Some of the women of ‘Gatwekera
Tina, the social worker at Kibera School for Girls (KSG), had been troubled by some of her home visits. Many of the students’ uniforms were quite dirty and Tina found out that their mothers weren’t able to afford laundry soap – which only costs ten cents.
Tina thought that a savings group, where they could pool their money and take out loans, was just what these mothers needed. She pitched her idea at a parents’ meeting—and on January 21, 2011, ten women came to the first KSG mothers’ microfinance meeting. Tina wanted these mothers to have the ability to rely on themselves, and have the chance to improve their own, and their children’s, lives
The beginning was difficult, with the women unsure if they could trust each other to pay back the loans. Tina facilitated discussions about trust, explaining that the goal of the group was to improve lives of every participant—which couldn’t be accomplished without trust. The women agreed and the group flourished.
Since then, the group has grown to include 32 women and has split into two sub-groups: Gatwekera, which includes women who live in Gatwekera, the Kibera village where Shining Hope is located, and Vumilia, which means ‘to persevere’ in Swahili, and includes women who live in other Kibera villages. Every single one of these women now runs an independent business, selling vegetables, charcoal, or cloth; some even run their own salons.
The women meet once a week where they each bring 50 shillings (roughly 50 cents) and individuals have the option to ask for loans for business ventures or emergency needs. They have one month to repay the loan plus interest. Tina loves seeing the women work together; she is proud of and inspired by their progress.