This blogpost has been written by Mary Kiguru who has co-ordinated the project from the outset. Sujali is a micro-finance project aimed at women entrepreneurs but which has allowed several men to join the group. All are located in the Ruai area of Nairobi. Sujali began with a small investment of £500 (KES66000). Further investments have allowed Sujali to grow and learn and it is a tribute to Mary and the women that it continues to flourish after 10 years.
2020 – 2021 was our greatest test … whether the members would survive through the pandemic and bounce back after the pandemic. Life gives us no choice as we have to continue supporting and feeding our families.
The question for me in 2022 and 2023 is how to best balance my work and provide the needed support for Sujali.
2022 has been the most trying year not only for Sujali but the country as a whole. While Covid-19 was not so much of an obstacle, bouncing back became difficult as the economic impact of Covid-19 started being felt along with the effects of the lead-up to the elections. The cost of living went up and many families are barely surviving. Most businesses are at their lowest. But Sujali survives through it all.
Alice, the Chicken Farmer who was one of the original members, expanded and moved to a new location. She now runs not only a chicken farm, she also has a pig farm and a shop for animal feeds. She is living on a one-acre piece of land. Her husband has joined in the business. She borrowed some KES500,000 (£4,000) to start off the new initiative which she paid off within 24 months. She has requested a further KES100,000 (£800). It is important to underline the significance of this. Women traditionally have not been able to get loans and interest rates are usually very high for everybody. £4,000 is an eye-watering amount in the context of her community.
Susan’s shop continues to grow, albeit slowly. She was able to top up in 2022 with KES50,000 and has invested in Money Fund. Due to the hard times, she now manages the shop on her own rather than employ someone.
The shop still continues to grow in stock. As of June 2022, the stock was worth KES750,000. She is able to pay KES5,000 monthly on her loan.
Elizabeth’s Salon continues to grow and includes a beauty shop. She borrowed KES150,000 at the beginning of 2022 and is able to make a monthly payment of KES8,000. I am proud to say that Elizabeth and her husband have been to buy a piece of land and build their home. This is real growth.
Kitonga’s hardware shop continues to grow in stock. It now has stock worth KES1.5M. He has been paying off his loan, albeit slowly.
Nzuve’s hotel continues to serve the community. He has, however, not been able to pay up his loan. He was the latest entrant into the program. I have been following up on him and he will be able to balance out his savings and the loan.
Janet is still running her clinic. She has her clientele even with the public dispensary being right across the street.
Grace, even after having tragedy after tragedy after the pandemic, continues to be persistent. She now runs a matatu and motorbike business. A matatu (see picture) is a public transport van.