When 15 women from the Sing’ore location in Keiyo North Sub County of Elgeyo Marakwet County decided to start the Sagong women’s group in 2010, their dream was to improve their homes by buying utensils.
According to its president, Regina Kwambai, the women, who were all farmers, agreed to give Sh. 200 each month for her girl since this is what everyone could pay.
“Of the 200 sh. that we used to collect, 100 sh. for a total of 1,500 sh. would go to buy utensils for the one who was receiving the monthly contribution, while the rest 1,500 sh. they would stay with the group for table banking,” he said.
However, this all changed in 2014 and they started dreaming big once they learned about the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) from another group that had benefited from the fund. The president said that the group’s officials went to the WEF offices in Iten and asked to be given the forms to request a loan.
“We thought we would just visit the offices to apply for a loan and then wait for it to be processed, however, we were told that before applying and getting the loan, we needed to receive investment and management training,” he said.
The members who have been reduced to 10 are happy about the WEF officer training they received for free before receiving the funds and say it helped them move their group from one level to another.
On their first request, the group got 100,000 sh. which they used to invest in a poultry project. The president says they bought improved day-old kienyeji chicks and bought feed that they said would mature in four months.
“We wanted to make sure we sold the chicken as soon as possible so we could get funds to pay off the loan,” the president said.
After benefiting from the first loan, they went for a second where they got sh. 200,000 and bought 10 sheep and each member received a sheep.
As they continued to see progress in their lives, their thirst for more loans grew and they applied for a third loan obtaining sh350,000. said the lady in the chair.
Considering the high cost of cattle feed, the group purchased a feed preparation machine to produce enough milk to meet market demands. They also bought a motorcycle that would be used to supply the market.
After seeing the success of the milk project, they decided to further expand their project, and therefore, after repaying the loan, they took out another loan of 500 sh. 000 and added a poshomill to their projects.
“We also realized that we had to go all the way to Iten town to access Mpesa services, and as we had grown in business, we needed services frequently, so we opened an Mpesa store,” he said. Mrs Kwambai.
With the profits from these businesses they bought another motorcycle to help supply milk, in addition to buying two chainsaws, although unfortunately one of them was stolen.
In an attempt to further diversify their businesses, the group leased a plot where they planted potatoes that grow well in the area and take only three months to mature.
As the milk business continued to grow, they also began buying milk from other farmers that they would sell in the town of Iten. They realized that the two motorcycles were not enough, so they applied for another loan of 750,000 sh. and they bought a probox that would carry more milk.
Ms. Kwambai said that after purchasing the probox, they heard that there was a private school in Iten that had put out a bid to transport their students to and from school, which they applied for and won.
“The probox takes the children to school in the morning and then returns to supply them with milk during the day before going to pick them up again at night,” he said.
The president said that from all their businesses they collect approximately 500,000 sh. each month, which has enabled them to access easy loans to put their children through school and meet their other financial obligations.
This has allowed them to employ young people to operate the boda bodas, the Mpesa store and also the posho mill.
Frankline Kiptoo is one of those young people who is also one of the members of the group. Kiptoo, who is married, can take care of his family. He says that he was drawn to the group because of its seriousness which, he said, is absent from most youth groups.
“I am happy because in addition to advancing financially, I also benefit from their advice and wisdom from women,” he said.
Rose Kimaiyo, one of the members, says that now each member of the group has a chicken, a sheep and a cow, which has allowed them to become self-sufficient.
“The group has helped us not only meet our financial needs but also our health needs because our families can get a balanced diet with our products,” he said.
The group now aims to apply for sh.1 million as they plan to buy a plot and build rental houses. They are urging women to seek out the loans and make sure they pay them back to develop.
The fund also provides loans to individual women business owners and women-owned businesses to finance local purchase orders (LPOs) at 60 percent of the total amount and also for offer/bond financing up to a maximum of sh.2 million.
By Alice Wanjiru