Faith Mutheu is a single mother struggling to raise her 5-year old daughter Kate.Faith and Kate live in Pumuvani, one of the large slums in Nairobi, Kenya. Faith used to work as a casual worker in the industrial area near the slum. Work was not regular. She used to earn KES 100 (USD 1.30) per day for the hard work put in whenever she was hired. She could hardy find jobs 100 days in a year. After joining a SHG in April 2006 she started saving regularly. She saw her fellow group members taking loans and starting their own business. She said to herself that she had good cooking skills and that she could use these to earn a living. She first borrowed KES 1000 (USD 13) from the group and bought some utensils. She started cooking food in her home and selling them from her home. She was encouraged by the demand for her tasty food from neighbours.
Faith went ahead to put up a temporary kiosk by the roadside covered by plastic sheets. Business started picking up. She took a second loan and a third and has procured the basic needs for her kiosk. Business has picked up she says and has recently employed another woman to assist her. On a good day she earns a net profit of KES 400 to KES 500 (USD 5.20 to 6.50). When business is not so good, her profit sometimes dips to KES 200 (USD 2.60). She feels that even on those bad days, what she earns is much more than what she used to earn working as a casual labourer.
Faith’s daughter Kate attends a kindergarten. Her dream for Kate is that she will be well educated and live a good life. For her own self, Faith hopes that one day she will have a big, permanent restaurant in one of the busy streets of Nairobi making a lot of money.
“Increased income for a single mother”
Elizabeth Kanini is a single mother of two. She lives in Kitui village in Pumwani area, one of the large slums in Nairobi. Initially Kanini used to seek for work in the neighbouring East Leigh area as a part time domestic worker. This kind of work was however, not readily available. There were many days when she could not find any work. The amount of money she received as her daily pay ranged from KES 50 to 100. She was able to join Ngwate Niukile self-help group and secured a business loan of KES 1000. She used this money to start a food business and was able to repay the loan. Her youngest son Musa aged 5 years was able to join a nearby nursery school where Kanini pays school fess of KES 300 per month. Today Kanini doesn’t have to depend on casual jobs which were quite uncertain as she now has a regular income from her food business. She is now able to meet her daily basic needs like clothing, food and shelter and her child’s education. She underwent a soap/detergent making training and now is planning to buy the raw materials to start making soap for sale. She can attest that her life has changed for the better since joining the SHG.
“Shelter for a homeless woman”
In Kilifi, coastal Kenya, Jeza Zhomu SHG members came together to assist one of their own to build a house. The woman had returned back to her home area after been chased away by her husband from their matrimonial home. She had been homeless for sometime and had spent many nights out in the cold. After joining the SHG, she borrowed a loan which she used to construct the house with the help of other members. The SHG member’s house that was constructed
with the help of her group members.
“Girl assisted to get medical treatment”
Kutata SHG, one of the groups in Machakos, Kiima Kimwe area contributed KES 1,050 to assist their member, Mwikali Mutitu whose 17 year old daughter had developed a mental problem. The money including a loan, which was used to meet the medical costs of her daughter. Her daughter was enrolled for a dress-making course in a community based vocational centre. The condition kept her out of school for four months and so she was unable to graduate with the rest of her class last year. Fortunately she responded well to the treatment and has since resumed her schooling. She hopes to graduate later in the year.
“A woman’s life changed”
Sele Mwatu is a member of Kyeni Kya Muusini SHG in Kisiiki sub location in the new Yatta District. Sele can be described as one of the poorest SHG members amongst the groups in Kisiiki. For a long time Sele has struggled with poverty related problems like starvation and poor health. She has a grand daughter by the name Syombua Mwatu. Syombua’s parents passed away when she was a small girl leaving her under
the care of her old grandmother. Sele has continued offering the much-needed care and support to her grand-daughter despite her old age.
