A4. Table-banking in rural Kenya

Context

Nyakinyua village Nyakinyua village is an area located 7 km from Molo Town in Kuresoi Constituency, Nakuru County. The area is purely agricultural with over 98% of the people being subsistence farmers. Land parcels have continued to get smaller and smaller as families subdivide the land and pass it down to their children.  Average land sizes were 1.4 acre (0.4 ha) initially, and this has continually reduced with even smaller pieces of land that can only accommodate a 3-room house.  This has led to over-reliance on the small pieces of land and further afield forest products for survival among many men and youths, leaving many people living below poverty line and just getting by. There is need to diversify, but this is not possible without the options of borrowing money to invest, as is possible with other “bankable citizens.” Due to climate change the community is increasingly facing unpredictable weather patterns further deteriorating the environment they live in and their livelihoods, making it even more difficult when they have to rely on food crops alone for their survival. The challenges for Nyakinyua are many and include lack of governmental support, limited contact with people outside the village, rain fed agriculture only with no equipment or fertilisers, clashes between ethnical groups at the time of the previous election in 2007 and HIV/AIDS. The life in Nyakinyua is based on the cultivation of potatoes, peas, beans, cabbage at small land lots and collection of firewood. The village is faced with many orphans who do not attend school, young people who do not start families and alcohol abuse.

Our partner

Amani Women Group (AWG) is a Community Based Organization based in Nyakinyua, Molo. Amani Women Grouo was established in 1995, as a seller group for pyrethrum crop, a cash crop grown in Molo up to the late 90s. The group was destabilized after Post-Election Violence that occurred in Kenya in 2008 and Molo was heavily affected. The destruction and deaths in the area caused many people to move out of the village. The group seeks to enhance their livelihoods by coming together, saving a few dollars each week to create some funds they can use to borrow and lend for their economic empowerment. At the initial stages, fifteen people (10 women and 5 men) came together and saved an equal amount each month. Mama Ciru was elected President for the group.

2012.1 344

Cecilia and Mama Ciru, President and Founder of Amani Women Group, in Nyakinyua (photo HR&S).

Table banking

Table banking is a concept that has gained popularity in the recent past in Kenya. The aim of this kind of banking is to enhance the socio-economic status of citizens, particularly those from poor areas of the country that are “unbankable”. Poverty has been an issue in less developed areas partly due to the high interest rate that is imposed on the loans by financial institutions and the demand for collateral, without which most people cannot access loans. Economic disempowerment not only affects development of the affected areas but the cyclic nature of poverty, which then means that people are not able to get out of the situation they are in. This continues to affect their livelihoods and importantly education of the young people. 

Most table banking initiatives begin as “merry go rounds” and it is mainly women who are involved. A merry go round means women come together, contribute an amount of money per month or week, and then the amount is given to one person for the month. The next time a different person gets an equivalent. This continues until the last person’s turn comes and he/she gets the same amount. The underside of this is that one cannot get big sums of money to revamp a business, but mainly for household items or food and occasionally school fees. If the merry go round takes a year, a member still gets the same amount. Table banking takes this a notch higher. If well organised, families benefit enormously. The group meets together, they build and enjoy social capital, they share in their issues and participate in decision making, and they cultivate the culture of savings and are then able to take small loans which then enable them to sort out issues like school fees, buy inputs for their shambas (land) and even start small businesses. The main aim being to support their families and reduce dependence on handouts.

START-UP

The initiative was developed as a result of various discussions by members of Amani Women Group. The initial membership for this specific initiative is 15 members. This number may increase with time as per the by-laws. New members will be admitted only following the agreement of the entire group. The members have agreed to make a contribution of Kshs 500 per month contributed weekly at an average of Kshs 120 (1.2 USD), or Kshs 20 per day. This is to ensure that those who make wages of Kshs 200 per day for six days a week are able to save 10% of their wages. Once a member has contributed for an agreed length of time, e.g. 4 months, she may ask for a loan. This must be approved by the entire group and the committee. The loan may be a long-term loan or a short-term loan. The group determines the rate of interest that must be paid and for the short term, payable three months, this is 10%.
Each person will have a passbook in which their contributions will be recorded each week. The collections are made each week to ensure that there is consistency in payment. The money will be held in a bank account in the name of the group. A committee of five has been elected to support the initiative’s administrative affairs. Other details will be in the groups by-laws. The group will be supported to develop the by-laws by Livelihood Improvement Programme (LIP).  It is expected that in the first year, individuals will make small improvements in their livelihoods at family level. After the second year, the group will then be exposed to different ventures in investment. The period is to ensure the group gels and dynamics are dealt with. Specific group livelihood improvement initiatives will then be discussed and agreed on. Simple technologies that have been piloted elsewhere and that can make livelihoods better will be promoted.
The group has agreed on a common vision in Swahili – Najijenga Twajijenga, Kuboresha familia (approximate translation: Developing yourself; Developing us; Improving our families).

AWEYS

Two groups have been active, the Amani women group and the Environmental Youth Soldiers (EYS).  In 2012, the two groups came together under a memorandum of understanding and formed an umbrella called AWEYS (Amani Women Group and Environmental Youth Soldiers) to initiate small enterprises that can bring revenue and at the same time conserve the environment.

The AWEYS group have from 2013 leased half an acre of land with the plan of ploughing it, planting and selling the product with a view to putting together funds enough to purchase their own piece of land.

