Women-empowered groups in Kilifi County have changed the lives of jobless and illiterate women for the better after getting reliable sources of income through basic training and sponsored projects by the government and organizations.
For many years, illiterate and married women in Kilifi have remained housewives as men became the sole breadwinners but the story is changing fast as hundreds of women who have joined various groups can earn a living hence improving their living standards.
Fifteen women who joined Bidii na Kazi group led by their Chairlady Amina Hamisi from Mida village in Kilifi did not attend school beyond the primary level.
Nevertheless, they have been enabled to afford their basic needs and even pay school fees for their children after starting a conservation project of mangroves where they sold and planted over 50,000 mangrove seedlings.
The group was later sponsored by Kenya National Museums and its partners to construct a restaurant along the mangrove bushes to conserve the eco-system as well as sell food to the tourists visiting the forest as they enjoy the serenity of the trees, birds, and the ocean.
“Our main source of income was selling mangrove seedlings but with the restaurant, we have money now. We are confident to visit the bank. When I go to withdraw cash, I just place a finger and take the money,” Miss Hamisi said during an interview with journalists.
The group chair also disclosed that during a high season of tourists, they make up to Sh20, 000 per day and make around Sh15, 000 every week during the low season.
She added that the group is using the money they make out of their business to give small loans ranging from Sh5, 000 to Sh15, 000 to their members to boost their small businesses as well as settle pressing issues such as school fees.
Since they were empowered, the group members said they have been enjoying their marriages because they have become helpful to their husbands in paying bills and bringing food on the table.
“Our lives were down. You know, we, in this job are not educated people but because of this project, the income earned here has lifted us. We are doing well, in fact, our husbands are proud of having a wife. We help each other,” said Sidi Baya, Bidii na Kazi group member.
The women have also embraced organic farming where they easily produce vegetables for sale, for daily consumption as well as for their restaurant.
A beekeeping group from Gede with 30 members received support of beehives and training from the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) which empowered the women to produce honey for sale, earning them income to buy food for their families.
Bush Beekeepers group led by Irene Kaingu has produced honey several times for sale, giving the members a source of income that has made their lives better.
“This project has helped us. We did not harvest much because of bad weather but we are thankful because we were able to help our families. It helped us in terms of money. When we got the money we bought food and paid fees for our children,” she said.
By Jackson Msanzu