When the SHG approach was initiated in Kisiiki, Sele was among the first women to join the SHGs. She started meeting and saving regularly in her group and felt a great sense of acceptance and belonging as she interacted with her fellow SHG members. With time Sele qualified to get small loans from her group. At first she borrowed a loan with which she used to buy clothes for her granddaughter and pay school fees. Later on she accessed a loan to set up a small business to supplement the small-scale farming she was engaged in and so could take better care of her grand-daughter. The SHG members have been quite supportive and encouraging. Her health is improving gradually and Syombua is able to continue with her schooling comfortably. She confesses that if the idea of SHGs had been introduced when she was much younger, she probably would not be in the status she is today. She encourages both young and old to join hands in SHGs and work together to improve their standards of living.
“Help in a time of need”
Urumwe SHG in Nderu village in Limuru was formed in August 2007. One day after the group meeting, Jane a member of the SHG fell and broke her leg and could not walk. The members of the group rushed her to a nearby hospital and she was treated, bandaged and then discharged. Jane lives with her husband and two young children who are less than 4 years old. Due to the injury, Jane was immobilized and could not do much in the house. Her husband was a casual labourer and only returned home in the
evening. There was no-one to be with her and take care of the children when he was gone.
Her plight touched the members of her group and they decided to have some of the members look after her in rotation. They would come and cook for the children, fetch water, wash clothes, dishes and also take her out to get some sun-shine. In addition, they could collect her savings and take to the group and also advance her small loans to buy foodstuff when there was none. The group also organized visits where they took foodstuff and kept her company and this went on until she recovered. This greatly touched Jane’s life and together with the husband they came to express their gratitude to the group for all the help and support they had extended to her and the family.
Mia Moja area in Nanyuki – “Politicians borrow a leaf”
During the selection of CLA Representatives, SHG members were trained on the use of the 10-seed Participatory Appraisal method that ranks different candidates based on criteria. This method was well appreciated as being open and transparent and was recommended as a good way of electing leaders in different fronts.
The use of this method extended to the general elections in 2007 where one party in the area chose to use it during its party nominations. The potential candidates were rated based on the agreed upon criteria and they were able to concur on who was best to represent the party as a councilor in the general elections.
“Orphan assisted to get education”
Ruth Margaret is a young girl aged 15. She lost her mother in October 2006 after a short illness. Her mother was single and Ruth was the only child. At the time of her death, Ruth was in Class 7 and had to drop out of school since she did not have anyone to pay her school fees, buy the school uniforms, pay for tuition and provide for other required necessities as she was left in the care of her grandmother, Lisi Mbotela, who was quite poor.
Lisi Mbotela is a member of Ika Nesa Uyike SHG in Kitui which was started in August 2006. She has been an active member and has been attending meetings and saving regularly. Her savings stand at KES 750 from the KES 10 she saves weekly. In addition to taking care of Ruth, Lisi is also struggling to provide for her last born Kithingo Mbotela and Vaati who is a grand-child.
At the beginning of 2007, Lisi talked to Ruth and encouraged her to go back to school. She promised to provide for her education through small loans from the SHG (She can access loans of up to KES 3,000.) Now Ruth is in school and doing very well. Lisi is getting loans which she uses to care for Ruth’s education, access health services and meet other needs in the house. Lisi has started selling vegetables
and fruits in order to boost her income, support the family and repay the loans. The family is doing very well and is quite happy. Lisi is encouraged to save more in the group. Ruth’s future plan is to pursue her studies up to University level, get a good job and support her family.
“A problem shared is a problem solved”
Mwangaza SHG is one of the groups that were formed in Kiambio Slums in Pumwani area. One of the members of this group had a 2 year-old child who had retarded growth. At that age, the child had not started sitting or standing and had weak lower extremities. The mother was scared of the neighbours seeing her child and so she hid the child in the house. When another member in the group shared about her experiences with her disabled child who had since started walking, she was encouraged and opened
up to the group about her own plight and even started asking questions. She started allowing other members see her child and as a result the group assisted her to link up with some community rehabilitation workers. The child is currently under-going therapy. SHGs have played a big role in creating awareness about disability in this community.