 

Mama Shiru at EU meeting 1

Mama Ciru, President and Founder of Amani Women Group, in a meeting with a donor (photo HR&S).

Makiga blocks

The land in Nyakinyua is productive but the income is still quite low for the traditional farmers. In 2013, AWEYS acquired a Makiga block equipment (for making house construction blocks). The idea is to construct an office using the soil blocks, to be used as a demonstration and also a resource room. The idea is to also start a social business by selling such Maiga blocks. The AWEYS also keep 20-30 dairy animals, which were procured from the community trust fund in 2014. Once the dairy animals calve the calves are passed down to the group members for individual ownership. The returns from the AWEYS groups’ animals shall go into the group account.

Green house

The AWEYS group aimed to acquire a green house in which they will plant high value crops such as tomatoes and other vegetables. The AWEYS group does not have land of its own and relies on voluntary lease of land from group members, it will be difficult to invest in a green-house property. Thus they have agreed that they need to buy some communal land where these activities can be carried out. With this, it will be possible to sustain activities and move on to value addition of their own produce on their own property.

PARTNERSHIP

The collaboration with HR&S Action10 was initiated in 2011.

The ambition is to facilitate for villagers to have access to loans for their businesses by supporting the structure already established with more funds, so that they can increase the size of the loans.

In total Euro 4,000 has ben invested.

Vision

The vision is a Kenya in peace. No clashes occurring between ethnic groups and no armed conflicts take place with foreign countries. That the Kenyan people believe in themselves, they have self-confidence and are aware of their talents. Development projects are successful. Everyone in Kenya have access to high quality water, sufficient energy and good sanitation facilities. Adaptation to climate change is properly made.  The environment is clean and well kept. Old people are well taken care of. All children live comfortably and are provided good education. Women and men have equal rights and responsibilities.

Targeted impact

The targeted impact of the programme is that Community Development Organisations can always generate sufficient money for new investments. People have access to good employment so that they can fully support their families.

Table banking concept

Table banking is a concept that has gained popularity in the recent past in Kenya. The aim of this kind of banking is to enhance the socio-economic status of citizens, particularly those from poor areas of the country that are “unbankable”. Poverty has been an issue in less developed areas partly due to the high interest rate that is imposed on the loans by financial institutions and the demand for collateral without which most people cannot access loans. Economic disempowerment not only affects development of the affected areas but the cyclic nature of poverty, which then means that people are not able to get out of the situation they are in. This continues to affect their livelihoods and importantly education of the young people. 

Most table banking initiatives begin as “merry go rounds” and it is mainly women who are involved. A merry go round means women come together, contribute an amount of money per month or week, and then the amount is given to one person for the month. The next time a different person gets an equivalent. This continues until the last person’s turn comes and he/she gets the same amount. The underside of this is that one cannot get big sums of money to revamp a business, but mainly for household items or food and occasionally school fees. If the merry go round takes a year, a member still gets the same amount. Table banking takes this a notch higher. If well organised, families benefit enormously. The group meets together, they build and enjoy social capital, they share in their issues and participate in decision making, and they cultivate the culture of savings and are then able to take small loans which then enable them to sort out issues like school fees, buy inputs for their shambas (land) and even start small businesses. The main aim being to support their families and reduce dependence on handouts.

Programme idea

Green-house

The discussions between Action10 LIP and the AWEYS group on site in the village resulted in a draft activity plan:

  1. A land will be acquired through a joint financial contribution from the Nyakinyua inhabitants and Action10. Action10 contributes with 2,000 Euro, as a loan to Nyakinyua. Each plot size is around half an acre and cost 200 000 Kenya shilling (€ 1,700).
  2. An LIP Action10 account is opened in Nairobi, where the funds can be transferred and kept.
  3. A greenhouse is set up at the land and dairy cattle are introduced and are kept.
  4. The loan is paid back with 10 % interest to LIP as soon as possible, and shall be reinvested. The 10 % goes to LIP. 
  5. Trainings are provided if requested, on issues identified by the TPs.

The AWEYS TP group offers to bring together youths and women to work on the farm.

Table banking

The initiative was developed as a result of various discussions by members of Amani Women Group. The initial membership for this specific initiative is 15 members. This number may increase with time as per the by-laws. New members will be admitted only following the agreement of the entire group. The members have agreed to make a contribution of Kshs 500 per month contributed weekly at an average of Kshs 120 (1.2 USD), or Kshs 20 per day. This is to ensure that those who make wages of Kshs 200 per day for six days a week are able to save 10% of their wages. Once a member has contributed for an agreed length of time, e.g. 4 months, she may ask for a loan. This must be approved by the entire group and the committee. The loan may be a long-term loan or a short-term loan. The group determines the rate of interest that must be paid and for the short term, payable three months, this is 10%.

Each person will have a passbook in which their contributions will be recorded each week. The collections are made each week to ensure that there is consistency in payment. The money will be held in a bank account in the name of the group. A committee of five has been elected to support the initiative’s administrative affairs. Other details will be in the groups by-laws. The group will be supported to develop the by-laws by Livelihood Improvement Programme (LIP).  It is expected that in the first year, individuals will make small improvements in their livelihoods at family level. After the second year, the group will then be exposed to different ventures in investment. The period is to ensure the group gels and dynamics are dealt with. Specific group livelihood improvement initiatives will then be discussed and agreed on. Simple technologies that have been piloted elsewhere and that can make livelihoods better will be promoted.

