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KENYA: Women entrepreneurs improve well-being of their children

Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco operate Savings and Internal Lending Communities to help women entrepreneurs become self-sufficient


(MissionNewswire) Hundreds of women entrepreneurs in Dagoreti, Kenya, and other poor areas are benefiting from the Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) project started by the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco three years ago, according to an article in the Global Sisters Report. The Salesian Sisters developed the microloan project after securing funds from Don Bosco Mondo in Germany.

The project was launched to help women start businesses of their own to alleviate poverty and improve the well-being of their children. Many of the women use the funds earned for their children’s school fees and other necessities.

Sister Gisele Mashauri explained that the groups consist of 15 to 25 members each. Members save at least 50 Kenyan shillings (50 cents) per day from their businesses and then lend this money to other members in the form of loans without collateral.

“Microloans enable the poor to engage in self-employment and income generating activities,” said Mashauri in the Global Sisters Report article. “Our main goal is for families to be self-sustained and every child to go to school. We have seen very many poor people living in slums become financially independent and better able to break out of poverty.”

Joyce Nyokabi, a 34-year-old mother of four, is one of the recipients who has seen success. She started a small grocery business in 2019 in a poor district on the outskirts of Nairobi, after she received a loan from the project. Before, the family lived in extreme poverty after her husband lost his job as an office messenger at a local baking company. According to the article, Nyokabi took on odd jobs working all day just to feed her family and pay school fees for the children.

Joyce Nyokabi, a 34-year-old mother of four, is one of the recipients who has seen success with the Salesian program.

In the article, Nyokabi explained, “Life was very difficult and we suffered a lot as a family. I could only make around $30 (U.S.) monthly from odd jobs. We lived from hand to mouth and whatever I made could barely sustain other needs. My husband and children entirely depended on me.”

The project has changed her life. Nyokabi is able to feed her family and save to further expand her business. She said, “I’m very happy now and the future looks bright. I now have my own money and I’m able to comfortably cater for the needs of my family. I want to thank the sisters for improving my poor condition.”

Despite the steady growth of Kenya’s economy, according to UNICEF, more than half of the country’s population lives below the poverty line on less than $1 a day. UNICEF also noted that Nairobi is home to 3 million residents, most of whom endure lives of extreme poverty in the city’s slums. The most vulnerable are families and children who live in these urban slums and in areas of the country most affected by HIV/AIDS. Many do not have access to health care, nutrition, sanitation or education.

Youth living in Nairobi’s slums are at risk for exploitation, forced labor and other abuses. Few attend the later stages of school as compared to those living in Kenya’s more rural areas. The few schools serving this disadvantaged community are beyond the financial means of most families. UNICEF noted that while Kenya has free and compulsory education, youth in poverty still cannot afford to attend school. Close to 90 percent of children from poor households fail to complete their basic education.



PHOTO CREDIT: Doreen Ajiambo / Global Sisters Report  (Photos used with special permission and may not be re-used without permission from Global Sisters Report.)

Global Sisters Report – Sisters’ lending project helps women in poverty gain financial independence

Salesian Missions – Kenya

UNICEF – Kenya Statistics