“SHGs involved in Repair of Road”
SHGs in Mia Moja area in Nanyuki have joined hands together to contribute to their overall area development. Wiiguano, Bondeni and Wendo SHGs came together to rehabilitate a road that links them to a nearby town and which had been neglected for long. They mobilized other community members both men and women and set apart one weekend when they could work on the road. They met and drained waterways and cleared the bushes around. They worked tirelessly until the road was clear. After successfully accomplishing the task, the area councilor visited them and expressed his appreciation for the work that had been done. He promised the community members of future support in developing the area so long as they worked together as a team as they had done in this particular task. He further urged the members of the local Council to set aside more funds to rehabilitate the road fully. He assured them that the Community Constituency Development Members would prioritize this as one of the needs of the
“SHGs involvement in bringing peace after the post-election violence”
Bidii SHG is one of the SHGs in Mathare area in Nairobi. Mathare was one of the areas that was hard hit after skirmishes broke out after the general elections in late December 2007. This group together with others in the area worked with the various relief agencies during the relief efforts after the violence erupted and left many people injured and others displaced from their homes. The groups helped the agencies identify the most affected people in the community and were also involved in the distribution of relief supplies to these people. They also participated in the peace building and reconciliation activities.
In Limuru area, some camps for internally displaced people from some parts of Rift valley were opened. A number of SHGs from the area visited the camps often and donated food and clothing to the affected people.
“An SHG member promoted to an adult education teacher!”
Josephine Nzomo is a member of Taa SHG Nguumo village, Kithimani Sub-location in the new Yatta District. Before joining the SHGs, Josephine was living under desperate conditions and did not know what to do in order to meet the ever increasing and demanding needs of her family. The family was also in need of better shelter as their house was in a dilapidated condition. In trying to improve the worsening situation, Josephine had borrowed some iron sheets from her neighbour to roof her house. She however did not know where she would get iron sheets or money to pay back her neighbour. It was during this time of desperation that SHGs were introduced in her village. Fortunately, she was able to join Taa SHG (Taa means light). She started borrowing loans which she used to buy and refund the irons sheets. In three months’ time she was able to pay back the iron sheets. She then took out a loan which she used to buy two goats. To date, she has over 10 goats. Her children are able to get milk on daily basis from the goats. She sells the surplus to other community members and earns an additional income.
By good fortune and through her efforts of promoting literacy among her other SHG members, Josephine was identified to train and become an adult education teacher. She was employed by the department of adult education as a full-time teacher. Her students are mainly drawn from the SHGs in the area. From the salary she gets, she is able to provide for her children’s basic needs and is also able to pay for their education. Josephine is grateful to God and to those who introduced her to the SHG initiative as her life has now changed for the better.
“SHG group starts a day-care centre”
Mwamko wa Wamama (Rise up women) is an SHG group in Kiambiyu area in Pumwani. The group was started in June 2007 and has a total membership of 20 women. The group has been quite active and has started a day care centre in their community. The centre caters for working mothers who have no-where else to leave their children when they go out looking for casual labour or to run their businesses. The group charges a minimal fee to the parents of the children in order to cater for the running expenses of the centre. They also get donations from various well-wishers like the Karen Association in the form of food, scholastic materials etc. The centre has been of great help to the working mothers who sometimes formerly were unable to go out to look for work since they could not leave their children in the house unattended. A member of Mwamko wa Wamama attending to the children at the day care centre
“Let the children go to school…”
Loko Kilonzi, 34 is a member of Mbukilye Ngukilye SHG in Kiima Kimwe area in Machakos. Her husband has been jobless for sometime now. They have 3 young children. Two of her children were unable to access pre-primary education due to the family’s poor financial status. Her neighbour, a member of the same group informed other members that Loko’s children were not attending school althoug they were of school-going age. SHG members discussed this issue and resolved to encourage her
to take a loan to facilitate the education of her children. Loko was advanced a loan of KES 3,500. She used part of this money to take her two children to school and used the remaining part – KES 2,500 to start a vegetable business. Her children are now in school and her business is doing well and she is able to repay her loan as a result.