The Amani Women group are requesting for table top up of Euro 2,000 to boost the initial seed capital and accelerate growth. This will be repayable from the 36th month once the group has generated enough through savings and interest from loans, its own capital to sustain the initiative. The initiative will employ different strategies to realise its vision.

The group has agreed on a common vision in Swahili – Najijenga Twajijenga, Kuboresha familia (approximate translation: Developing yourself; Developing us; Improving our families).

SURVEYS

Outcome

Mobilisation

Community members have been mobilised and paid up their individual weekly contributions.
Develop by-laws: A smaller group will agree on better bylaws and internalise the common vision. Once this is accomplished then new members may come on board.

Capacity Enhancement 

This will be undertaken as dialogues within the group.
Finance management – Use of tools developed by Action10

Social Capital Strengthening

Social Capital Strengthening: The table banking initiative will strive to build a set of norms and a strong group that will promote trust and cooperation among the membership. This will focus on the social network between the members and the character of the group. The stable relationship is in turn expected to promote the constitution of social actors that can make a difference in the village through building of trust and reciprocity for those in the group and bystanders as well. The initiative will also provide /create a forum for thoughtful and reflective dialogues.

Borrowing

The group members will be allowed to borrow and pay the amount lent in installments; Group members of five will form the collateral for the borrower through peer pressure and social sanctions.  The money will be used as per the request of the borrower. It is expected that initially it may be used to add an egg-laying chicken to their flock, buy sheep or a dairy animal, pay school fees, buy farm inputs, etc. But as each month goes by, the pot will compound, the size of loan will grow and the projects will become more impressive. 
The seed money/top up requested will be paid for from the 36th month, this will enable the group to have an equivalent of the same from their savings to support their table banking.

Monitoring

The group will meet regularly, at least once every month, in order to keep in touch with each other, (first six months); hear news of the members’ projects and to make decisions about loans and possible new members (going forward).
To monitor the progress, effectiveness and relevance of the initiative, monthly Activity Progress Update will be provided to the support office by the committee. The support will send a quarterly report to Action10 and also share any other information that may be relevant to Action10’s activities and that may support other organizations supported by Action10.
Both quantitative and qualitative aspects will be monitored providing information and allowing for timely adjustment/adaptation of action when necessary. The group as mentioned earlier will meet monthly and for longer every six months to undertake an internal reflection.

Sustainable economy

As a medium term plan the AWEYS group aims at:

  • Producing yoghurt and fruit jam
  • Bottle Nyakinyua water for sale in the county of Nakuru.
  • Demonstration for organic farming and eco-sanitation.
  • Develop a resource centre on the land where children can attend evening classes and get tuition from older students, with an aim of improving education standards in the village. Fortunately there will be electricity in the near future and this can be done in the evenings and weekends.
  • Have a tailoring class course for young people that are interested in tailoring and dressmaking, to diversify on the enterprises opportunities.

Testimonies – 2018

Cecilia ÖMAN met with our Programme partner Livelihood Improvement Programme (LIP) in Nairobi and discussed ROPE.

Interview with Eunice Njeri Njenga, treasurer

Tell me a little bit about yourself? I am Eunice Njeri Njenga.

How old are you? I am 62 years old.

Do you have a family? I have five grown up daughters and one son. The daughters have husbands. It is only me and my husband in our home now.

Can you tell me what your life looks like? I came here to Nyakinyua in 1992. I was teaching in Baringo district before. I shifted to Nakuru in 1992. I stayed for about 23 years in the same school and then I retired in 2015 in July. Now I am just doing farming and staying at home. I grow potatoes and maize for food and to sell.

How did you hear about the table banking initiative? We have a group who brought it to us. They are called Nekofa. They started table banking here. They told women to come together and then we started. Later another group came. They are called women federation. They also have a group here for table banking.

What do you think about the table banking initiative? It is so helpful to women. They need money and they get money. They pay with interest and after you have payed everything back you get a new loan. Then you may go to the shamba, develop your shamba, you can buy a dairy cow and then keep a dairy cow or do another development you need. Some even build houses. They build a house and later they buy a cow. Later they buy a piece of land. It is so helpful to women.

Since you joined the table banking initiative, has anything changed for you? Yes it has. Because the life I had before is not the life I have today. I can work easily in the shamba with people. When I need money I go and get a loan on 10 000 ksh and it will help me on the shamba. After harvesting I get a lot more money than before I could have the loan. The shamba we share will help me because you have some people to help you. Look at these people working today. If it is just one person that one could not be able to finish today. It will take perhaps three months, but if they are many it will just take a day. And the crop will do well. So with the table banking this is what we do. We get money, a loan, we put people in the shamba and they work one day. After harvesting you can see what you got and you pay the loan. And then you are left with money to help yourself.

Before the table banking initiative, what was your major challenge? The biggest problem was how to get money. You need the money and you can’t get it from anywhere. So you stay with your problems. For some people, their children could not go to school. But today every mother will take her child to school. Because she know she can get 10 000 ksh to give the teacher and the child can go to school. Today they are doing a lot of work, women. Even their children. They are helping their children. No child who you can see today have comfort in their home if the mother is not a member of any table banking group. But if a mother is a member in a table banking group they look after their children very well.

Do you have dreams of your own or hopes for the future? I would like to achieve many things. Better living than today. A life where I will be living a comfortable life.

