Entrepreneurs get a new lease of life amid Covid woes

Miriam Njeri Kariuki,

Miriam Njeri Kariuki, 24, outside her Karis Daughter Shop in Ole Kasasi.

Photo credit: Millicent Mwololo | Nation Media Group

 “My short-term goal is to retail cooking gas and introduce agency banking and M-Pesa services into my shop. But in the long-run, I would want to run a big enterprise and create jobs for my fellow youth.” These are the words of Mirriam Njeri Kariuki. Ms Kariuki owns Karis Daughter Shop in Ole Kasasi sub-County, Kajiado County.

At 24 years, Ms Kariuki would be like most of her age-mates, still figuring out what life has in store for her. Instead, she is aspiring to be this daring entrepreneur. In 2020, when Covid-19 hit the county, her green-grocer kiosk collapsed.

Ms Kariuki was contemplating going back upcountry when she met one of her customers who introduced her to the post-Covid recovery project implemented by Beacon of Hope in partnership with the Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) through the support of I&M Foundation. “She told me about the training and I felt like it was something that if I tried might uplift me,” she recollects.

In March 2021, Ms Kariuki enrolled for the training where she learnt about entrepreneurship. Armed with this knowledge, she received Sh6,000 seed capital and topped it up with some savings with which she started a shop and restocked her greengrocer kiosk, which had collapsed and also achieved her dream of opening a shop within the region.

Still repaying

She also became part of a savings group where she contributes Sh500 per week. Ms Kariuki has borrowed Sh5,000 from the savings group to boost her shop, which she is still repaying.

Still in Ole Kasasi, Caroline Auma Juma has reignited her fish vending business, which she had shut as curfew hours affected transport from Kisumu to Nairobi choking her stocks.

This saw her struggle to pay house rent and put food on the table for her two children and in the event, she exhausted the little savings that she had. “That is when the reality sank in that I needed to wake up and face life. In January 2021, she revived her fish business with borrowed stock,” says Ms Auma.

A month later, her friend informed her of the post-Covid recovery project by Beacon of Hope and she didn’t hesitate to join.  “I was trained on business continuity, managing business, finance planning and saving. I also received a Sh6,000 grant which I used to buy a sack of omena fish. It yielded returns on investment as I have managed to restock nile perch and tilapia fish.”

This is the renewed hope and the renewed spirit that the post-Covid recovery project by I&M Foundation, KCDF and Beacon of Hope has given to women and youth businesses in Ole Kasasi. The project has supported 150 families with a post-Covid recovery grant and trained on how to re-ignite their businesses.