“CLA mobilizes a five-acre piece of land”
Ngwatanio CLA was formed in April 2007 in Kithimani area in Yatta district. After several meetings, the CLA members realized that they had a problem with their meeting venue which was under a tree. This meant that the members were exposed to rain and the hot sun. This problem was also experienced by the SHGs in the area. After long discussion, they decided to approach the local administration for assistance in identifying a public building which they could use as a meeting venue. The CLA members gave the responsibility to follow-up this need to the Development sub-committee of the CLA. After meeting with the assistant chief, they were informed that all the public buildings were occupied. The next option was to find a house that they could rent. This proved to be quite expensive for the CLA and so they decided to
go back to the administration to see whether there was anything they could do. They were informed that there was an idle public land in the area. The CLA approached the custodians of the public land and had discussions with them on the possibility of acquiring the land. The CLA members got a favourable response and were granted the land to put up an office, a meeting hall and any other activity they wanted
to do. The CLA further made a search in the Ministry of lands to find out whether the land was truly public land and they learnt that this was the case. To construct an office in the five-acre land, the CLA decided to mobilize resources locally. Each SHG decided to contribute KES 1,200. They would then mobilize other resources like sand, ballast, water and labour in order to reduce the cost of setting up the office. After a lot of hard work and effort the CLA now has an office and a meeting place of their own.
“Improved food security”
The name of the CLA is Uvuanyio and is composed of 13 Self Help groups. The CLA was formed on 4th June 2007 and is based in Kitui District. Based on food security, the CLA discovered that a lot cow-peas leaves were wasted during the rainy season. In order to preserve the leaves for use during the dry season, the CLA requested the promoting organization to link them with a person who could train them on how
to do the preservation. The linkage was done and the CLA members were trained on how to preserve the leaves and how to prepare the unripe pawpaw stew. Since then the SHG members have been drying the leaves, packing and preserving them for use during the dry season. They have also planted the pawpaw plant and are using the fruits to prepare stew. This has gone a long way in improving the food situation during the dry seasons.
‘Rehabilitation of shallow wells by SHGs’
Kyambiti area is located at Mulango location, Central division of Kitui District. The area experiences prolonged drought and lack of water is therefore a big challenge for the community. As a way of dealing with this challenge, the CLA facilitated the rehabilitation of some shallow wells that had broken down some years back and had long since been abandoned. The repair of the wells involved digging some extra pits in order to prevent the well from drying during the dry season as had happened before. The exercise also involved the repair of a water pump. The SHGs collaborated with a local organization to do this work. The SHGs gave their contribution in kind. The women are now happy that they can access water to meet their different household needs. The water is benefiting both SHG members and non-SHG members within the community.
“CLAs contribution to improved environment”
There area 3 CLAs in the project area of the Catholic Diocese of Machakos. i.e. Twone Mbee CLA (9 SHGs), Meko ma Aka CLA (8 SHGs) and Uka Umbithie CLA (8 SHGs). These CLAs have been working jointly in addressing common issues in their community. In one of their meetings, they discussed the issue of improving their environment through planting of trees. They approached their local councilor and requested him to link them to any organization that would assist the women get tree seedlings to plant. The Councilor shared with them about the Green Belt Movement and the Maendeleo ya Wanawake which is one of the leading women organizations’ in Kenya. The CLA members decided to send the members of the linkages sub-committee to visit the chairperson of the local branch of the Maendeleo ya Wanawake. Their visit was successful and the CLA were given 1,000 tree seedlings on the condition that they would plant and take care of them. The CLAs promised to do so and now they have planted some trees in the nearby market place, the health centre, some church compounds in their area and also in their homes. The CLAs are also encouraging their member SHGs to set up more tree nurseries in their village.