What is a better life for you? Where I can get the money, develop and then have my own dairy cow where that will produce milk. And then I can depend on that milk rather than what comes from the shamba.

Is one cow enough to sustain your livelihood? You need one or two. Feeding is a problem. You need two and if they feed well they will produce enough milk. Today milk is so expensive. They are selling at 50 ksh per litre. If you have one cow which will produce daily, in the morning, 20 litres. You can see how much that will generate. That can change your life completely.

What is your role in the table banking group? I am the treasurer. My responsibility is to collect the money and take it to the bank. After collecting we have the names of all who have paid and then the chair lady, the secretary and me take the money to the bank. After taking money to the bank we bring back the receipt to the members. When we meet they see, “here is your money”. They can always see how much money there is. It goes round to the members and we ask if they are satisfied, the money is in the bank. We will work for this year, 2017, and after this year we will see how far we have come and what the next step will be. We will have a special meeting at the end of the year where we will sit down and have the receipt of the money on the account and the members will decide themselves. Individually we can´t decide. Members will decide together and then tell us.

Interview with Jesse Njugua, assistant secretary

Please tell me a little bit about yourself. My name is Jesse Njuguna and I work as farmer. And I am a driver. I drive the motorcycle. When I am not driving I am in the shamba. I grow potatoes and maize.

Have you bought your own shamba? No, I rent my shamba. The shamba is one acre and a half. It costs almost 22 000 shillings.

Do you have a family? Yes I do have a family, one wife and two daughters. One is one year and the second born two years. The first one’s name is Susan and the other one is Beth. And my wife’s name is Lucy. She is also in the table banking group.

Can you describe your life today? Life is not easy, I am struggling. Today makes our future. I am struggling to make my two daughters that they will go to school. I am struggling to afford that. And I am thinking how my life with farming will be better. To make it better is this. Now is the house I am living in for rent. I don’t have my permanent place. Even the shamba is for rent. I am just like a guest in my country. I want to own my house and own my shamba, and if god bless, I would like to have a proper business in the city. I am farming and I am driving, working with both to get better. When I am not on the road I work on the shamba.

You are in the table banking group, so you also have the shamba together with the group? Yes. We have one with the group. When members visit the shamba we are together and work on the shamba. Every member know what to do.

Why do you like the table banking initiative? It is interesting because you know, I as a person, there are things that I can’t do alone. An example is this, in Kenya now, if you would want to borrow money you must have a group. That is why we sit and talk together. It is better for us to contribute some money and do table banking. It is better because a shamba in Kenya costs half a million. I can’t buy it alone. By the time we put money in the bank, later we can buy a shamba and pay with interest. When you are together we can do much. When you are alone you can’t.

How did you find out about the initiative? We have our chair lady, she told us. She said she had a dream, we were working with her. We were stressed in the shamba. If she needed some people for her shamba she could call me and tell me to look for some people to work on her shamba. And then I pay them and go home. When we were in shamba daily she told me, for now, to buy a plot is difficult, because you are alone. But if we can do something together, save 10, 15 or 20 we can take the money to the bank. One can borrow some money and buy a plot. She told me that. For now things are difficult, we should join together. I saw it was better so I joined her and we looked for more members. And when we looked for more members we wanted serious members. As you can see, many are youths. And followed the advice and we are sure that we will see the fruit of the advice.

Has the table banking initiative in any way changed your life? Yes, it has. It has changed my life. Before when I got my money I would spend it. I had no vision. When I got the 200 shillings I spent it and was left with no money. But when the idea came I saw it was better and I saw that I was using money. But from that idea I listened to them and I take something from them and put it in my mind. So from that day if I got 200 I try the best, even if I spend 150, I make sure I have my own 50 shilling saved for me. Before we started this I had no motorbike. Now I have it. I have been able to buy it because I have saved money. Before I had just half an acre. No I have one and a half acre shamba. Before it was difficult with my family. But now I am trying. My first born girl was at school, and was sent home to get money but now it’s not that way. Now I can pay school fees.

You also save money yourself, and with that money you have been able to improve things in your life?

By the time they gave us the idea to save I started saving for myself. Apart from the saved 20 shillings for the group I saved myself 50 shillings. I added my own saving. That is per month 1500 shillings. The school fee for my girl is 2300 shillings. It is no longer difficult for me to pay school fees. These 20 shillings is not difficult for me to pay. If I get 200 per day, I try the best to save for me and the group. If you see when we are paying I am the first one to pay, because I have money. It came to me and I feel it is good. I can see it changed it my life. And I hope it will change the life of other members.

How old are you? I am 32 years old. You know people in this area we live.  People are not well learned. We get ideas from others. If we like to perform well, don’t look at the failures, look at the ones who perform well. In my life I would like to stay with people who has performed well. Those who has failed, I don’t hate them, still I love them, but in ideas I don’t share with them. I want to share with those whom have done well. That’s what I came to decide. When we started I didn’t notice. When you are there and you stay with other people with no ideas you get nowhere. But if you live with people who has ideas you will go far. If not you will do farming, but not as a business, just to live. Now I am farming for food and for business. I can sell a bag of potatoes to others so I can get cash.

