In their words

In the Mathare Slum in Nairobi, 15 mothers have come together to form a group savings scheme that means they are working together to plan better for their children’s futures.

When the mothers first met in 2016 many were unemployed and a few were earning one or two dollars a day doing odd jobs. They started meeting on a weekly basis and began contributing 100 Kenyan Shillings (80 pence) each to the communal savings kitty. Each week one member was allowed a loan from the kitty to spend as she wished - often on investing money in supplies for small businesses. The member would then repay the money after one week with an interest of 10%.

The women approached Pendekezo Letu for further guidance. They were given a three-day training course where they identified what skills existed amongst them, learned financial management skills and considered how they could use their savings to encourage community growth. Once the group’s savings had grown to 60,000 Kenyan Shillings (£465), Pendekezo Letu gave them a grant of 115,000 Kenyan Shillings (£900) so they could expand their businesses. Payment into the savings increased in line with income growth and the fund now stands at 300,000 Kenyan Shillings (£2,500).

The capital the women have means that all 15 women have been able to set up their own small business, ranging from grocery and fruit stalls, small food kiosks and second-hand clothes shops. They also operate a welfare fund to support members in times of crisis. The financial security the women have has reduced homelessness and school drop outs because they can now pay their rent and their children’s school fees.

One mother said: “We often used to be thrown out by the landlord due to rent arrears, but since I joined the group I can pay the rent before our house is locked. I am proud to be a member of this group.”

The group has now registered with the government social development department and opened a bank account. The women hope to start accessing larger loans to undertake bigger group projects and investments together.

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