Burundi is a small country wedged between Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda in east-central Africa, Burundi occupies a high plateau divided by several deep valleys. The country with a population of around 8.7 million people has been ravaged by civil war between the Hutus and Tutsis for the last 15 years leaving more than 300,000 people dead. The Self Help Group approach was started in Burundi in the year 2006 among a people deeply scarred by the ravages of war. Here are some case studies:
In KABARORE, north Burundi, where “Eglise Baptiste Libre du Burundi” is implementing SHG-Approach, poor women in SHGs have come to understand that they have to support one another especially in difficult situations. Domithile MUKESHIMANA is one of Abasangirakiyago SHG members. Her house had collapsed due to heavy rain. Her fellow SHG members helped her to reconstruct a shelter. As individuals they brought the materials required for Domithile’s house and worked hard to construct it. The frame of the house is finished, there remains cover (roof and wall) only. The Self Help Group members pose for the photo in front of the house.
UCPD is a local NGO implementing SHG-Approach in the commune of Bukirasazi in Gitega, central Burundi. Destruction of environment (tree cutting) for fire wood is an issue. SHG members have been sensitized of the negative impact of cutting trees. Solar cookers were introduced to the groups and the groups are being trained to use solar cookers to preserve trees from being cut. The Community Facilitators help the women to produce this simple solar cooker. The technique is going to be expanded in the community to get more impact. Some SHG members watch as a solar cooker is being produced – in the picture.
Mugutu is located near Gitega city centre. Ecole de la Paix is implementing SHG-Approach in the area. Dufashanye SHG members started to buy and sell soaps in their community and found out the business was fruitful. Their Project Officer, Joselyne NIYONKESHA, learned soap making technique from another local NGO. She is now demonstrating the technique to SHG members to enable them to sell their own products in the community. The SHG members are very enthusiastic to produce soap since they already have a market for the soap.
Access to resources
Véronique YANDEREYE is a young married woman who used to live in extreme poverty. She had never owned any asset even in her married life. She joined a Self Help Group in her community and started saving regularly. She is so happy to have been able to purchase a piglet with a loan she got from her SHG. She is very confident that she can repay the loan with hard work. She also believes that this pig will multiply and that she will be “somebody” soon.
The Republic of Rwanda is a small landlocked country in the Great Lakes region of east-central
Africa, bordered by Uganda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Tanzania.
Home to approximately 10.1 million people, Rwanda supports the densest population in continental Africa, most of whom engage in subsistence agriculture. A verdant country of fertile and hilly terrain, the small republic bears the title “Land of a Thousand Hills”. The country has received considerable international attention on account of its 1994 genocide, in which around one million people were killed. In 2008, Rwanda became the first country in history to elect a national legislature in which
a majority of members were women. The Self Help group approach was introduced in Rwanda in the year 2002. The concept has taken deep roots in some of the communities. Here are some case studies:
SELF Help Groups promote economic empowerment
SHG members in Gicumbi district of the Northern Province of Rwanda have taken up wheat cultivation as a group activity. The picture shows members of a SHG harvesting wheat. They hope to harvest 3 tonnes of wheat. They expect a profit of approximately RWF 550,000 (USD 1,000). The market for the wheat is assured, locally. In fact they have cannot fully satisfy the market demand. Wheat is still imported. When asked why they chose to grow wheat as a group, Claudine had the following to say: “Wheat-growing, is the most profitable crop that has increased our incomes and reduced poverty levels among SHG members. We have been able to accomplish much. We have improved our houses, bought land, take good care of our children, and send them to school. The economic empowerment has enabled us women to improve our role in decision making within households. I love the Self Help Group Approach”.
Child rights (provision, protection, participation) continue to be a major consideration
in Self Help groups
26 Self Help Groups have been formed in the Rugerero sector, Rubavu district of the Western province of Rwanda. Many children in this area live under extreme conditions of poverty. They are malnourished, timid and have low self esteem. Many of them are orphans and quite a few live in Child – headed households, which are some of the outcomes of the genocide.