If we think of the table banking group, you have saved for a year. Do you have ideas what to do next with the group?  When we are sitting down and sharing ideas, I said, we can get one more acre of a shamba. That would be better. For now to lend shamba is much money. It costs 10 000. But if it is ours those 10 000 will remain with the members. So if we can start farming professionally. Even if we continue farming we can buy cows. It can bring much money. We can make a better greenhouse. We can grow potatoes in the greenhouse. We can grow other things in the greenhouse. Even if it is farming we will start professionally. Better than now. Now we get 10 000, we improve it to 100 000. If we have capital we can do more. That is why we saved for the group. The way we started it we wanted to get better.

What are you most proud of with the group? I am proud because with the members we were not friends. Now we are friends. Now we can sit down together and share ideas and what we think about the group. Everyone was thinking about themselves. But for now when we sit down we share and we are together, we share ideas. I am proud to be a member of Amani women group.

Interview with Eliud NBogo, vice chair

Tell me a little bit about yourself. I am Eliud NBogo, I am 32 years. I have one wife. I have two kids. Eunice and Jane, two girls. Eunice is ten and Jane is five. Eunice and Jane are both in school, Eunice in class six and Jane is in class one. I am also a farmer.

What do you do? Do you have your own shamba? No, we rent. I have one cow. I stay in my parents’ shamba. They gave me some place to build my house. The cow gives me milk that I can sell. I also have the shamba that I share with the other people in the table banking group.

Have you always been a farmer? I have always been a farmer. My wife is also a farmer.

What crops do you grow? Potatoes, maize and peas. 

Could you describe how your life is right now and how life is for people in the community? Life is always about struggling. If I talk about the youths in this place they don’t have their own shamba. They have to struggle to get their daily meals. Even for me that is the case. I have to go to a farm and I get 200 Ksh for one day work. If I get 200 I have to use it to get what I need the most that day and my savings I need to get from that 200 KSH.

What is your main challenge? The biggest issue is about finance. If you don’t have finances you don’t know what to do about your life.

How did you find about the table banking initiative? We were in one group with some other people, we had to open our minds. When we opened our minds some saw that idea. Some thought they would not benefit from that idea. But our mam here (mama shiru) helped us so much. She talked about it in detail and I had to join the group.

What made you think that it was a good initiative? You have to look where you get that money. Mam helped us and told us, if you have to save you have to limit the spending. We talked about savings. One day we put 20 Ksh and I looked at the idea and knew I would do it. 20 bob (KSH) is not that much.

Since you started almost a year ago, has it changed anything in your life? I am changed because when you look at that potato it is so beautiful because we have gotten together and we do a good work. It is changing my life, day by day.

What are your dreams and hopes for the future? In school I was so good. My parents didn’t have enough money for me to go to secondary school and university. For me I have to look to my children. I learned from my parents. They didn’t have money. I don’t have to say I have no money for my children. I have to keep studying. I want them to go to university. It costs a lot of money.

Anything else? I have a dream. For me I have to have money, being financed, for myself. My life will change. I want to get out of my parents shamba and buy my own shamba. One place for the house and one for growing crops. If I reach there I will also build some houses to rent out and get an income from that.

Would you like another cow? Yeah, that one cow I have bought from the 200 KSH. I have to have 200 KSH a day. I saved some and I used some so. The 200 KSH is not so small but not so much. I could save from my daily salary to buy a cow.

How much does a cow cost? If you buy a big cow it is about 60 000 KSH. I didn’t buy an adult. If it is a small cow it costs about ten thousand. I have had the cow for about three years.

What future do you see for the Amani women group and the table banking group? In the future I see some big ideas coming from them. The one who came with that idea of saving and table banking was seeing far.

Do you have any special idea that you would like to see in the future for the group? I was telling them that if we get some money we can also borrow from the bank. The bank here used to credit some groups. And we buy a shamba and if you look at the place here. The houses built here can have several floors. We have to build them. If you look where life is going the shambas are getting smaller. And if we build that house it can house more people than building houses with only one floor.

You’re the vice chair in the committee in the Table Banking group, what assignments do you have? I help the chair in the meetings. And I am stand in for the chair person.

Status

The collaboration with HR&S Action10 was initiated in 2011.

The ambition is to facilitate for villagers to have access to loans for their businesses by supporting the structure already established with more funds, so that they can increase the size of the loans.

Interview with Lucy Nyambura (Mama Shiru), Chair

Please tell me a little bit about yourself. My name is Lucy Nyambura. I am a chair lady of the Amani women group. I have my own business of farming. And when we are with the group I try to advise them what to do, because of tomorrow. If we stay without thinking about tomorrow, we will be in trouble. The days are going and we are getting old. When we don’t plan for tomorrow we will be in trouble. So I advise them. Last year, April, I was telling them, I did before but they didn’t know at that time what I was telling them, that was about two years ago. When it became last year in April I told them again; “What do you say about what I told you? Days are going. If we start what I told you, by two years we could be far”. I told them about this and that they could join me. I told them that if you want to save 5, 10, 20 shillings it is better than not saving at all. They agreed some of them. And that is the way we were going. We told the rest of the group about the vision. Let’s go together we said.

