What you need to know:
- A group of 10 women and two men came together to form 'Victorious Forever 14’ In 2014.
- Six years later, the Eldoret-based group has grown financially to become one of the most envied chamas in the region.
- The group specialises in rearing and selling chicken.
- Today, a member can get a loan of up to Sh100,000 payable in three months.
- One member even bought a taxi that operates in town, from the savings she made in the chama.
- They have set up a rescue centre and started to equip other safe centres to assist young girls and women facing gender-based violence in the region.
In 2014, a group of 10 women and two men came together to form ‘Victorious Forever 14’ a chama (investment group) to economically empower themselves.
Six years later, the Eldoret-based group is exclusively women, and has grown financially to become one of the most envied chamas in the region.
The members, who were once colleagues, opted to start the savings entity to supplement their income. Some of them were teachers while others worked for a local non-governmental organisation.
In 2015, the two men were ejected after defaulting on loans.
“This was our lowest moment and we almost broke up. We replaced them with interested women. We are now 12 members," says Margaret Alengwa, a member.
Apart from pooling their financial resources together, the group ventured into chicken rearing and ploughed back their returns for table-banking. Each member was tasked to rare 20 birds and eventually, they bought a piece of land for poultry farming.
Grace Kuria, another member, says they settled on chicken rearing because it requires limited space and there is a huge market for the birds.
“It is easy for a woman to rear chicken because many of us do not have control and ownership of large pieces of land. And that is what informed our decision to get into poultry farming,” she explains.
When the group began, the members used to access Sh5,000 to Sh10,000, but since they started engaging in poultry business, their savings went up and today, a member can get a loan of up to Sh100,000 payable in three months.
Bought a taxi
“When we started, most of our members lived in rental houses but today, many of us own homes. One member even bought a taxi that operates in town, from the savings she made in the chama,” says Ms Alengwa.
The group has since specialised in rearing and selling chicken. On average, they breed approximately 350 chickens at any given time. The members say it has not been an easy journey and they have surmounted a number of challenges including diseases that wipe out the birds and the high cost of feeds and vaccines.
“When we started the project, most of us didn’t know how to rear chicks. We, however, shared knowledge on feeds and vaccines. In cases where one loses her chicks, we allow them to delay loan repayment and support them with some chicks,” says Joyrine Lusaka, the group’s secretary.
Although they sell most of their eggs and chicken locally, they have also secured deals to supply some supermarkets.
In 2016, they started to support vulnerable women in the community by giving them free chicks to rear. So far, 1,500 women have benefited from the programme.
“Women fend for their families and chicken provides one of the cheapest source of proteins. They get eggs, meat and even manure to sell to other farmers,” says Ms Kuria.
So what is the secret of their success?
“It is discipline, sisterhood love, sacrifice and commitment. Whenever a member has a problem, we reach out. The group leadership is rotational to foster accountability and integrity,” says Nancy Kataka, another member.
She advises other women not to give up whenever they encounter challenges.
“Women should be risk takers. If you fail today, tomorrow you will pick up; every day is a learning process,” observes Ms Alengwa.
Last year, the chama was registered as G-Marc Community-Based Organisation (CBO), where they continue to distribute free chicks (rainbow rooster and kuroiler breeds) to vulnerable women in Uasin Gishu and Kakamega counties.
Some of the people they support include those living with disabilities, orphans, married women unable to cater for basic needs, and single mothers.
The Covid-19 pandemic, however, disrupted some sources of income for the group members.
“Two of our members are teachers in private schools and their source of income was affected by the abrupt closure of schools. They had difficulties making their contributions but we are supporting them to meet their daily needs,” she says.
Ms Alengwa adds that they plan to have their own hatchery to breed chicks in future. They have started scouting for a piece of land (to buy) and acquire incubators to enable them get chicks at an affordable price to satisfy the huge demand.
A beneficiary of the programme, Linet Musangi, says life has improved since she received 25 chicks through the organisation.
“Before I got the chicken, getting money to meet my basic needs was a struggle. Right now, I can sell chicken and eggs to feed my family,” says the mother of four, from Lower Kipchumba estate in Turbo Constituency.
In 2018, they started organising mentorship talks for girls who are exposed to early pregnancies and marriages. So far, they have reached at least 500 girls in the region.
“We realised there are issues girls cannot share with their parents or teachers, and that is where we step in. We hold talks and empower them on how to protect themselves and even become economically empowered,” says Ms Alengwa.
Has this project bore any fruits?
“We are happy there is a positive change. Some parents have appreciated it and even some keep asking us when we will host such events. We also see change in the behaviour of our girls,” she says.
The organisation has also set up a rescue centre and has started to equip other safe centres to assist young girls and women facing gender-based violence in the region.