The women in the Self Help Groups want to take up children’s issues as their priority. Their engagement in saving & lending activities will enable them to carry out business and other Income Generating Activities that will improve the general wellbeing of the children. They want to make sure that every child is in school, can have at least 2 meals a day and also afford medical treatment.
Members of the SHGs want Children’s forums to be formed. This will ensure that each child will have a place to learn, play and carry out different activities that will benefit them. They will be taught their rights as children.
Disadvantaged children grow into self-sufficient adults
In 2006, the SHG approach was introduced to this group of young boys in their teens. The aim was to enable them grow into self-sufficient adults. Later that year, Abashyizehamwe Self Help group composed of 13 young members who are former street boys was formed. When we asked the difference SHG made in their lives they were confident to tell us that the achievements cannot be enumerated. “Our hope has been restored after many years on the street where life was characterized by poor hygiene and sanitation, poor diet (used to eat from Garbage cans), violence and lack of shelter. Most of us were orphaned by the 1994 war in Rwanda. Some of us have lost both parents and others have single parents”.
The group members were trained to produce bricks and tiles and to sell them. Today, they have acquired the skill and are able to make at least 300 bricks or tiles every day. They are able to earn between RWF 9,000 to 30,000 (USD 16 to 55) every day as a group of 13 boys. Part of the profit is used to buy clothes and food, and the rest is saved for future expansion of the business.
They have managed to build four houses for their SHG members. Their vision is to grow into wealthy and responsible fathers so that their children need not go to the street. They are encouraging their peers and other youth to join SHGs. They see it as a good solution to problems youth face in Rwanda.
The Kingdom of Swaziland is one of the worlds last remaining absolute monarchies. It is a landlocked
country in Southern Africa, bordered to the north, south, and west by South Africa, and to the east by Mozambique. The nation, as well as its people, are named after the 19th century king Mswati II. It is one of the smallest countries in the Southern hemisphere with a population of around a million people. Swaziland’s economy is dominated by agriculture and subsistence farming. Growth has been hampered by the effects of HIV and AIDS, the prevalence of which is the about the highest in the world. The Self Help group approach was introduced in the tear 2004. Here are some case studies:
Fast growing impact of SHG’s in the Highveld of Swaziland
EGEBENI: The Highveld of Swaziland is the hilly part of the country that receives a lot of rainfall. There is water flowing throughout the year. In this part of the country, “Women in Development” is one of the NGOs that have been promoting this approach.
Maize growing: The SHG approach has made life more meaningful for people where the approach is being promoted. Their savings are growing faster than those SHGs in the lowveld part of the country. There are many reasons that are influencing this: Food security is not a big issue here because maize production is relatively high because of the good rains. Even when the rainfall is not that good, the maize yield is at acceptable levels. Most of the SHG members have enough for themselves and are able to sell the surplus to the lowveld of the country at a very good price because of the high demand in that part of the country. That is why they don’t spend most of their money buying food but they think of other business opportunities.
Vegetable growing is very favorable in the Highveld of Swaziland. Vegetables have a very good market local and abroad. Most of the SHG members in this part of the country are very healthy because they have enough food to eat and surplus to sell. Some big farmers in this region even grow vegetables for markets in Europe. The SHG Coordination office is currently engaging the National Agriculture Marketing Board to help train SHG members to grow the same quality of vegetables that can be sold in Europe. They have agreed to do that and have already started buying vegetables grown by SHG members in their
small land for export to Europe
The SHG approach has tapped the sleeping potential of this rainy region of the country. Members have started various small enterprises to improve family income. Some women gather special grass to make brooms. This has proved to be a lucrative business for local women. They produce the brooms locally and then take them to Manzini town where they sell it and make good profit. The transport cost is relatively low when compared to the price they get for the brooms. They buy commodities that are scarce in the Highveld from town and take them back to sell to their neighbors.
SHG Member for Asikhutsale Bomake in the MANZINI region.