WMI Success Stories
Naome Kanenu is married with seven children. She used her WMI loan to do something unusual: she bought water to irrigate her small garden of tomato and onion plants. She lives in the drought prone village of Ntumburi in the Laikipia Plateau area of central Kenya. By watering the seedlings regularly they matured in record time and she started a "pick your own" produce business so that she would not have to provide the labor for harvesting. By rotating when the seedlings are planted, she ensures that some produce is always ripe and ready for picking. She transports the water to her garden by jerry cans, filling them up at a watering station a half mile down the road. Her business is very profitable. Within the first 6 months, she was able to pay all the boarding school fees for her 3 children still in school (about $900), install a small home solar lighting system and even purchase a used television. Naome is saving regularly out of her profit to buy a water storage tank and pipes so that she can connect her home directly to the local water station.
Kamida's story starts eight years ago when she ran a café in the border town of Busia, where her husband is from. However, business in Busia was a failure. Being a foreigner to the town, she was alienated by the community and the competition went to great efforts to stop her from taking their customers. Eventually she was forced to close.
When her business collapsed, Kamida returned to her own village to farm crops, selling the surplus to traders. Although she knew that the returns from such a living were not sufficient enough to provide what she needed for her family of six, Kamida had no other option at that time.
When WMI came in she saw it as her chance to start over again. Kamida confronted her fears of the possibility of failing another time and applied for a loan to start a new café. Fortunately Kamida's efforts have paid off. The new location and her will to succeed has proved well for attracting customers. Today she is able to save up to ten thousand shillings a day now, where before she had never saved any money.
Kamida is happy to say that her family is doing much better now. The children are clothed and able to go to school. During holidays they even help her out in the café and learn the skills of the business. Kamida's confidence and capabilities have grown tremendously and she had endless plans for expanding her business and improving things at home.
Alice has made the most out of her loan by investing in various areas to diversify her business. She began by rearing turkeys to generate some income at Christmas, and then used the profits to start an eggplant farm and poultry project. While she was raising her turkeys in the fall she also allocated a portion of money to start trading onions in the market, giving her even more income for the expenses between the seasons.
With her various small projects, Alice says that she is able to lead an easier life. Her many income generating activities have improved her family's diet as well as covered the cost of the loan and daily life. Furthermore, Alice has developed her business skills by learning about savings and book keeping. This has allowed her to budget her expenses and organize for future plans.
Alice would like to share her thanks with the "mummies" in WMI who have taught her these specific skills that have aided in her family's growing prosperity. In the future, she hopes for a solar loan so that she will be able to have light at night to aid her work with the poultry project.
Jackline Nagudi, 32, tells her own story: "Before I joined this women's group I was selling banana and passion fruit juices. My business was moving at a slow pace. Customers were reluctant to buy my drinks because of the myths about juice making methods, which people were afraid were unhygienic. This was definitely bad for my business. I desperately wanted money to start a better and safer business, but I didn't know where to access it. WMI came to my rescue. I managed to get a loan, and I invested the money in soda. I can now buy about 20 crates of soda to sell at a price that gives me profits. In a week I sell about 10 crates, which is really good for my family and me. We are happy and feel rich. I have also invested some of my money in raising turkeys."
Namono is strong, motivated, and a true business woman. When the rain starts to pour at a group meeting it is she who is suddenly there with a bag of second hand jackets, ready to capitalize on the turn in events and collect those extra shillings that go a long way.
In 1996 Namono became a widow, her husband becoming yet another victim of Aids. For years she struggled to support herself and five children on the small coffee plantation left by her husband, until she was eventually forced to begin selling second hand clothing as well to make ends meet.
With the introduction of WMI, Namono took out a much needed 300,000 shilling loan to expand her second hand clothing business to the productive enterprise it is today. Currently all her children are able to go to school, and she even has enough left over to enjoy little luxuries, like milk for tea, which was beyond their reach before.
Unfortunately, however, this had not always been the case. Originally a teacher, after the loss of her husband Guttu realized that her salary was not enough to provide for all the daily fees and family needs. Any extra expense, like a pencil for school, was a luxury that could not be afforded.
In January 2007 Guttu began a retail clothing business to try and cover family costs, but was unable to come up with enough capital to really make any success of it. A WMI loan of 300,000 shillings ($150) therefore proved to be the hidden gem. With the loan she was suddenly able to buy enough stock to make a profit and send her children to school. She has also learned important skills like saving; something that she is now doing for the first time in her life. Guttu believes that her family would not be where it is today without the serious planning that enabled her to save and improve upon daily struggles.
With the left side of her body disabled from her stoke, Guttu is not always fit to run her shop so she has had to teach her son how to run the business for the survival of her family. From his early experiences in the shop, her son now strives to take after his mother and start his own business one day.
Guttu would like to tell the "mamas in America" that their loan money has enabled her to plan, save, and run an invaluable business. She wants to assure them that the mama's here are ready to continue working to pay back their loans for the wellbeing of their families. Their hardworking nature would not allow otherwise.