Shops selling snacks like chapatti and mandazi, women selling vegetables from a stand, and children selling mangos from a tree outside their house outline the dirt roads in the village. Although the economy appears to be thriving by the numerous businesses, the average income of a family in the Village of Kano is less than $2 per day.
Meshack Omollo, Maisha’s Household Empowerment coordinator said, “The percentage of people who are employed is very low. Even those who are employed are not even being paid well… generally, the economic status of this community is very low and very poor.”
Maisha’s goal is to empower people to change their communities. Recently, the Small Business Loan Project was born in an effort to break the cycle of poverty within the community.
Omollo said the community is in need of an empowerment program to come along-side parents and allow them to provide for their children.
“You realize most of the parents are not doing anything. They depend on the casual jobs around. We thought there is need for this empowerment so the caregivers, especially, the women can at least start a business to support their kids, whereby, they can even buy basic needs like food,” he said.
Caregivers and community members are able to present their business ideas to a “panel” of judges who then decide if their proposal is investment worthy. If the idea is approved, the business owner is provided with essentials. The business owners are not given cash, but instead, given supplies.
“If someone needs a loan of 50,000, he or she will list down the kind of products they will sell. Then, we will go with him or her to the market where we can get them at a lower price. Then, we deliver these goods to them,” Omollo said.
The business owners are expected to pay back their loan to Maisha within 12 months and are not charged interest. When the loan is paid back, the money goes back into the program to help with future small business loans. The project allows the business owners to make a profit while paying back their loan, and once the loan is paid off, the profit they make goes directly to their family.
Omollo believes the Small Business Loan project will help be vital in shaping the community’s future. The project will engage parents, teach them how to make an income, and show them how to become self-reliant.
“If we don’t really support this community, I’m sure they will depend on Maisha for the rest of their lives.”
To learn more about the Maisha’s Empowerment Projects, visit https://www.maishaproject.org/projects/economic-empowerment/.