They say that when there are no ceilings, the sky is the limit and the sky even becomes a limit when we look at how women excel when they are given the resources to do so; because once you give a woman the financial freedom and social power to succeed, she becomes an unstoppable force.
This is exactly what is happening at the Women Enterprise Fund. For decades, women have only been seen as people whose lives only belong in the kitchen and in raising children and while there is no crime in that, women are meant to be so much more. They are meant to be powerhouses.
Since 2007, the Women Enterprise Fund has made its mission to mobilize resources for sustainable access to affordable financial and business support services to empower Kenyan women. One of the success stories I looked into is the United Habit Farmers Self Help Group, a registered group of strong determined women who have had their lives change since joining WEF and having their business boosted thanks to the joint economic empowerment program with Coca-Cola:
Ms. Catherine Kimuyu is the constituency Women Enterprise Fund officer for Machakos town constituency. She has held this position since August 2013 and her life has drastically changed since then.
The United Habit Farmers’ self-help group registered in 2012 and they deal with horticulture ranging from pawpaws, bananas, mangoes and vegetables.
She continues to explain that they decided to come together to pull up their individual local resources for joint investment and also to mobilize financial resources and get soft loans within the group at affordable amounts. According to WEF, an individual can qualify to borrow an amount from Kshs 50,000 to Kshs 2,000,000 while groups can start borrowing Kshs 100,000 up to 750,000. Any member in this group can borrow up to Kshs 100,000
The specific benefits/impact to the members includes:
- Moved 100% dependency to sharing family responsibilities and are now able to meet some basic needs even without relying on their husbands.
- Members can borrow soft loans to expand their individual farming activities
- Each woman has a bank account and have been taught how to save
- Created employment opportunities to farm attendants, institutions and several other community women who buy their products from them and sale to other retailers and consumers.
- The members have perfected the art of planting at their individual farms, where other several households are adopting the same practices and ready to learn from them.
- The women have also managed to equip their houses with decent furniture.
- Members are able to meet their costs of medication and education for the children in high schools and tertiary institutions.
According to Catherine, she says, “We are happy since Women Enterprise Fund has helped the United Farmers’ self-help group members to move from dependency to self-reliance, if the Fund could not have intervened in our situation, we may now be still dependents on our husbands’ unpredictable incomes; We are happy now that we have been assisted by Women Enterprise Fund and Coca-Cola to create sustainable incomes and has also helped the women be more confident in how they do business and how they handle their money from the financial literacy acquired thanks to Coca-Cola.