MICRO ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT
Helping people to be able to sustain and improve their livelihood is an important part of our work in Kibera. Many people try to make a living by running small businesses and providing small business support is a way we can help people to improve their quality of life. Two of the key problems are a lack of capital to start or build the business and lack of business training. To help address these issues we have established a Micro Enterprise Development programme. Support comes in the form of a modest Micro Enterprise seed fund, administered by a local committee of volunteers providing small business loans to set up or expand local small businesses, plus business development training and support. The local committee members are well respected and successful business people in their own right and able to share their experience with the wider community. The initiative is registered with the Kenyan government as a community-based organisation (CBO) under the name of New Community 2019 Micro Finance
Encouraging self-help and support amongst local business entrepreneurs is another way the programme is making a difference at a local level. In addition to providing assistance with the development of business plans (to secure microenterprise loans), the committee runs business training courses and events and is currently exploring new ways to support the community.
Some of our enterprise loan beneficiaries
Chips and samosas
Florence established her business on Kibera Drive with an initial 5,000 KES loan and ran into difficulty when the price of potatoes rose and she stopped making a profit. She diversified into making samosas, and was supported with a further loan once the price of potatoes fell again to buy more potatoes which is a high ticket item for the size of business. The business is now performing steadily selling both chips and samosas in equal quantities. A sack of potatoes will typically last 3 days and a more recent challenge is a competing chip shop that has set up next door.
Showers and latrines
Gerson is a spectacular local entrepreneur. Having had to drop out of university because he couldn't afford the fees he spotted a small piece of ground in Kibera and negotiated free use of it to build public showers in return for providing domestic water. Having built the showers with the help of an enterprise loan (which he has paid back) he then went on to build public latrines. He's now planning to open a gym (which would also generate custom for his showers) and in time a community library that could provide daycare for children, enabling their parents to work.
Susan has a hairdressing business in a shopping area on the edge of Kibera and although it has been running since 2011 has struggled to be profitable. Her micro enterprise loan has enabled her to buy a hairdryer and stock up on hair treatment products. She also does embroidery however the theft of her embroidery machine means that she will be hoping for a future MED loan to replace it, once the current loan is paid off.
Clothes and shoes
Gladys and Jane share premises on Kibera Drive to reduce overheads. The rental on their shop is high and splitting this between them helps make their businesses sustainable. Jane sells quality second hand clothes and Gladys sells shoes, rotating her stock depending on the prevailing weather e.g. wellington boots in the rainy season. Although relatively expensive, this location has excellent footfall.
Prescouse Thobias was one or our first beneficiaries, receiving a loan in June 2019 to increase the stock in his bed sheets business. In fact, his increased stock and improved business enabled him to pay back the loan, plus an administration charge (of 5%) ahead of the three-month repayment schedule.
Life hasn't been easy, with a more recent break in and theft of his stock, however he is not deterred. His ambitions are to continue to grow his business, and to that end, he has been awarded a second loan.
Mark and William have a successful shop on Kibera Drive that sells quality second hand tee shirts and polo shirts. Heading up the Kibera Saints football team and wider local football coaching, they have also been able to employ assistance and support some of the players through this enterprise. William was an early MED beneficiary, using his loan to establish a shop selling sheets. Although this wasn’t profitable, he was still able to repay his loan and jointly with Mark establish what promises to be a more profitable business.
Agnes used her loan for materials to help establish her tailoring business making amongst other things men’s shirts and ladies clothes with premises located in a walled marketplace. More recently she has engaged with the Days for Girls organisation (www.daysforgirls.org) and following a training course is now making and selling reusable sanitary towel kits and engaging two more ladies to help her meet the demand. Agnes is one of only two people in Nairobi making these kits and she often travels throughout the region to give presentations and demonstrations in schools. Little did she think she'd be travelling to schools when she first embarked on the production of the sanitary kits.
M-Pesa and coats
Elizabeth has recently received a loan to help her build stock for her mobile business. In addition to being an M-Pesa* agent, she also holds a small stock of cheaper model new mobile phones costing from as little as 500 KES. Rental for her stall on Kibera Drive is moderately expensive, but there is enough space to diversify the business, therefore she also sells second hand coats, and bottled water. In the future she’d like to add new stock lines including mobile phone batteries, chargers and (more expensive) smartphones.
* M-Pesa (M for mobile, pesa is Swahili for money) is a mobile phone-based money transfer, financing and microfinancing service.