Friday, January 27, 2012

Empowering the Community

by Thomas Bwire

In a tiny blue room that serves as a classroom at the Uweza center, is a small gathering of both men and women sited in a circular shape as they deliberate on the day’s agenda.

Most of the people in today’s meeting are middle aged from a look across the room they are using. Names are read aloud by the youthful secretary to the members present.

“Christine Awour,” goes the secretary as she reads the name aloud. “Am present” the woman sitting in front of the secretary responds by handing over ksh.550 as her contribution. This is the first task undertaken by present members as they give their contributions to the secretary and she jots down against their names to certify that they have given their contribution.

Calling of names takes roughly less than 10 minutes as the entire meeting takes 30 minutes to be precise so as to ensure time is not lost. “Time is money here, we most of us have left their business un - attended and if we waste much time here, then our businesses will go down.” says Mr.Moi.

Meet the Kibera Agenda 4 group, one of the unique entrepreneurship groups that aims to empower women and men in the Kibera community through personal contributions from their savings to boost their small scale businesses.

The group members all engage in different businesses as source of income, to help empower them and earn a source of livelihood, ranging from selling vegetables, second hand clothes, to washing cars.

Colonia Awino is one of the active members, and noted that she is happy to be part of the group which can easily give loans to its members and won’t give her head ache when repaying. Being in the group also helps her to open up to new ideas.
Another lady is Josephine Achieng joined the group last year and was able to benefit from a loan to boost her business.  "Hard work and focus is all that is needed when you are working as a business person" says Achieng.

Although the majority of the members are women, a few men can easily be noticed sitting amidst them. One such person is William Abuto.  William is among thousands of the 2007-2008 post election violence victims after his only source of income went into flames, he used owned a small shop known as a kiosk within Kibera slums. His only savior in time of need was Kibera Agenda 4 Group whom gave him a loan to kick start his kiosk business, and now he sells electrical appliances.

In our next week's blog, we shall update you with an interview with the group's chairman Tom Odumo on what this group has achieved and also challenges that they encounter in the course of their engagement.

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