the group secretary, I must set a good example and must always be on time.
We use these meetings to talk about our businesses and to offer advice to each other. We also talk about the challenges we face, as some members have difficulties paying back their loan on time. However, in the end, we always find a solution.
The group is open to new members, but they must fulfill several conditions. Applicants must be honest and be a permanent resident of our village. They must also become a client of the bank. We assess the newcomer and if she’s okay, we inform the bank officials that she may indeed become a member of our group and a bank customer.
I earned around 7 hundred shilling per week, now I earn around 4 thousand shilling a day.
I earn serious money with my salon
I started my own hair and beauty salon with two business loans. I improved the interior, bought new products and a hair dryer. I’m doing really well and have no problem to pay back the loans.
Before I became member of the group, I earned around 7 hundred shilling (7 dollars) per week, now I earn much more: around 4 thousand shilling a day (40 dollars). This allows me to buy more food and I can also send my children to high school and university, something I’m very proud of. I am also delighted to see women coming from far and wide for me to do their hair, since it means that I am doing a good job.
Our community now also grows crops on the communal fields. We don’t pay any rent for them and they give us rich harvests, providing additional income.
There’s always more that needs to be done
Next to my group loan, I also decided to take out a personal loan. Since I had no house of my own I had to go and live with my mother-in-law when I married my husband. After living there for three years, I really needed my own space.
I used the personal loan to build my house and I am still very proud of that. Now I have a small hall, a living room with a couch, a table, a closet, some chairs and a television. And the children have a nice bedroom.
Then, while I was building my house, I realized that my children would need electricity to study and do their homework in the evenings. So, I took out yet another loan.
You know, a woman is never satisfied and there’s always more that needs to be done. Before, I had to walk almost a kilometer to get clean water. Now I have a huge rainwater tank next to my house. I also took a loan for a mobile phone, so I can always be reached.
There are other women in the village who took out personal loans. We learn from each other about finance and we encourage each other to be enterprising. We see how money and hard work can make a big difference. We have grown as a group and we are stronger than before, so there’s more harmony in our community as well.
I’ve become a stronger woman
In the future I would like to expand my house to have a bigger living room. I also want to improve my salon by getting better equipment and more beauty products.
My life has changed so much. I never thought this was possible. I started with nothing: no house, no electricity, no water… Now look at us. As a woman, I’ve become stronger. My family now has a better life. The future is bright and the whole village has prospered.
Jedidah Ndanu lives in the Machokos region, in the village of Kyangala, southeast of Nairobi. She’s a member of a group of women who receive small loans from the Kenya Women Microfinance Bank. These women’s hard work and the availability of credit has made that the village of Kyangala now prospers.
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