By Joy Gaki, one of the Mary Kiguru’s KeMU students who has been working with the Sujali women on their business skills. The photos show a picture of Elizabeth’s new hairdressing seat and Jacinta’s café. (July 2016)
Three years since it was set up, the Sujali Self Help group is getting stronger each day. I visited only five women because I did not have much time. The women spent a lot of time with me explaining and showing me how far they have gone. I met up with Alice, Linet, Elizabeth, Wanjiru who works in Susan’s (Mrs. Kiguru’s) shop and Jacinta.
Linet was not in her usual bakery simply because she has opened a kiosk similar to Jacinta’s in Ruai town where she sells food to the locals. By the time I arrived at her kiosk, she was very busy serving customers and all the seats were filled! She looked more confident and bolder than the last time I saw her. It seemed to me that she had applied some of the skills we had trained her on. Linet manages both her bakery and kiosk and seems to be doing just fine.
Elizabeth still works at her hairdressing salon. She has a new seat and the place looks more professional than the last time I saw it. She mentioned to me that the business is growing despite having a competitor right next to her. Her challenge is getting an assistant because the previous one left after two days.
Wanjiru was new to me and she took me through her activities of the day. She replaced Wacuka the girl we had trained at the shop. Wanjiru was also busy with clients buying clothes, others just window shopping. Because of the inflow of clients, I briefly took her through some of what I shall train her on because it was evident that all the women need a second visit probably with Tichi (another of the five students) and Mary. She clearly understands the financial management aspects which is crucial to business growth.
Jacinta is still picking up slowly in her kiosk. She has discontinued with the grocery shop for now as produce was being stolen. She is erecting a new structure and it should be complete hopefully before the end of the year. They look forward to shifting the kiosk to the new structure and leaving the old one to be a new grocery store. Jacinta has also connected her kiosk to power which allows her to work longer hours. She has, however, the challenge of repaying back her loan and is still working on her bookkeeping skills. Those of you who have been following the fortunes of Daisy, the cow and Buttercup, her calf will be saddened to learn that Buttercup died. However, the good news is that Daisy has produced a new calf. They have named it Bigtime!
Alice, as always, was very busy and her chicken rearing business has grown tremendously! When I arrived, I found her getting ready to go to market and sell her eggs. She now has her two floor building with lots of chickens. She is doing very well and her clientele has expanded. Her only concern was the goats she currently has because they are not producing as much milk and she needs a better breed.
In conclusion, it is encouraging to see how far the women have moved on since I last saw them. I had to take time out to have a baby and finish my degree! It was to be expected that they still need more visits and more training. I’ll report back again when I visit the rest of the group and I know that Mike will be out to see us in November.