What moment or event inspired you to start Amani women? Amani women started in 1995. We were at one shamba were we were living. We sat down together to think; “What shall we do about our children?”. Then we can move together. Because in those days, even to buy a blanket was difficult. We decided to save, to do some table banking. To be able to buy a cup, utensils. We started with buying cups for everyone. When we finished with that we bought blankets. And then we moved on even buying beds. When we completed that we said that no children should miss school. We should now do table banking, every month the fifth. The group was known as date five. Date five you could not miss to bring the money we had agreed on. We had now a bank account. We gave the money to one person each month. We were voting on who to give the money. We were seven to begin with. We went that way, if you are not in a bad condition and you vote for March, when you are in need you will be given. We went on to grow that which makes insects side. We go on planting that together. We had now one shamba, only one shamba. We wanted to cultivate more but we had no money. We had to go and cultivate for others. We were given 70 shillings per day. I have done that work so much. We could go, six women, if we were paid we gave it to one person. The next day we gave another person. We went for three days to work for others and then three days to work for our own. Six days a week. We don’t work on Sundays. We went on like that until the plant failed because of the president. It was corruption. We could not do anything. We were relying on that. By that time we sat together to discuss what to do next. There came a plan of growing potatoes. Another seed. Again we organized another way. We joined a bank account. If we got 200 shillings we went to the bank and brought back the receipt. If we could manage to have a full shamba we could divide it. That was when we bought a shamba and divided it into smaller plots. Some were selling theirs, others cultivated. Our children, they started to move into secondary school and colleges. And we were struggling. 2007 when the clashes happened all our plans were destroyed. The group had started having dairy cows. We were supported with that. It was destroyed by that year. I had cows for milk. We were teachers to teach others. People came to our group to see how we were doing. But in the clashes everything was destroyed. By then our children had finished school. When we went back to our shambas after the clashes I started again with the women to organize. We had nothing, no goats, no cows, and no work on the shamba. Are we going to stay like that? With the certificate of Amani women the CDTF (Community development trust fund) were joining us. We were women groups discussing what to do. That was when Nancy assisted us to write a proposal. Then we joined with the youths. The youths could help us work on the shamba.

What is the vision of Amani women? The vison was that no one of us will have children missing out on school. Because we knew that if we educated our children they can see far away for us. Let’s educate our children because they will be our eyes where we cannot see and they will educate us. Our vision was that. When we stay without children, who will help us? Let us, everyone, educate our children. Because in the future they will see for us. And now we are seeing our fruits.

What do you think, what do you expect from Amani women this upcoming year? Now, what I can see, we have educated our children and they are young mothers and fathers and they know how to go on. And now it is not like our days. Now it is difficult. And when we cannot do work you will need something to help you even if things will be hard. I used to tell the women; “Who will give me a job? No one will. I can’t do it. Now you can work but in the future you will be old like me, what will you do?”. I want to educate them. If I have nothing to help me, what will I do? “Plan your future now”, I usually tell them, “if you are old you will eat your youth, if you don’t plan you will eat nothing”.

What activities will you do the rest of the year and in the beginning of next? Soon we need to sit down again and discuss what we want to do. And the group will decide, the people will decide together when we get there. The table banking group. We will sit down all together and decide what to do with the money. They will know. 

Action10 and Amani women have been partners for a while, why is Action10 a good partner you think? If you meet someone who will help you with something that is good for you. Even if you don’t know what to do they will help you. Anyone who can help you financially or with your mind-set is good.

Is Action10 different from other organizations you know of? Yes. Because I know Action10 don’t give us heavy instructions. CDTF were very difficult, it was difficult to do their project because they didn’t want this and they didn´t want that and we were not educated. They were difficult and we could not use the money the way we needed. You can say one day that you need one thing and then the next day you realize it is not good. But then you couldn’t change. If it is difficult we couldn’t change. But Action10 gave us the money and we can decide what can help us with that money. We are happy. You can be given something and it is a burden to you because you can’t do everything.

Is there a special moment with Amani women that you are proud of? I am proud of many things. Because if I were alone, if I have something of my own, I would not be able to. Being together makes me proud, because even if I don’t have the mood to do work or do activities there is something pushing me. I have a company to share things, what to do and where I can never reach there is someone who can reach and where someone does not know I can know. If you are sharing the obstacles they are not as big. If they are young or old everyone is together so that we can gain something with others. I am happy when we are with other people, we can go far. If I am alone, I can’t go that far. I don’t want to stay alone. I want to share with others. Minds, activities. And we have achieved something. We have knowledge we couldn’t have alone. We are further than other people who are not together, who go and work on their own shamba. We have more knowledge. We have so much knowledge because of being together. And we can be known. If we stick together people will know of us. You are here, we are known. There are so many blessings. I have achieved very much from when we started being together. And especially I am happy for Action10 because they are not being a burden. We can do anything now, we can do what the group want. But with the CDTF it was very tough, the instructions given were a real burden.

Interview with Jesse Njugua, assistant secretary

Please tell me a little bit about yourself. My name is Jesse Njuguna and I work as farmer. And I am a driver. I drive the motorcycle. When I am not driving I am in the shamba. I grow potatoes and maize.

Have you bought your own shamba? No, I rent my shamba. The shamba is one acre and a half. It costs almost 22 000 shillings.

Do you have a family? Yes I do have a family, one wife and two daughters. One is one year and the second born two years. The first one’s name is Susan and the other one is Beth. And my wife’s name is Lucy. She is also in the table banking group.

Can you describe your life today? Life is not easy, I am struggling. Today makes our future. I am struggling to make my two daughters that they will go to school. I am struggling to afford that. And I am thinking how my life with farming will be better. To make it better is this. Now is the house I am living in for rent. I don’t have my permanent place. Even the shamba is for rent. I am just like a guest in my country. I want to own my house and own my shamba, and if god bless, I would like to have a proper business in the city. I am farming and I am driving, working with both to get better. When I am not on the road I work on the shamba.

