What you need to know:
- Tima Women Group, Okwera Women Group and Stella Chariots Youth Group formed to uplift the socio-economic standards of their members.
- Got a boost after they embraced the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) that gives interest-free loans to venture into business and farming, a matter that has empowered them economically.
Women have benefited more; most youth groups not vibrant because many abandon them in pursuit of jobs in faraway towns and cities, leading to high defaulting rates.
Tima Women Group, Okwera Women Group and Stella Chariots Youth Group, are an indication that investment groups are going big, pooling their money to reap substantial benefits. The three were formed to uplift the socio-economic standards of their members.
The investment groups based in Uriri, Migori County, got a boost after they embraced the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF) that gives interest-free loans.
Tima and Stella Chariots have been borrowing from the government’s WEF to venture into business and farming, a matter that has empowered them economically.
Statistics by WEF, Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) and Uwezo Fund, show that there has been a low uptake of government loans by residents of Luo Nyanza, despite the funds being readily available.
In 2018, CS for Public Service and Gender Affairs Prof. Margaret Kobia and former YEDF chairperson Ronald Osumba, at a meeting in Kabondo Kasipul Constituency, challenged residents of Luo Nyanza to take advantage of the government loans to enable them improve their lives and businesses, just like Kenyans in other parts of the country.
Although officially registered by the Department of Social Services in 2006, Tima group operated as a village merry-go-round until 2009, when they realised “the power of coming together”, says Slaviah Ondigo the chairperson.
“An organisation trained us on road maintenance and soon afterwards, we got a tender to work on the Stella-Osogo- Nyabinga Road (8km) using hoes and spades. We were paid Sh140,000,” Ms Ondigo says.
It is also in 2009 that Tima received their first loan of Sh50,000 from WEF. They utilised it well and their loan limit grew. Currently, they are servicing a loan of Sh500,000.
Tima has also invested in farming – they grow maize, sukuma wiki, sugarcane, beans, watermelon and rear rabbits. Consequently, the group gets tenders to supply local schools with cereals and vegetables.
The members attest that their children are no longer sent home for non-payment of school fees because they can now afford to pay, and on time.
Among the schools the group supplies include, Rapogi High School, Uriri, Mukuyu, Konduru and Kamseke secondary schools.
“Even when schools delay to pay us, we still make deliveries to ensure students do not go hungry,” explains Slaviah, who went on early retirement from her teaching job, three years earlier to concentrate on Tima projects.
Emmanuel Edionyi and Wyclife Onyango who study Special Needs Education at Kenyatta University and Bio-systems at the University of Nairobi respectively, are among the students whose education have been supported by Tima.
“Tima has made my life in school smooth. Whenever I am home, I join the members to add knowledge where necessary,” Edionyi says.
Tima has also constructed rental houses and business premises in Stella Market.
Okwera Women Group, which was founded in 2011, breaks stones and sells gravel and bricks for construction work. This has created a reliable source of income for members.
“The decision to venture into this back-breaking business was the most brilliant because our village is rocky, making the commodity readily available,” Margaret Atieno, the chairperson of the group says.
Okwera started with six members as a ‘Hera Jikon’ (kitchen love) affair – where members contributed Sh30 per month to purchase kitchen stuff for one another on a rotational basis.
Today, the group has ten members, scaling their loan limit from Sh50,000, and now waiting for the confirmation of their Sh500,000 loan application at WEF.
Uriri WEF officer Lavine Amwayi, says groups like Okwera have lived up to the spirit of the fund, and will definitely receive the amount they have requested for.
Geoffrey Onamu of Stella Chariots Youth Group says their ten-member organisation, which was formed in 2018, has received a loan of Sh100,000 so far.
They have set up income generating businesses including M-Pesa shops and pool tables. The loan repayment, thus, is a non-issue to them.
Lavine says the application process for WEF loan is simple; it only requires a registration certificate by the Social Services Department (SSD) and an active bank account.
Members are then trained on table banking, record keeping, constitution drafting, generation of strong ideas, leadership, and how to create mission and vision statements.
Data from SSD and WEF of Uriri Sub-county shows there are 515 registered groups with 6,121 members who have benefited from Sh51,600,000 worth of State loans since 2008.
However, the data notes that women have benefited more.
“Most youth groups are not vibrant because many abandon their groups in pursuit of jobs in faraway towns and cities. This has equally led to high defaulting rates by the few youth groups who have received the funding,” says Night Otieno, an officer with the SSD in Uriri.