When 15 women from Sing’ore location in Keiyo North Sub County of Elgeyo Marakwet County decided to start the Sagong women group in 2010, their dream was to improve their homes through buying of utensils.
According to their chairlady Regina Kwambai, the women who were all farmers agreed to be giving Sh. 200 every month for their chama since this is what they could all afford.
“From the sh.200 we used to raise, sh.100 totaling to sh.1,500 would go to buy utensils for whoever was receiving the monthly contribution while the rest sh.1,500 would remain with the group for table banking,” she said.
However, all these changed in 2014 and they started dreaming big once they knew about the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) from another group which had benefited from the fund. The chairlady said the group’s officials went to the WEF offices in Iten and asked to be given the forms to apply for a loan.
“We thought we would just visit the offices apply for a loan and then wait for it to be processed, we were however told that before we apply and get the loan we needed to undergo some training on investment and management,” she said.
The members who have reduced to 10 are happy for the training by officers from WEF which they got free of charge before receiving the funds saying it has helped them move their group from one level to another.
In their first application, the group got sh.100, 000 which they used to invest in a poultry project. The chairlady says they bought day old improved kienyeji chicks and bought feeds which ensured that they matured within four months.
“We wanted to ensure that we sell the chicken soonest possible so that we can get funds to repay the loan,” the chairlady said.
After benefitting from the first loan, they went for a second where they got sh. 200,000 and bought 10 sheep with each of the member getting one sheep.
As they continued to see progress in their lives, their thirst for more loans grew and they applied for a third loan getting sh.350, 000. “We had seen there was a market for milk in this area therefore we bought two heifers,” the chair lady said.
Bearing in mind the high cost of livestock feeds, the group bought a machine to prepare feeds in order to produce enough milk to meet the demands of the market. They also bought a motor bike which 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 another sh.500, 000 loan and added a poshomill to their projects.
“We also realized that we were being forced to go all the way to Iten town to access Mpesa services and having grown in business, we frequently needed the services and so we set up an Mpesa shop,” said Mrs. Kwambai.
From the proceeds of these businesses, they bought another motor bike to aid in the supply of milk in addition to buying two power saws although unfortunately one of them was stolen.
In a bid to further diversify their businesses, the group leased a plot where they planted potatoes which do well in the area and take only three months to mature.
As the milk business continued to grow, they started also buying milk from other farmers which they would sell in Iten town. They realized that the two motor bikes were not enough and so they took another loan of sh.750, 000 and bought a probox which would take more milk.
Mrs. Kwambai said after they bought the probox, they heard that there was a private school in Iten which had floated a tender for transporting their pupils to and from school which they applied and won.
“The probox takes the children to school in the morning then comes back to supply the milk during the day before going to pick them again in the evening,” she said.
The chairlady said from all their businesses they raise approximately sh.500, 000 every month which has enabled them to access easy loans to take their children to school and meet their other financial obligations.
This has enabled them to provide employment to the youth to operate the boda bodas, the Mpesa shop and also the posho mill.
Frankline Kiptoo is one such youth who is also one of the members of the group. Kiptoo who is married is able to take care of his family. He says he was attracted to the group because of their seriousness which he said is absent from most youth groups.
“I am happy because apart from advancing economically, I also benefit from their advice and wisdom from the women,” he said.
Rose Kimaiyo one of the members, says now each member of the group has chicken, sheep and a cow which has enabled them to become self-reliant.
“The group has helped us not only to meet our financial needs but also our health needs because our families can get a balanced diet from our products,” she said.
The group is now targeting to apply for sh.1 million as they plan to purchase a plot and construct rental houses. They are urging women to go for the loans and ensure they repay to develop themselves.
The fund also provides loans to individual women owning enterprises and women owned enterprises to finance Local purchase orders (LPO) at 60 per cent of the total amount and also for bid/bond financing to a maximum of sh.2 million.
By Alice Wanjiru