You are in the table banking group, so you also have the shamba together with the group? Yes. We have one with the group. When members visit the shamba we are together and work on the shamba. Every member know what to do.

Why do you like the table banking initiative? It is interesting because you know, I as a person, there are things that I can’t do alone. An example is this, in Kenya now, if you would want to borrow money you must have a group. That is why we sit and talk together. It is better for us to contribute some money and do table banking. It is better because a shamba in Kenya costs half a million. I can’t buy it alone. By the time we put money in the bank, later we can buy a shamba and pay with interest. When you are together we can do much. When you are alone you can’t.

How did you find out about the initiative? We have our chair lady, she told us. She said she had a dream, we were working with her. We were stressed in the shamba. If she needed some people for her shamba she could call me and tell me to look for some people to work on her shamba. And then I pay them and go home. When we were in shamba daily she told me, for now, to buy a plot is difficult, because you are alone. But if we can do something together, save 10, 15 or 20 we can take the money to the bank. One can borrow some money and buy a plot. She told me that. For now things are difficult, we should join together. I saw it was better so I joined her and we looked for more members. And when we looked for more members we wanted serious members. As you can see, many are youths. And followed the advice and we are sure that we will see the fruit of the advice.

Has the table banking initiative in any way changed your life? Yes, it has. It has changed my life. Before when I got my money I would spend it. I had no vision. When I got the 200 shillings I spent it and was left with no money. But when the idea came I saw it was better and I saw that I was using money. But from that idea I listened to them and I take something from them and put it in my mind. So from that day if I got 200 I try the best, even if I spend 150, I make sure I have my own 50 shilling saved for me. Before we started this I had no motorbike. Now I have it. I have been able to buy it because I have saved money. Before I had just half an acre. No I have one and a half acre shamba. Before it was difficult with my family. But now I am trying. My first born girl was at school, and was sent home to get money but now it’s not that way. Now I can pay school fees.

You also save money yourself, and with that money you have been able to improve things in your life?

By the time they gave us the idea to save I started saving for myself. Apart from the saved 20 shillings for the group I saved myself 50 shillings. I added my own saving. That is per month 1500 shillings. The school fee for my girl is 2300 shillings. It is no longer difficult for me to pay school fees. These 20 shillings is not difficult for me to pay. If I get 200 per day, I try the best to save for me and the group. If you see when we are paying I am the first one to pay, because I have money. It came to me and I feel it is good. I can see it changed it my life. And I hope it will change the life of other members.

How old are you? I am 32 years old. You know people in this area we live.  People are not well learned. We get ideas from others. If we like to perform well, don’t look at the failures, look at the ones who perform well. In my life I would like to stay with people who has performed well. Those who has failed, I don’t hate them, still I love them, but in ideas I don’t share with them. I want to share with those whom have done well. That’s what I came to decide. When we started I didn’t notice. When you are there and you stay with other people with no ideas you get nowhere. But if you live with people who has ideas you will go far. If not you will do farming, but not as a business, just to live. Now I am farming for food and for business. I can sell a bag of potatoes to others so I can get cash.

If we think of the table banking group, you have saved for a year. Do you have ideas what to do next with the group?  When we are sitting down and sharing ideas, I said, we can get one more acre of a shamba. That would be better. For now to lend shamba is much money. It costs 10 000. But if it is ours those 10 000 will remain with the members. So if we can start farming professionally. Even if we continue farming we can buy cows. It can bring much money. We can make a better greenhouse. We can grow potatoes in the greenhouse. We can grow other things in the greenhouse. Even if it is farming we will start professionally. Better than now. Now we get 10 000, we improve it to 100 000. If we have capital we can do more. That is why we saved for the group. The way we started it we wanted to get better.

What are you most proud of with the group? I am proud because with the members we were not friends. Now we are friends. Now we can sit down together and share ideas and what we think about the group. Everyone was thinking about themselves. But for now when we sit down we share and we are together, we share ideas. I am proud to be a member of Amani women group.

Interview with Eliud NBogo, vice chair

Tell me a little bit about yourself. I am Eliud NBogo, I am 32 years. I have one wife. I have two kids. Eunice and Jane, two girls. Eunice is ten and Jane is five. Eunice and Jane are both in school, Eunice in class six and Jane is in class one. I am also a farmer.

What do you do? Do you have your own shamba? No, we rent. I have one cow. I stay in my parents’ shamba. They gave me some place to build my house. The cow gives me milk that I can sell. I also have the shamba that I share with the other people in the table banking group.

Have you always been a farmer? I have always been a farmer. My wife is also a farmer.

What crops do you grow? Potatoes, maize and peas. 

Could you describe how your life is right now and how life is for people in the community? Life is always about struggling. If I talk about the youths in this place they don’t have their own shamba. They have to struggle to get their daily meals. Even for me that is the case. I have to go to a farm and I get 200 Ksh for one day work. If I get 200 I have to use it to get what I need the most that day and my savings I need to get from that 200 KSH.

What is your main challenge? The biggest issue is about finance. If you don’t have finances you don’t know what to do about your life.

How did you find about the table banking initiative? We were in one group with some other people, we had to open our minds. When we opened our minds some saw that idea. Some thought they would not benefit from that idea. But our mam here (mama shiru) helped us so much. She talked about it in detail and I had to join the group.

