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Table banking influence on women empowerment in Nambale

While table banking remains underrated due to numerous challenges ranging from fraud and insecurity, women in Nambale constituency have mastered the unique art of informal investment and are taking advantage of group-banking system for agribusiness as an economic empowerment tool to boost family incomes.

Over 1000 women from Bukhayo East and Bukhayo Central have taken the bull by the horns in their fight against poverty and illiteracy through group table banking which was started five years ago with the help of a well-wisher Geoffrey Mulanya.

Akakwao Sikalaka and Kalinyola women investment group started in 2017 with the objective of empowering society by alleviating poverty and improving livelihoods.

Speaking to the press, Floria Chalengi, the chairlady of the group and the founder of Akakwao Sikalaka group attributed the formation of the group to several financial constraints that women in Nambale face.

“We formed this group with the aim of uplifting one another financially and preventing the temptation to dispose of land to cater for emergencies like funerals, school fees and hospital bills,” said Floria.

The group applauded Nambale constituency aspiring MP Geoffrey Mulanya for embracing the concept of table banking.  They noted that their lives have improved exponentially because of the savings and investment programme.

“The donor Mulanya gave Sh30, 000 to two of our groups as initial capital. This amount has helped many women borrow money at an affordable interest to cater for their various needs like paying school fees for their children,” added Floria.

Her sentiments were echoed by Catherine Chimwani, the patron of Kalinyola women group who added that women no longer rely on their husbands for survival, adding that they have grown to complement their husbands,’ efforts in providing for their families.

Mrs. Chimwani cited poor leadership and lack of knowhow in financial management as some of the challenges the group faces, and appealed to leaders to provide more financial grants and training to the women from the leaders for sustainable development.

“Women entrepreneurship in society is critical towards economic development. However, women still encounter many challenges in their quest to start or expand their businesses through acquisition of credit from formal financial institutions. As a result, most women have resorted to table banking groups as they are able to access affordable credit and other services that are crucial for the sustenance of their businesses,” she added.

According to a research study carried out in 2014 on women empowerment via micro-finance lending in Rongai sub-county of Nakuru, the researchers identified four constructs that can be used to conceptualize the role of table banking. These are table banking financing, membership power, organizational learning and networking power. These constructs were examined to understand the extent to which they affected empowerment of women.

Agreeing with Floria, Difina Taaka, a beneficiary of Sikalaka group elucidated how she had benefitted following her father’s death, adding that the group took care of most of the funeral expenses for her late father.

“I am a proud and grateful member of this group for standing with me during my low moments. I encourage more women to join us for prosperity,” said Taaka, adding that poverty levels among members have exponentially reduced.

Ann Nabwire Oundo lauded the investment group for empowering her financially since joining.

Many women’s lives have changed for the better, with every member buying at least one dairy cow per family. The group has also built houses for many widows and paid school fees for less fortunate members.

“When women succeed, their families and communities succeed too. But when they aren’t equipped to fulfill their potential, societies lose out on the tremendous economic value women create,” Oundo said.

She added that some husbands are able to pay pending dowry courtesy of the investment group. Oundo showered praise on the group’s chair Floria Chalengi for her singular commitment to ensuring that women’s lives in the area change for the better.

Women play vital roles in our communities. Unfortunately, they are also responsible for work that is overlooked and devalued. In addition, women face challenges accessing vital business support like finance, training, and markets.

This limits their ability to develop the skills and find the resources they need to build stronger, more sustainable futures.

Busia being among the poorest counties in Kenya with minimal investments, three-quarters of those under 35 do not have jobs. Poverty and low education levels have left over two hundred thousand youths unemployed with statistics indicating women are five times more likely to struggle to find work than men.

Akakwao Sikalaka and Kalinyola are Luhya words that connote preparedness for unexpected emergencies. Bukhayo East women are committed to ensuring that every woman is ready for any eventuality especially in these tough economic times.

Most of the current leaders, however, lack this trait hence the reason for poor delivery of services and representation of Wanjiku. Cases of misappropriation of funds have been rampant among leaders who are more interested in selfish gains rather than service. This has led to an increase in the unemployment rate, leaving many young people unemployed and living a life of destitution.

By Absalom Namwalo 

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