What made you think that it was a good initiative? You have to look where you get that money. Mam helped us and told us, if you have to save you have to limit the spending. We talked about savings. One day we put 20 Ksh and I looked at the idea and knew I would do it. 20 bob (KSH) is not that much.

Since you started almost a year ago, has it changed anything in your life? I am changed because when you look at that potato it is so beautiful because we have gotten together and we do a good work. It is changing my life, day by day.

What are your dreams and hopes for the future? In school I was so good. My parents didn’t have enough money for me to go to secondary school and university. For me I have to look to my children. I learned from my parents. They didn’t have money. I don’t have to say I have no money for my children. I have to keep studying. I want them to go to university. It costs a lot of money.

Anything else? I have a dream. For me I have to have money, being financed, for myself. My life will change. I want to get out of my parents shamba and buy my own shamba. One place for the house and one for growing crops. If I reach there I will also build some houses to rent out and get an income from that.

Would you like another cow? Yeah, that one cow I have bought from the 200 KSH. I have to have 200 KSH a day. I saved some and I used some so. The 200 KSH is not so small but not so much. I could save from my daily salary to buy a cow.

How much does a cow cost? If you buy a big cow it is about 60 000 KSH. I didn’t buy an adult. If it is a small cow it costs about ten thousand. I have had the cow for about three years.

What future do you see for the Amani women group and the table banking group? In the future I see some big ideas coming from them. The one who came with that idea of saving and table banking was seeing far.

Do you have any special idea that you would like to see in the future for the group? I was telling them that if we get some money we can also borrow from the bank. The bank here used to credit some groups. And we buy a shamba and if you look at the place here. The houses built here can have several floors. We have to build them. If you look where life is going the shambas are getting smaller. And if we build that house it can house more people than building houses with only one floor.

You’re the vice chair in the committee in the Table Banking group, what assignments do you have? I help the chair in the meetings. And I am stand in for the chair person.

SURVEY MANUAL 2020

1. Number of members currently in the project ( initial was 15).

2. Current amount in the group bank account.

3. Income of participants from various income generating activities in case they have started any (This we can can compare against their initial income).

4. Level of dependency- can they support their families (provide food, pay their children’s school fees) ?

5. Any success stories from members.

SURVEY Report , Nov 2020

AMANI WOMEN GROUP STATUS REPORT

By Millicent SIFUNA

Amani women group (AWG) is a registered community-based organization whose main aim is to empower individuals economically. The group seeks to provide financial resources to individuals to engage in livelihood projects through table banking. Through this, AWG hopes to contribute towards poverty eradication, increased incomes, employment creation and building of wealth among low income people in Molo. It applies group-based resource mobilization concept in which a group of people (members) gather to save and borrow.  Every time they gather, members place their savings on the table, 500ksh monthly. Members can then borrow immediately after they have contributed for an agreed length of time (4 months) from the money collected to boost their income generating livelihoods. The interest paid (which is 10%) and the savings progressively increase their money. Eventually, this collectively forms the groups revolving fund, giving the group an increasing pool of money to access.

Why “Amani”?

“Amani” is a Swahili word meaning peace. This is the foundation of Amani women group. Asking the chairperson of Amani women group why they chose that name, she laughs heartly and answers, “this group has special people who have come from far. When we formed this group, all we wanted was peace and focus on doing what is good for all of us. Striving towards common goals is what unite us; to improve our life in every aspect as we relate peacefully with each other.” The name “Amani women group” can quickly make you think that it is a group majorly revolving around women. This is not the case; the group has men also!

Developments

The group started with a total of 15 members. One member dropped out because he moved to another town. Currently, the group has 14 active members. The highest amount one can borrow from the group is 1,600 euros. The lowest amount one can borrow from the group kitty is 160 euros. The money is paid back with a 10% interest. The amount one can borrow is determined by the amount one has contributed by the time the person wants to borrow the money. The group has been able to buy a piece of land (1/4 of an acre). The land is usually leased out to members and non-members at 24 euros for a year.  Members contribute as little as 20Ksh daily. This ensures that at the end of the month everyone would have contributed 500Ksh. The group leader was happy to report that the group has really benefitted them. “Some people had no houses of their own, they have been able to build through this project. Others have been able to buy land, pay school fees, and buy some items in the house.” She said lost in thoughts. “People borrow and pay back money in time, except for a few cases. The group has been inactive since the start of the corona virus. We however met recently and members are positive. We are to start with energy again. Those with debts have agreed to pay”,  she added.

Any challenges?

The group is composed of people who mainly practice agriculture (farming and keeping of livestock). But there has been a low performance in agriculture in various parts of the country mainly contributed by climate change. Sometimes the group could plant and fail to harvest due to either lack of rainfall, excess rainfall or excess heat. This led to huge losses because they invest a lot of money and time. Fertilizer is bought, seeds, labour, controlling pests only to end up with nothing. However, the group leader insisted that they are strong and this could not break them. They have never given up because there are always brighter days.

Training and capacity building programmes?

The group does not benefit from any training or capacity building programmes.

Why are you doing all this?

“Our main goal is to improve our livelihoods. We would love to own a bigger piece of land, build houses for renting out. You know, we are not so young…we would like to age gracefully. What will we do if we are not able to farm anymore because of advanced age? We will be sipping our tea peacefully (from the word “Amani”) as we look back at how far we have come and the success. We will train others also, and tell them how we made it.”

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